It's been our week to drive the carpool to Jude's Junior Lifeguards. This entails loading up the car with kids in their little lifeguard uniforms, driving an hour to the beach, then waiting around for 3 hours before driving them back to the drop off point, which takes between an hour to an hour and a half because of traffic. So you can understand how very much I appreciate this carpool! Out of the 5 weeks of the Junior Lifeguard program, this is the first time I've been the driver. I'd driven out to Will Rogers State Beach a couple of times to check out what the kid was doing, but I had yet to be privy to the whole carpool experience. Which I must admit I was intrigued by.
You see, Jude has been coming home every day totally pumped up and full of silliness, because as much as he's loved the running and swimming and surfing, he's loved the carpooling every bit as much. Because he's been riding every day with two 13-year old boys, Lucas and Cullen, who are full of all sorts of what Jude deems "inappropriate stuff".
This had been worrying me a bit. I didn't know these boys at all, they don't go to his school. I'd met their parents, who seem lovely, and one of the boys, Cullen, has a brother who is in Jude's Cub Scout pack. But I really had no idea just how inappropriate "inappropriate" meant. And Jude, as much interest as he seems to have in "inappropriate" things, is really terribly sheltered. I mean, he still spells out "bad" words, like "S-U-C-K-S". It's sweet. And every time anybody talks about girls in a provocative way, he giggles like crazy.
But I figured these boys were good for him. He doesn't have any older siblings or cousins, in fact, he's around adults ALL the time, but never teenagers. So I have been looking forward to finding out just what these boys, who he spends a minimum of 2 hours a day in a backseat with, were really like.
Well guess what? They're GREAT! Just the nicest boys. And what's more, they seem to really like Jude. Even though he is a full 3 years younger than them, they seem to genuinely enjoy his company. They seem to think he's cool and really funny. They are respectful of his age and naivety, but they don't look down on him or tease him or treat him like a little kid. He's one of the dudes. They have started calling themselves the Three Musketeers. Cullen, who has the same shaggy blond hair that Jude has, even tried to convince him to start telling everybody that they were brothers, since they look so much alike. They keep complimenting him, telling how fast he is and what a good swimmer he is. Lucas is completely impressed with the kid's knowledge of old rock and roll lyrics. And these are cool guys too. They're both cute as can be and have great senses of humor. Lucas plays guitar in a band, and they're both always texting girls.
It's silly how happy this makes me. I guess I was worried that he would be the dinky little kid, the one that the bigger boys were forced to put up with for this whole carpool thing. But that just couldn't be farther from the truth. The three of them now have endless inside jokes. They tickle and wrestle and noogie each other for the entire car trip. Jude's in big boy heaven.
And it's made me relax a little, and realize something new about my son. Though I'm now pretty outgoing, and can generally get along fine with new people and new situations, when I was Jude's age I was NOT. I was shy, and deeply insecure. I can't imagine that I would have done as well with two older girls. I would have been afraid to speak for fear of humiliating myself. But Jude completely holds his own. And even though I always think if Jude as being so much like me, I have realized that in this instance, he is not. However, he is just like...Jimmy. Who'd a thunk it? Jimmy was that little boy who always hung out with the older kids. I've heard this over and over from his friends and relatives. Jimmy always hung out with the older boys in the neighborhood, and his older cousins because they thought he was cool.
I'm thinking that this entire Junior Lifeguard experience is going to be very empowering for Jude, and a great growing up period. Not only is he now able to swim 100 yards into heavy surf, haul a drowning person out of the water and give them mouth-to-mouth, but he has learned how to hold his own with a group of bigger guys and talk about girls and what to do if some guy gets "handsy" with your girlfriend and how during puberty your balls drop and neat stuff like that. Win/win!