April 27, 2016

Boy's Gone Wild

In the last few months, I've discovered that having a five year old is a true revelation. I am certain that all mothers feel vitally bonded with each of their children, and my connections are not exceptional... but the relationship I have with this boy, my first baby, with whom I've shared each and every day of the last five years, feels remarkable. Seeing so many of the quirks, that were trademarked in his infancy and toddlerhood, feed into the personality of this wholly formed and articulate human being, is wildly surreal.

It seems as though I know everything about him, all his sensitivities... how he'll be bold and confident, but then suddenly shrink when confronted with an unfamiliar person or challenge, that when faced with a decision, he will always make the opposite choice first and then self impose a crisis before settling on his second pick, that asking him something head on is the fastest way to make him shut down. I know that he is surprisingly adventurous in exploring the world, climbing high and straying far, but that he can be trusted, always. He never gets himself stuck out on a limb and forever amazes me with how clearly and unconsciously he understands the edges and dangers around him. He's exceptionally tuned into his environment, yet often exceptionally tuned out to the people within it.

In the last five years, I've started to form my own narrative of the person he is, and as I am sure is true of many parents with kids that could be described as 'shy' or 'sensitive', I have also imagined how we will help him navigate the challenges that may emerge as he makes his way through the impending school years...

... So now here is the twist; yes he is shy and sensitive and a loner in many ways, and yes he is a very small kid, scraping the bottom of the height and weight charts since birth... but he is also a wild, silly, social, and increasingly aggressive boy. I have spent so much time imagining how I will defend him against the 'mean kids' of the world, that it's been more than a little disarming this year to get the teacher updates wherein he has pushed an unsuspecting kid, or to hear him make fun of the boys in his class who like princesses and 'girl stuff', or to listen in on the general tone of destruction and violence that prevails over all his imaginative play. I had a few weeks of crisis this past winter where I thought, 'what happened to that sensitive geek I have been raising, and who is this alpha male that's replaced him?!'... I'm sort of kidding. But there's a giant helping of truth in there too. 

Lately he seems to have mellowed out some, and I am seeing what I hope to be a healthier balance of wild and sensitive. Still, five has been a big reality check for me. As much as I think I know my child, and with everything that has been ingrained in him since birth and still persists as part of his character, he is obviously finding himself, testing new ideas, growing, and changing constantly... and sometimes radically. I'm bracing myself for decades of surprises from my predictable, routine-loving boy. 

*it's been a tough month, but i am still doing this! my sweet and faithful blog readers... this blog is happening this year (but just let me finish out the semester ;)

April 1, 2016

Easter at Home

Easter is that holiday, where every year I have visions of boiling red cabbage to dye eggs and personally felting special toys for each of the kids... then the inevitable smash cut to wandering the aisles of Target the night before, trying to piece together meaningful trinkets, and in an outright verbal battle for the final two wooden crates (they were entirely out of baskets- how?!).

This was our first Easter at home in many years, and I was really worried it would just be boring for everyone. I loooove (there can not be enough 'o's there) a quiet Christmas, but spring and egg hunts just seem to require family and friends. Spoiler alert, maybe we now have a big enough family of our own to carry that weight of fun. We missed hanging with our loved one's, but we truly had a great celebration all on our very own... thanks to Twister, fondue, and of course, Target.

We did actually use natural dye on our eggs, because we love eggs and buy them with care, and after reading a few articles on the typical egg dye not being good to consume, I got myself all freaked out. Still, there was no way I had time to peel a dozen onion skins or boil berries (all this might sound nuts to anyone not versed in Pinterest and Instagram, but I promise that everyone under the sun is all about that natural dye!). We cheated and bought our's from Natural Earth Paint, and having tried several other brands, this one is definitely my favorite. The colors are pretty. A bit muted on brown eggs, but the kids were pleased, and I felt good feeding them every last egg. 

The biggest key to our holiday's success, and Smith proclaiming it, "the best Easter ever!", was the bunny leaving a treasure (aka egg) map. James was initially skeptical in the late hours of Easter Eve, when I put on the pressure to hide real eggs inside, hide candy stuffed plastic eggs outside... and oh yeah, draw a treasure map indicating each egg. After some whining about my making 'too big a deal out of everything', he pulled out that pen and totally got into it. I knew he would! In the end, I think we could have skipped noting the actual location of the eggs, because the kids just ran around searching randomly for them... but oh my, they were impressed by that map.

Smith is already an 'eagle eye' by nature, and spotted a bunch of eggs out his window before we even let him leave his room, in the early hours of morning. I had to stand on his bed and crane to even see where he was talking about. The kid is intense. Roo is a little less 'gifted' in egg sighting skills, but made up for it with candy enthusiasm. Together they were quite the pair, racing around our tiny yard to uncover every egg. The final treasure was hidden in their tee pee tent in the basement, a big crate full of board games and craft activities. I have to take the credit for that idea, and it really was perfect. We spent the rest of the day playing twister and beading necklaces... trust me, it was more fun than it sounds.

We ended the night with fondue, which is becoming a favorite celebration meal for our little family. It's so easy and there's a bite of something to suit everyone; winter veggies, spring veggies... every season tastes good dipped in cheese!

The kids actually cried on Easter night, wishing that we could do the whole thing again the next day. Five and two years old really seems to be the sweet spot for maximum magic and appreciation for these holidays. I'm trying to invent a few more, just to relish the moments. It's really good right now, and I'm soaking it all up and putting these memories in the reserves to get me through those impending preteen years. Maybe they will just stay sweet like this forever, but sleep more? Here's hoping.