Monday, September 18, 2017

To my first on his thirteenth

Dear John,

You are a teenager now, and nobody told me this would happen. They said, "Time flies" or "You'll blink and he'll be grown" or "Savor it ... pretty soon he'll be gone and you'll wonder what happened!" And I rolled my eyes and thought, "Yeah right. They don't have to live with it."
The truth is that in raising children, the moments are long but the years are short. And now thirteen of them have disappeared. Now you only have to endure five more years of torture from us before you flap away.

When you were smaller, I used these letters to record all of your changes and growth. These days, there is certainly growth, but it is harder to document because it is subtler, more nuanced ...  much more difficult to describe. For one thing, there's your hair, which has always been amazing, but now you seem to have opinions about it much much more than ever before. You have recently gone from long, to medium, to short in a matter of a month. Now it is short and apparently needs a certain product called "Bedhead Manipulator" that comes in a 2-ounce tub for $20. You're 13, and we spend $10/ounce on your hair products. That's love, buddy.

You have a couple of jobs (mowing lawns) which earn you a little money, and generally you do not complain too much about this work. But we are still trying to tame the drama surrounding the chore of emptying the dishwasher.

 And the drama around photos.

 And the drama around eletronics.

 And the drama around haircuts.

 And the drama around ear drops/ear doctors.

Where did you get all this dramatic flair (and hair)? 😉

Lately, you have wanted me to scratch your back before bed. We no longer read stories anymore because you have long been reading on your own, but I miss that. It is, however, making me treasure that time with your brother, so I guess I'm learning something from being your mom. I have been saying yes to this back-scratching request because I know that the time when you will want me around is fleeting, so I'm trying to savor it. 

 John -- your dad and I are SO proud of you. As I wrote in your birthday card ... we love you AND we like you! Here is a poem that in many ways encapsulates what I want to say to/about you ... just ignore the bits about portobellos, activism, and being a pescetarian and look for the similarities, including a love of raspberries, a history of hair changes, and my efforts to keep you alive.

Happy 13th birthday John-John! Don't flap away too quickly.

All my love,

Hours Days Years Unmoor Their Orbits

Rachel Zucker
tonight I’m cleaning baby portobellos
for you, my young activist

wiping the dirty tops with a damp cloth
as carefully as I used to rinse raspberries

for you to adorn your fingertips
before eating each blood-red prize

these days you rarely look me in the eye
& your long shagged hair hides your smile

I don’t expect you to remember or
understand the many ways I’ve kept you

alive or the life my love for you
has made me live

About This Poem

“I wrote this poem for and about my oldest son when he was about nine years old and had decided to become a pescetarian after reading a book about the meatpacking industry. My son is now about to turn eighteen and will leave for college this summer. We are still dancing the beautiful, painful dance of mother-child separation and attachment, different steps, different haircuts, same love.”
—Rachel Zucker

Friday, June 02, 2017

To my 2nd on his seventh and a half

Dear Sam,

Happy 7.5 buddy! I failed to get a letter out to you on your actual 7th birthday, so this will have to suffice. I want these letters to be a Yearly You Review. So, here we go.

Well, first of all, you’re the best 7.5 year old ever. Especially if we’re measuring by wit, charm, snuggliness, size of inappropriate vocabulary, etc. You have had such an awesome year in first grade -- so much better than kindergarten. For a long time I was worried about not hearing from the teacher because we never got update emails. I was afraid to contact her and ask how it was going. I wanted to believe no news was good news … and it was! It’s like you just figured it out. It’s no fun to act out and get in trouble in school, and you came to that conclusion on your own, and we are SO proud of you for that. Some adults are still figuring out what types of behaviors to avoid in order to stay out of trouble, so you’re well on your way, love.

One of the things that your dad and I love best about you, Sam, is that you get really into the things that you do. For example, you love baseball so much. You love every position you play, and it is so much fun to watch you.  You don’t love school, but you’re proud of your reading ability, art work, friends, games learned at PE, new books from the media center, etc. And at home, your Lego creations are out of this world. You’ll make something and then say, “Look mom! This looks like it came from a box … with directions!”

Seven-year-old you is very practical. This week that I’m writing to you is your last week of first grade. On the first day of the last week, I asked if y’all were doing any work or if you were just playing this week, and you replied, “We have a crap ton of word searches. Like, three a day.” The practicality comes out in your attitude about attending baseball practice, school, having necessary medical procedures (e.g., blood draws -- you just stick out your arm), etc. And when dad tells one of his crazy stories, you can tell the difference between the real and the imaginary. You aren’t gullible. You can tease and be teased, and I love that about you.

You and I have done a lot of artsy events this year, and I have cherished that time with you --The Nutcracker, two plays, and all of our movie nights. We have also made more than a few visits to Dairy Queen and Orange Leaf.

You and your dad have a very special bond too, and we both get such a kick out of the fact that you say you want to live with us forever. One night you had a nightmare, and you came downstairs and crawled in between me and dad. I asked if you wanted me to go back upstairs with you (because you do love your bed!), and you said, "Well, thanks mom, but since I'm already here, I think I'll just make a spot."

You have definitely made a spot on our hearts Sweet Sam. We could not be prouder of you or more in love with your snuggliness, fiestiness, and life commentary. You can live with us for as long as you want, love -- you will always be our baby.

With all my love,