It was wonderful visiting them, because it was thrilling for me to see my "little" cousin (J is about 5 years younger than me) all grown up and a mommy. My aunt passed away about 7 years ago, and I think that really was hard for her daughter. I'm so glad to see J so blissfully happy now!
We had a conversation about the kids, and it got me thinking. Today, Dec. 31, would be a good time to take a "snapshot" of my three kiddos:
Sam: what a wild man. I swear he'd lose his head if it weren't attached. Remember PigPen from the Peanuts? Well, it's not that Sam has a dirt cloud following him - it's more like a paper trail. He has scraps of paper everywhere. His hair, which is still growing, gets "unbrushed" almost instantly. His backpack is usually stuffed to the brim and open wide (so that things can fall out at an alarming rate). He loses everything. His seat in the minivan is surrounded by junk - toys, papers, wrappers, crumbs. He flits from one distraction to another. At this moment, he is dressed in too-small sweatpants, a kimono from Japan that fit him well when he was 4 (he's 8 now), and a yellow costume belt, and he and his brother are swordfighting (again). He draws pictures of weapons and wars all the time - beautifully, and almost exclusively in pencil. He gets freaked out in crowds, and yesterday, when the guards announced that the museum would be closing in 10 minutes, he started to panic, and would not do anything except hurry us out. His coping skills are coming along, but are still rather minimal. He loves to learn, and is so excited to be able to "read" Torah (in reality, he's just memorizing from the mp3 his teacher made). He had a great time at the Webkinz party he went to the other day with 3 of his girlfriends, and just as much fun playing video games with one of the boys from school.
Micah is my serious little guy As neat as his brother is messy, he is the Felix Unger to Sam's Oscar Madison. When Sam spent the week at my parents' house last summer, Micah and I cleaned their bedroom. Micah was brutal, throwing things away that even I would have saved! Micah has taught himself how to play chess, via the computer, and now he's so good that I can't even LET him win. He is also starting to "learn" piano, just a few songs. I really need to find him a teacher already. He is so sweet in school, and reportedly he is a friend to everyone. On the playground, there is usually a crowd around Micah, either boys or girls. Age doesn't matter; one of his best friends from school is in 4th grade. He's only in Kindergarten, but already he's starting to read. He is very serious about his allergies, without being freaked out by them. He doesn't get upset when others eat something he can't; he is cautious and asks before taking something new. He even checks with me about soap (after an experience with nut-based soap). He switches into pretend mode very easily, turning into "Smokey the Dog" or The Captain (he's swordfighting now too). He has learned to control his strong little temper much better than when he was in preschool. He often seems older than 6, although I love it when I see the little boy in him.
Sofia is a raging toddler. Right now she is in eating mode and exploring mode. Yesterday, she wanted to run all over the museums, touching everything and saying "hi" to everyone (including some statues). She and I spent some time in the courtyard, where she kept running back and forth shouting "whee!". At my cousin's house, faced with bowls of grapes, crackers, and popcorn, she had a look of glee and never an empty hand.At the restaurant, she handed me some money, which she had taken out of my wallet! She wants to do everything her older brothers do. In CT, she also copies my nieces, down to the hand motions and expressions. I do not worry about anyone ever ignoring Sofia; she pushes her way into every crowd.
I am so proud of all three of my children, and I marvel at how different they are. I am thankful for the opportunity to parent them, and to learn from them. Last year, when I did the weaning ceremony for Sofia, I found this lovely poem (also a song, by Sweet Honey In The Rock):
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let our bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.
A Happy and Sweet New Year to you all!