Saturday, August 18, 2018


And just like that, Julian turns nine freakin' years old.  

I believe there comes a time in our year where we suddenly become the age that's next. You know what I mean?  Become, instead of simply turned it, turned nine, for instance.  And it doesn't necessarily happen on the day of our birth.   For example, I was watching Julian take a bath a couple of weeks ago. He was taking showers for a while and reverted back to the bath. He's fully capable of doing the job himself but he's always trying to rope me into staying and talking which I can understand because I do the exact same thing to Sean. (we get bored.)  So I decided to stay, and chatting animatedly, he was telling me some grand story about ______________ (I was listening).  And I saw his long reed-like body and listened to his subtly maturing voice and laughed at the words he chose to use, and all of a sudden it hit me:  Oh. You're nine now. This is nine.  Just like that. And it happened in the bathtub. 

I'm going to put up a bunch of pictures of the boy, and I do mean a bunch. But before I do,
I was hiking one day, listening to a podcast of an interview with the writer John Banville. I haven't read anything he's written but I looove listening to writers talk about writing. Here's his wiki page if you're interested in learning more. Also here's the link to the interview. But he's this sort of codgy old Irish guy who perhaps said it best:

"Children just pretend to be children to save the embarrassment of adults.  We know everything by the time we're nine...The rest is just refinement, the rest is detail.  But we know it all by then, but we pretend we don't, so that our parents won't be embarrassed." 

This summer has been the summer of the legos.  And as you can imagine, it's been glorious.  First was lego camp, then we went to Legoland in CA which was pret-ty great, and just so many hours spent building.  Julian has a lot of intellectual energy, I'd say, and legos channel that nicely.  Honestly, is there a better toy? He's downstairs right now, in fact, building as I type.  For my birthday I got a lego set of my own of a modern house that came with a mom and a boy. We named her Betty and the son is Junior. Julian will spend hours coming up with "lego adventures" for us to have where Junior gets kidnapped or trapped or placed in mortal peril of some kind every time and we have to go save him with the help of well-intentioned neighbor, Mr. Bones and his shoddy vehicular constructs that keep falling apart.  I don't know why I, I mean Betty keeps letting Junior come with us them on these excursions. Anyway, they are hilarious and the details he concocts are a marvel. We always end up giggling about something or other.


Jabba's barge?
No wait, maybe this is Jabba's barge.

So much time spent examining.
One morning I heard a bellow and then, "Whew, I almost fell into my own Lego bin."   Now that's a fun visual.

Also, from the other room while he was lego'ing, "Mommy?"  (Writing that out looks SO weird. Like, nobody calls me "Mommy," are you insane? But he does, he does call me that. And I love it. But still i'm like, who?)


"Did you know that love can survive a coma?"

"Oh? Tell me about it."

"Well, I don't know anyone but I read it in Readers Digest and I know that it can happen."

"I believe it." 

Soo funny.  Often we will all of us sit at dinner and be reading something. And that is how our family time is spent.

"Julian, help Dad push the TV cart."
T'was also the summer of the boy-tank.

To escape the disgusto-smoke air, we drove 100 miles straight up and broke out through the haze at Mirror Lake in the Uintas. Here is Sean teaching Julian a handy trick to keep away the mountain lions, a scene I happily came upon after peeing in the woods, in case you wanted to know.

Campfire of the season. Julian and I both brought books and this is how we spent the mealtime while Sean cooked the dogs, of course. But not pictured are the made-up games Julian had for us to play afterward which included trying to throw tiny rocks onto a slightly bigger rock in the river and hit the target. The game was if we fail, we pay him $1. Ha ha, good try.   Also there was a sort of "find the secret stick whilst playing tag" game.   He hid a stick that Sean and I had to race to find while tagging each other.  And a version of kick-the-can with an old rusty can he found. I tell you, ignored only child = the best games ever.  He is the greatest.

I love these pictures so much.
Do you have moments when you discover what's "cool" according to what your kid is learning at school? But it takes a minute because it's this totally arbitrary nonsense, something you'd never think was cool but somehow is? That's what this pose was.

Another cool pose, but more easily identifiable, for obvious reasons.

Food truuuuuuucks!

Sean quote:  "They've taken a perfectly good bench wall and ruined it by putting a bench in front of it."

This is Julian looking carefully for another Ray Bradbury book for me in a book shop in  Carlsbad, CA. Are ya kiddin' me? {heart}

My oldest brother is dad to the oldest grandchild in our family who's 26. I remember my brother saying once that he realized, perhaps a little too late, that kids are who they are by the time they're about ten or so and if he could he might go back and do things a little differently, make special use of that time. It's something I think about. I do feel that the days of malleability are slipping through my fingers. The clay is hardening, if you will. (p.s. I worked on this blog post for quite some time before seeing I had originally typed "claw is hardening."  What kind of metaphor would that be, Jen?? Made me laugh.)   

On our drive to California we passed Las Vegas and the most amazing thing happened.  Behold:

JEN: Look, there it is, Julian: Sin City.

JULIAN: Huh.  I wonder if that's offensive to citizens there? Or maybe they're called "sinizens?" 

JEN: *MUCH LAUGHTER.* {cry face cry face} 

Baby's first pun!  Seriously, he is so clever. I am dying over it.

JULIAN: Hey, is it possible to give advice to Walmart?
SEAN: No, they're legendary on that. They do what they like.

 Julian has a lot of gal pals and this particular one I love. She is my buddy too.  We took her on an outing and this funny dialogue took place where she almost blew my attempts at keeping Julian pure in terms of how boys and girls are viewed. It's my attempt to subtly bring him up feministically and, though things can threaten to thwart my attempts, we're still going strong.  For example:

JULIAN: I like your nails. I get mine painted sometimes.

GALPAL:  You do? [giggle]  What color?

JULIAN: sparkles.  

GALPAL: [giggle, giggle]

JEN: [giggle]  That's right, sparkles are the best. *Looks down at sparkly toes.*

Dang, it was a moment of him recognizing that maybe it wasn't a boy thing too and that he wasn't all too sure he wanted to say more.  "...sparkles..." Dang. 

A couple of weeks ago we were at the library and I found the American Girl books.  I loooved these as a tween but back in my day there were only like four girls.  I thought they were so great and would always keep my eagle eye out for one I hadn't read, any time I visited a library, and it was like gold when I found one.  So, a fan of the originals, I selected Molly Saves the Day (Molly is the girl from WWII times, if you'll recall).   The stories are so great, the little illustrations throughout are so well done and fun.  We read it and I was happy to see it was just as good as I'd thought when i was 10.  Julian enjoyed it too and asked if we could get some more and I had to stay cool a little bit-- "sure, yeah."  while secretly cheering gleefully.   

So in this same car ride it somehow came up and Julian mentioned we'd been reading them.

GAL PAL:  [giggle] You like American Girl?

JEN, interjecting: I mean, why not, right? They're great stories and really well written. Stories about girls can be for boys too.  

Honestly it's an effort to combat all these societal notions instilled in these kids at such a tender age. But it's a battle I'm happy to fight and i pump my fist to the heavens every single day.  A few days later we checked out Meet Molly and Meet Samantha (from the Victorian era) and I figuratively did another fist pump while acting like it's a completely normal thing for books with female protagonists to be for boys, because it is. It is normal. 

Greatest piano practice quote everrrr:
"I never wanted to learn piano! I'll probably grow up to be a famous
musician and that's not what I want to do with my life!" {cry, sob, cry}
Dyyyiiinnggguh. At least he has no lack for confidence.

Oh man, the piano lessons. How proud of this kid am I? If there was ever any question about whether or not you should make your kid learn an instru---YES. THE ANSWER IS YES. ALWAYS YES.  It's been amaaaazing and everything I could ever learn about parenting and life in general is demonstrated through sitting next to a kid during piano practice.  It is a universe all of its own. So many things we learn. Patience, emotion management, perseverance, goal-making, progress-checking, confidence, and then the good ol' drilling, drilling, drilling. Then the brief but euphoric feeling of satisfaction when you finally get it right.  We have had so many amazing conversations and gone through so many battles together and come out on the other side.  He's on duets now and I sit with him and we work and it's the best thing I've ever done with my life. The other day someone asked him how he liked his piano teacher, who is great. He said, "She's good, I like her a lot. But my mom is really the one who teaches me."   *CHEER CHEER HOLDING UP TROPHY.*

"I hope I have a kid like me."  
"Oh yeah? What is it about you that you like, that you'd want your kid to have?"
"I'd want everything I have in me."

 As mentioned, I'm hearing aaaall sorts of things that I say repeated back to all of us and really, I couldn't be more pleased. I mean of course this has always happened but for some reason it feels different now, like oh, you've voluntarily adopted this into your vocabulary.  I am always commending Julian on his vocab and word choice and perhaps there's a good reason why.  A few words I've noticed he says on the reg:

1. Enorme.  Meaning large, in French.  Sean scoffed a little until I told him it's a real word, not just an abbreviation. Now he sees how cultured he is.

2. Forev.  "I haven't done that in forev!"

3. Delish.  It's just weird because it sounds just like me. I feel like I'm listening to me talk. Again, extremely proud.  But so weird.

There have been a bunch but those are the ones I managed to write down. 



Dear Julian, I love so much about the things you choose to be.   I love your progress at self-mastery. You've come oceans, my friend.  I love how if you spill on your shirt, your solution is to simply turn it around and wear it backward.  New shirt!  I love how we are best friends and spend hours hugging and expressing our love every day.  I love adventuring with you, whatever it is.  

At Ruby's on the pier. 

 Happy 9th, best friend.


Joel said...

This melts my stony heart. I see some interesting oldest-child similarities to my own Samuel, and Julian is obviously a brilliant kid. It sounds like he's got his pick of the gal pals. But I would totally hook him up with my oldest girl, who is only a few months younger. (I have no idea if that link will work.)

I love the feminist attitude. I always let my boys enjoy pink as their favorite color or wear their sister's shoes or whatever, and my four-year-old daughter said last night that she wants to be a fireman. You go, girl! You can be anything you want to be.

)en said...

OMG- that pic is good, real good. Yeah, I'm on board with that. Julian's currently in the middle of a serious crush on a classmate, continuing from last year, but let's just see how that pans out; you never know.

Joel, LOVE all you said about letting your kids just like what they like. I have all the heart eyes for that kind of stuff. Also fifty high-tens. Wow, I've really let emojis seep into my vocabulary, haven't I... (Thinking emoji...)

suvi said...

Jen I love this and I love you and I love Julian and Sean. Man alive I wish we were still neighbors. Happy birthday to that incredible human you get to hang out with! And way to train him up to be so dang incredible.

)en said...

And I love YOU! And I do TOO! 😭 ❤️