Thursday, June 20, 2019

In Love With Summer

Well, it finally happened.  Something we thought impossible, nothing but a distant memory of the way things used to be:  It got warm. And not only that, but it's the most beautiful, temperate June of my life.  June is the beauty, the queen of all the months. It is glowing fairy dust and constantly carried music serenading all who stroll through.  But this June has been extra-enchanted.  First, the roses. The roses are bigger, bolder, brighter, smelling of candy. I am shocked at all the roses wherever I go. At a friend's house, where I spent an inordinate amount of time walking up to her door, smelling the roses one by one so that she eventually opened it and was like, "Jen?" --and sort of caught me there.  The roses at the mini-golf course--roses, the one thing that could distract me from meaningless competition. The roses that dot the roads and pathways all around me.  I have a radar for them and it is constantly going berserk.

What else? Julian is a dreamy dream and making it so fun.  First, he's growing and maturing. I wrote this down in his book of remembrance at the end of May. It illustrates pretty well:

Right now, I am watching you eat a snack while you read at the table. It's leftover mac 'n cheese and you heated it up yourself.  I smiled as I watched you eat, with your elbow lifted high so as to avoid the cup of water placed near your bowl to the right.  Always does this happen, and always are we moving the cup over and out of the way so you can eat with your arm down and removing the risk of you knocking over your cup, which is pretty high.  I watched you, thinking how endearing it was, wondering how long it would last.  And I swear to you, just as I thought these things, you paused your eating, moved your cup over and out of the way, and resumed.  You are growing up. :(  

Do you ever just sit and watch someone you care about? Sort of from a distance? Noticing their movements, their mannerisms.  Reflecting on them, being a quiet witness to a moment in their day, their life? Examining who they are or at least seem to be? It's kind of the best. I feel like I captured something magical because I decided to be still and simply observe.

To illustrate further, here's a picture I put up on Instagram near Mother's Day:

He came with me to pick up some banh mi kind of far away, just to keep me company.  I asked him why he was so good and he said he was just returning the favor of me birthing him, that he would always be returning that favor.  While sitting here he opened his bag of pandas and handed me some.  After a minute I reached my hand out for more and, nose in his Reader's Digest, he misunderstood and moved the book over so he could hold my hand while he read.  I felt a little bad that what I really wanted was another panda but he smiled with it all because he is the very best boy i have ever known in my life. 

Here he is on on the last day of 3rd grade and another instagram pic:

Really, this is who he is.  He often says things to me like, "thanks, m'ladeh" or, in a southern drawl,
"where did a babe like you come from?" or, "you are my sultan..." and refers to himself
as Don Juan.  I mean, what do I do? what does one do? 

But he's amazing. He is chill, he is hilarious, he is kind and thoughtful and giving.  He does jobs he knows I hate like emptying the dishwasher and feeding the cats-- just so I don't have to do them. ON HIS OWN. He is responsible, doing things because he knows he should. He makes us laugh, is quick to right his wrongs.  In many ways, he is so changed that I have to be so careful to tread lightly with my reprimands. Keep them gentle and short, if they are even necessary in the first place.  Because he is quick to correct himself, to apologize, to fix it. He is so obedient, but still fun.  It makes me feel a little bit terrible, like I have been this mean monster mom and now he's like, "nice mom...good mom..."  He just wants to make me happy. Sigh.

I guess what it is is he's finally caught up to his emotions a bit and it has never been such smooth sailing as it is these days. I am in awe of him. Several weeks ago I expressed my stress at making sure he had enough friend time, social time, which has been one of my main concerns on my long list of Julian's needs to tend to.  He has a few friends but not many and I often feel a lot of pressure about it. Until this happened.  He put his hand on my shoulder, looked at me, and said, "Mom, it's ok. I'm fine. I'm my own friend. I like playing with people but I love reading and pacing and playing with legos."      I'm my own friend.  {burst into tears face}  I asked him why he was so good (a constant question) and he said, "Because I'm happy!"  Again, ugly cry face.

The other day I was trying to drive us somewhere I wasn't familiar with. First, I nearly missed the turn and had to hit the brakes and turn awkwardly, making us laugh. Then I got on the roundabout and missed the exit road and had to circle back around which is always funny, like we're a car of clowns doing a roundabout just for fun.  He commented, "comedy of errors!"  And I'm like, who is this kid? WHO?

Last summer I signed him up for a lego class at the community center.  He was interested but when the time came to part ways, he flipped out as he's done many times in the past due to being prone to separation anxiety, and was like, "NOPE. Not doing it" and I, learning form the past, knew to quickly say, "YUP, you're going to love it. It won't last forever. I can't wait to hear about it, bye!" and flee.  When I picked him up he was so happy and loved it the whole week, even though he didn't know anyone else there.

I signed him up again for this summer . He started this week and when I had finished signing him in, he was already on the floor building things with kids. I tried to get his attention to say goodbye but he was in the zone, so i just left. So weird and wonderful. I thought that might be it for summer camps but then at the end of the school year Sean and I saw him perform in a little class play where he had a million lines that he memorized and he delivered them so well and was so funny! We shouldn't have been surprised, but we kind of were. It was so fun to see him in a new setting like that. I asked him if he'd be interested in a drama class or something and he said he would be. Though I had my doubts, I found one at a local theater and asked him again if he'd like to take it. He said he would. I said, "even thought you won't know anyone?"  "Sure."  And he did it! Happily! Every day! Not one speck of hesitation even though he was the only boy, an environment I'm sure would suit him just fine (and it did). He had a good time even though the class wasn't quite what he wanted it to be.  I was dying at all of this. It's just so different, so so different from the way things used to be. I'm so humbled by the change in him.  Can hardly believe it.  He's amazing.

When Julian was about 5.5 years old, we attended a friend's wedding in Nashville, TN.  Kids were not included in the invitation but this was a dear friend who knew and loved Julian well so he was a part of the group. But there weren't many kids there other than family.  At the reception party there was dancing and Julian TORE IT UP.  We had no idea he had it in him. I remember taking him to the bathroom and he was frantic to finish and get back on the dance floor.  Sean and I sat agape watching him spin out to the beat under the flashing lights.    He dances here and there when he's really feeling it and it always kills me.  The other day he and I were at the mall when he made up a dance move. He said, "it's a combination of the floss and the dab. I call it The Flab."   HA!  So proud, for so many reasons.  Here's a video:

Since we were on a roll, I told him there was a hip hop dance camp and asked if he'd want to do that. He said he would and we'll see if it happens but I can't get over how willing he is to put himself out there and try new things. How unafraid he is to be on his own, and his ability to recognize that he has a place no matter where he is or who he's with.

He's also quite civically-minded.  We've been working on getting rid of single-use plastic in our home and now he's considering starting a campaign to do so at his school. The other day we went to Walmart after a huge storm and all the trees had been knocked over. It was quite a sad scene and Julian jumped to their rescue while Sean and I sat on a nearby bench and chatted because he is a better human being than we are.

red shorts in the background

We've been running around like crazy the past two weeks. Parades and festivals. Carnivals and fairs. Camps and piano lessons and museums. Hikes and a mini-trip back up to ID. Summer worksheets because, MATH. Movies in the park. Weekly food trucks. It's all been so fun (esp. the math).  Julian is game for everything.  Our library was inviting community members to be in the parade dressed as aliens to go with the summer reading space them.  Sean whipped up a couple of aliens and Julian and a friend marched in the parade while we cheered him on. The boys loved it. I reflected, thinking if I'd done anything right as a parent, it was instill in my child a love of being in parades.

It was 50 degrees this day. I'll take a cool parade over a sweaty hot one any day, there, I said it!

We got him a phone watch (watch phone?) this summer. He can call and send texts but voice messages work best as the texting is limited to the programmed phrases already in the phone as well as a handful of emojis. But he can receive any kind of text from whatever number is on his contact list. So far it's worked quite well. I love sending him away knowing we can be in touch if necessary.  After the parade he went to the nearby park where the carnival was happening. Sean and I later joined up so i could win a prize in the baking contest, WHICH I DID. WITH MY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES.  It was second place and i was excited about it because they were totally over-baked. So just think what's going to happen next year when they're baked right.   And actually, Sean won the prize, because I had submitted a pie as well and was worried there could only be one item per entrant, so I signed him up. Good job, Sean! It was awesome. Winning things is the best.   While that was happening, Julian was running wild, getting soaked in the soapy suds jumpy thing and running from friend to friend from school, pausing only to grab a bite of chicken here and there.  Ah, summer.

We stay up too late and wake up not late enough.  I am busy driving a lot as I've signed myself up for a golf class in Salt Lake.  I'm hoping it helps me with my tennis game, to be honest, but it is definitely tricky.  I'm not sure how much I love the sport but I enjoy learning new things and getting a good stroke or swing or whatever in, out of dozens of failed attempts, creates quite a euphoric feeling.  I feel like George Costanza-- "that's it, I'm out!" wanting to leave on a high note.  It's frustrating not being good at it. But it's also a little therapeutic to whack at a ball for an hour and a half.

We read a lot. I've read two biographies recently and Julian is finishing up his set of Nancy Drews he got from the little library exchange box off the nearby bike trail.  We both signed up for the summer reading program and it is intense.  I read Rob Lowe's biography which was entertaining and kind of silly, but not horrible.  There were some poignant moments. Also read Trevor Noah's which I loved. It's about his growing up in South Africa and it was very eye-opening, thought-provoking, very well-written and entertaining. Highly recommend.

Julian asked me if there was a way he could earn some money. I told him I was feeling bake-y so we could have one big epic bake sale.  In one day, I made:

  • strawberry rhubarb crumble (my 3rd of the season and I finally fixed all my previous errors)
  • salted chocolate crack pie
  • classic tart apple
  • banana cream
  • and of course, the chocolate chip cookies for weirdos who don't like pie

    All of it homemade-- ALL OF IT! It was amazing.  I made the crusts the day before (pro tip) but other than that, all of the rest was completed from 12:00-4pm.  I was kind of proud of myself and found myself in a strange kind of baking flow. You know, where things just go right, all the steps fall into place. All the little things that need to be made first are made first and chilled.  It was glorious. I have zero pictures, sadly, but the pies were ALL good and that's all i ever wanted in my life:  For all the pies I made to be good.  And Julian made bank and lived happily ever after. 
He had been a little sick a few days prior and I asked him, "how's your head?"  He replied, "Good!" then quietly, "...i like it a lot."   which just made me giggle.   Then he told me a joke he said he made up. I'm not sure I believe him but he said he did:

Q: What do you call a train that's in the station?

obviously we need a cat picture. tender.

i love these scenes. also sean's rain jacket can't go unacknowledged. i'm pretty jealous. 

He is so adorable, i can't stand it. those cool blue glasses, those dimples.

He told me the other day, "I didn't know it was Amsterdam and not Hamsterdam."  

on a recent hike. Julian conquered the mountain.

Time is flying by more swiftly every day. I can feel it and see it in the kid before me.  I know the summer will be the same, and as I finish up this blog post I am inclined to reflect back on the title-- I said I was in love with summer, but it may be that I'm really in love with the boy.

"Gimme all your fours." 

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