Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Bless My Soul, He's Twelve

 And if he's twelve, that must mean I'm A HUNDRED AND TWO. (re: the title of this post) I can't understand the passage of time. I've tried.  It goes by so fast these days and hits me square in the face. I feel like I get mowed down by a runaway train. A runaway train that also cuts grass as it goes.  And I have that feeling repeatedly. Over and over, here comes the renegade time train, and here I am, still somehow caught in its path. Every once in a while I can snag myself on it and, bloody-faced, just enjoy the scenery as it flashes by in a blur, but usually it shakes me off and then chases me in the middle of the night. Renegade hit-man mower-train.

Anyway. The boy has grown. This year was a big year in many, many ways. And one of those ways was Julian grew up and got a head start on ye olde puberty. I wasn't ready for it. Nobody prepared me. It felt like it happened literally over night. I went to bed, he was a boy, I woke up, he was an unfamiliar boy, six inches taller, with a deep voice and all kinds of other joyful changes. I've never felt more blindsided. Curse you, mower-train.

He's still a funny, odd, emotional child-being, tween-person. He's intense, anxiety-ridden, affectionate, tease-y, and I don't even try to keep up with his brain anymore. (talk about a runaway train. I just stand outside and be sure to wave when it passes by.  It always comes around again. And again. And again. And there I am, just waving and shrugging, waving and shrugging.) I'm going to list a few things, post a few pictures, and paste some good quotes to celebrate this child I apparently birthed as he plows into his 13th year. 


1. Cats. He loves our cat. We tried to get a new cat because we foolishly thought our cat needed a friend. FALSE. They hated each other. But when he brought home the new one, he slept in the basement with it to give it some company. And then we found a nice old schoolteacher to take her because THE HATE. it was real. 

2. Minecraft. We got Julian a Switch for Christmas and it's fun because I like it too. We play Just Dance, Mario Kart, Mario Party, but he plays Minecraft, either alone or with a friend. When he plays alone, he hates the sounds on Minecraft so he turns the volume all the way down and then plays jazz music on the echo dot while he plays--el oh el. Weirdo! But it's a perfect avenue for his crazy train brain. All his imaginative powers go into builds. And I get to hear about every second of it. #blessed. 

3. History. This kid has turned into quite the little Anglophile.  He loves British history--the monarchies, the tudors, he knows castle names. He is really into the Horrible History books, if you've got a slightly disturbed history buff like we have, bless his heart.  We have big plans to someday go on a trip to the UK. We're calling it The Great British Take Off, and periodically he adds things to the list--castles and museums he wants to see.  Can't wait. We have him do virtual classes in the summer sometimes to break up the day and he gets to pick the topic. Right now he's doing a Minecraft Writing Camp that's two hours every day for a week. Students choose a landmark that they have to build and then do a google slide report on it so they have to do some research as well. He is super excited about it which blows my little mind. I've spent 11.75 years trying to find something that might interest this kid. When we hit something, it's a huge deal. For his landmark, he chose Big Ben, naturally.  

4. The cul-de-sac. Remember last summer, and how weird it was to finally be able to leave our homes? Being indoors and isolated for months compelled Julian to put himself out there a bit and interact with some neighbor kids. I've spent this entire past year praising the heavens above for this fact. The cul-de-sac exists through a gap in our backyard and he goes to play with kids who are out and, again, prayers of Thanksgiving. They laze around, play made-up games, stay up for night games. Magic. 

5. Space. Specifically rocketry. He joined a club of local boys who have a goal of building and successfully launching a rocket to space by the time the oldest graduates high school. I think they're all middle school-aged boys. I only know one other kid in the group. They only meet virtually on a website one of them made for their purposes. Julian is part of the engineering subgroup. They have a message board.  Julian has zoom meetings and had to interview with the boys in charge and be accepted. So funny and adorable and oh-so nerdy. Love it. So I need to find a book on rockets for him (NOT for kids, he says). Anyone got any suggestions? Like I said, don't even try to keep up anymore. I just try to bring him back to earth every now and then and squeeze in a social skill lesson if I can. 

6. Books. Loves to read. Reads books he's not had much interest in just to fit in with kids and know what they're talking about. (Fablehaven, which he now concedes to love.)  He told me all he wants for his birthday is every book John Christopher has written. So he's got some favorite authors which is the best. I also force him to let me read to him on occasion.

7. Russian hard bass music. Yes, you read that right. There's a song on Just Dance called Vodovorot and for some reason, he just fell in love and it's become an obsession. He loves the band, XS Project. He listens to their stuff ALL the time, for easy listening, which it is NOT. I can't stand it, as you can imagine. It's sooo weird and random and funny, and just weird. For his birthday, Sean made an XS Project poster for him and he was so happy. It makes me laugh so hard on the inside. One day we're going to look at it and laugh even harder. SO WEIRD. 


Let's have some pictures from the year. I have a lot. I'll put them in chronologically so you can see a little bit of what I mean about it being a craaaazy year of growth, and perhaps give me some advice on how to deal. 

First, a picture of Julian from the backseat. Jan 1. Here's a classic Julian speech to go with (as it happened):

"In the 1500's, people got what was called the Dancing Flu, where people literally danced until they dropped. You'd just give them a beat and they couldn't keep from dancing. They'd keep going until they died of exhaustion or thirst or hunger. This is a real thing! I don't know why you don't believe me. I've read it in a lot of places--reliable sources, not 'Ripley's Believe it or Not.  ... I'll let you post that if you buy me a book."  

This one went on the Gram, and he indeed get a new book. We go to Barnes and Noble sometimes, our old home away from home. 

Half-birthday, mid-February. Gotta celebrate literally in any way we can. 

Didn't want to disturb this intimate moment, but still needed to snap a pic. 

April. For Spring Break, he and I went to Goblin Valley, staying in Green River. There's basically one restaurant there. We know it well. We were sitting outside waiting for our name to be called. Julian had a book and I had my phone but we were both engrossed in the goings-on of a family next to us-- a mom and like a hundred boys scrambling and fighting all around and over her. It was MOST entertaining.  We shared many laughs and comments afterward, and both sort of basked in our simple quiet existence.  I wish I could remember all the things said. It was a comedy show. 

Guess what else is over there that we never visited until this trip? Little Wildhorse Canyon, the coolest slot everrrr! Maybe not ever. But I loved the heck out of it. So wind-y and narrow and slotty. Julian was unsure as he had to scale some rocks and walls. Kid prefers his feet firmly on the ground. 

At what age do kids morph into their parents? Asking for a cool best friend.

May. Lest you think this next one is a nice, normal pic, I think that's gum there, stretched from his mouth to his knee. I laugh at the stage when kids' legs shoot out like beanstalks and everything else sort of stays the same. 

Julian has a "how to be a man" book and one of the pages instructs how to cook a chicken. Since we have a professional chef, Sean took the time to show Julian the ropes, a kid who always wants to just do the thing without any help or instruction or previous knowledge/know-how, etc...

End of 5th grade. Julian's teacher took this pic. Cracks me up. Classic.

 Wax Museum thing the 5th grade does. He dressed as one of the Wright Brothers and gave an oral report or something. This kid knows more about history than so many adults. 

Last day of school. Vibes are strong here. 

June. Have you ever gotten an 11-year-old ready for his first roughing it campout with other kids his age? Goodness gracious. What an ordeal. The lists, the packing, the informing of what is in his pack, the rolling, the stuffing of sleeping bag, the joyous complaining generously sprinkled throughout. My word. And guess what? he did it like a champ. Hiked carrying this thing, slept in a tiny tent in 30-degree temps, ate weird foods. In short: roughed it.  

Sometimes Kid brings his stuff in and sleeps in our bedroom. It's a family slumber party, one where we all quietly read books and turn out the lights at 10:30. {party emoji}

July. We're trying to see how long he can wear size 3T shirts. 

"Oo, let's get some Whoopers."   Dang, when will I learn not to laugh my guts out when he says things incorrectly, so he won't know they're wrong, so he'll keep saying them?  Dang. Combine this with his general "always right" attitude and it's solid gold. "What? It's Whoopers."  

We camped with some friends at Hyrum State Park in Northern Utah. Never been? Go. It's lovely. I was surprised. I expect most places to be dried out wastelands but this was kind of a gem. I think this was a marshmallow for me. Julian doesn't eat them. Not roasted, anyway. I know. 

August. We went to Cancun this summer. It was... an experience. I'll save those details for another day but here are some pics. I love beach trips with this little fam. May he always love the ocean. Or the sea, as it were. 

...and taking adorable pics with his Ma. 

...and eating at fancy Thai restaurants at 10pm. 

...and getting room service and playing Mario Party all morning. (who wouldn't always love that)

August. Julian's bday is always marred by the start of school. Sometimes it's right before, or after, or ON. This year it landed on the second day so.. not so bad? He had a little party with friends and then another little but cooler party with his parents. He got a billion books and we finished watching The Hobbit.  Guess what I learned? The extended version of Battle of the Five Armies is rated R. So, that's fun. I was deeply disturbed by what I saw. 

First day of 6th grade. Check out this tall drink of water: 

Yes, his candles spell out "lamprey."  


Now for the quotes. I've got a few saved in my phone and they are gems. Perhaps you can get a feel for this interesting person for yourself. 


"I dreamed I said the word 'ecscape' and it woke me up."  

BRAHAHA.  Remember what a grammar expert he is? 


"For me, sleep is a crazy chaotic journey, the kind that when it's over, you wake up finally in peace." 

Boy, i know that struggle. These days, "good night" has turned into "good luck" for everyone. "Good morning" -- > "how'd you do?" 


Over spring break, he and I went to Green River and did some Goblin Valley and Little Wild Horse Canyon hiking. We had a great time full of lots of jokes. One of the perhaps less fun games of our hiking was him asking me what I thought every single rock or boulder that we passed weighed.

JULIAN: How much do you think this whole mountain weighs?
JEN: Twenty million metric tons. 


"Well, I had a dream I licked a rusty pole and got leukemia."


"There's no difference between too hard and too easy."


"I was thinking late last night about refrigeration and what we would do without it."


Some back-to-school quotes:

"I have some hard feelings about the book fair at school."

"I remembered that piloting a gigantic long swing is no laughing matter." 


And to close, I will let him self-describe as perhaps he can say it best:

           "You know, one way I would describe myself is 'contrary to popular belief.'" 

 Literally could not say it better. Happy 12th, Ghoulian. 


Ash said...

What a fantastic tribute. If one could capture the essence of this kid in one fell swoop, this would be it. He is a delight, this man kid. Good luck traversing puberty.

Alanna said...

I can't BELIEVE how fast that kid is growing up! I feel like it's sort of unfair to have a boy grow so fast so young (although Craig informs me he's much less likely to get picked on, so maybe it's a good thing?). It always amazes me just how much personality these kids come with, and we're just along for the ride. I'm sure someone warned me about that before I had any babies, but I doubt I believed them...

And I'm still laughing about "whoopers!"

)en said...


Early puberty! Such a zinger. But maybe you and Craig are right.

)en said...

Thanks. I think I might need it. Send any tips. Right now I’m going with “stay the heck out of the way”