Growing Up Is Losing Some Illusions, In Order To Acquire Others

Oh, my sweet Alexander,

Today marks the day that you turn eight years old. Eight. A huge number. Two away from double digits and closer to being a teenager than I can manage to think about just yet.

DSCF0120 You are marvelous. I’m honestly not sure I tell you that enough. I’m not sure you know just how much I adore you. Just how much you are adored by me, your father, your grandparents, your fake uncles and aunts. How well liked you are by nearly every adult you meet, and how sought after you are as a playmate. We tell you, sure, but do you get it?

All children are special, and I know I’m very biased, but I honestly think that you are unique. Outside of the fact that I’m your mother and obviously think you are great, I truly believe you are spectacularly special. You are one of the most kind-hearted, sensitive, and sweet, people I’ve known. You still ask to hold my hand. Every night, I sing you a song before bed. You want kisses, hugs, and cuddles every single day, multiple times a day. You won’t let people kill bugs, you have decided you don’t want a dog (besides the fact that you are so allergic) because you don’t want to be sad when it dies, and when I so much as get a little angry at you? You get very upset, sometimes cry, and it’s not an act.

The other night, as I held your hand and rubbed your back, tucking your blankets in around you, I told you a list of things you had done that day that made me happy. We had spent the day with one of your friends, and I couldn’t help but choke up as I explained all of the things you did, how you handled yourself, that made me so proud to be your mother. You were willing to put aside what you wanted for your friend. You were willing to ask them how you could help when they got upset, kindly asking what was wrong when they started to melt down, quietly nudging them back into happiness and asking how you two could make your time together work. You were so mature and kind, and I’ve never told a story about your behavior that made me as proud or tear up as much as this one.

Last Day of First Grade!

Every year, I write you a letter on this blog. Every year, I love to talk about what you learned. You learned to walk. You learned to talk. You learned to run and throw a ball and swim. You learned to read and write and do simple math. You learned to be more independent. But this year? This year you showed me what you’ve been learning all along: how to be a good human.

Alex, you are a good human.

I couldn’t be more proud.

Love,
Mom

When you turned one!

When you turned two!

When you turned three!

When you turned four!

When you turned five!

When you turned six!

When you turned seven!

Some Days, Part 6 (The Summer Edition)

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Heeeeey, Taylor. (June 6 part 5)

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WE LOVE ICE CREAM OMG. (June 8 part 2)

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Hello, gorgeous. (June 9 part 2)

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Mary Poppins o'clock! (June 18 part 2)

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Wheeeeee! (July 15 part 3)

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Friends make Kennywood even better. (July 15 part 4)

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Bathroom selfie. #rachbachelmira

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Selfie o'clock! (July 29 part 4)

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He caught a fish! (July 30)

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First ride of the day. Amazing. (Aug 11)

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Boat day. Aw, yeah. (Aug 15)

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Oh, those boys of mine. (Aug 20 part 2)

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Summer Fun

This was our first summer together in many years. Alex has been going to full time care during the summer, hopping between summer camps or simply sticking with daycare. He’d loved those camps, but with me not working it was obvious that we would spend the summer together. Our first time spending all day nearly every day with one another has been pretty great, and I can’t believe that we are in the last two weeks of freedom. We are officially very close to the start of second grade.

Alex has definitely enjoyed doing absolutely nothing most days. He’s enjoyed being able to tell me that he doesn’t want to go anywhere. Every morning, I ask him what he wants to do, and nearly every day he responds, “I don’t know. Just hang out here?”

So, we do that. He has lots of screen time, jumping between video games, Minecraft, and movies, all of his very favorite activities, and I plan our upcoming trip to Europe, anxiously thinking about how to pack and what activities we will do and where we will get cash and how we will get around and and and…

We’ve also gone to the amusement park a few times, the zoo, swimming, out with friends and family, and recently spent a long weekend in The Poconos with my best friend.

Poconos Vacay 2015

There was fishing, and swimming, and, of course, lots of junk food and marshmallows over the fire.

Poconos Vacay 2015

He went to a few day camps, had an overnight at a far away camp where he slept in a cabin and went zip lining and was without family supervision. So, that was A Thing. (A Thing for his parents, not for him. He loved it and very nearly decided to go for an entire week by himself!)

This summer has flown by. It’s flown by in beautiful colors and I’m hopeful that it won’t be our last together. But even if it is? I’m glad we had it.

Pittsburgh Zoo August 2015

And now we have to work on getting back on schedule, back to the School Stuff, back to the really hard reality that is Alex hating school and barely being able to talk about it. If it were up to him, he’d have summer break forever (but only if I could bring his friends with us on most of our adventures. “You’re fun, Mom, but…I just like my friends, too!”).

Fourteen days left. Let’s make the most of it, Kiddo.

Pittsburgh Zoo August 2015

Friends and Furries

Nearly every year for the last three (four?) years, I have spent some time downtown during Anthrocon, the annual convention for furries held right here in Pittsburgh!

This year? It seemed like a good year to take Alex.

Unfortunately, our schedule was a little tight that day so we were only able to stay and Furry Hunt for about 45 minutes. We were there during the parade, this year marking the first year that the parade has been outside. (Typically, I’ve gone down with friends during the evening and basically just hung out around the main hotel chatting and taking tons of pictures.)

It was busy. SO busy. I have never seen it like this before, and while it’s a good thing for the Furries, it was a bit of a bummer for us. As nice as it was to see a huge crowd gather for the parade, I missed being able to easily see everything and everyone I wanted.

Overall, even during the short time I was there, it was so fun. I adore the Furries and I love taking their pictures.

Friends and Furries

Friends and Furries

Friends and Furries

Friends and Furries

And who doesn’t love spending time with flurries and friends?

Friends and Furries

Friends and Furries

Friends and Furries

Can’t wait to do it again next year!

Friends and Furries

First Grade: Nailed It

Well, I officially have a second grader living in my house.

Last Day of First Grade!

Who let that happen?

Last Day of First Grade!

First grade ended up being an “okay” year for Alex, if you ask him. It wasn’t as fun as Kindergarten, but he thinks it is going to have been a lot better than the dreaded second grade.

He learned to read. He learned to add and subtract and some basic multiplication. He learned to swing really high, run really fast, and climb farther than ever before. He made friends, a few that he will be seeing regularly this summer. He adored his first grade teacher.

He also learned that kids are mean, that they are judgmental, and that they will hurt your feelings again and again if you let them. He learned some ways to cope with that, and the importance of recognizing when to tell a teacher. He learned to say “screw them”, only in his head!, because honestly, that’s the best I could usually come up with and it often made him laugh. He learned that his parents, his family, and his friends, love and respect him, and that anyone who does not is not worth his time.

Last Day of First Grade!

I know I’m biased, but I think he nailed first grade. He came, he saw, he conquered, and now we have an amazing summer to spend together. We have ten weeks of camps, traveling, activities, and days with nothing at all to do. Ten weeks of pools, amusement parks, playgrounds, and sitting around the house finding entertainment in the most unexpected places.

And also, maybe, growing another eight bajillion inches? (First day versus last day of first grade is crazy!)

Last Day of First Grade!

A Touch More Magic

It’s been about two months since we were in beautiful, magical, Disney World.

When I got the e-mail that our Disney Photopass pictures were going to expire, I scoffed. Why would I pay money for pictures when I took a million and mine are probably way better anyway?

But I’m a curious person, so I went through the pictures. And, I have to admit, there are some really hilarious pictures from the rides. I didn’t quite realize that they were taking pictures on all of these rides, which is evident in how awful I look in all of them. But they are awesome all the same.

Did Alex enjoy the Tower of Terror? If you had any doubt, this pictures proves that he wasn’t lying: he hated it.

Disney Ride Photos

Seeing how happy Zach was in all of the pictures was another question answered. Did he really love it? Well, yeah. The pictures prove it.

Disney Ride Photos

So, I broke down and bought some. I even purchased a family shot because it was so cute. (I had the photo guy take one with my own camera, but he didn’t have us do the silly face, so, good job, Disney! Smart move.)

Disney Ride Photos

I seriously can’t wait to go back.

Some Days, Part 5

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Hey pretty city, from the back of an uber! (May 26)

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Cute. (May 27 part 2)

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Circumspect Alex

Until two weeks ago, Alex has never had a scraped knee.

I don’t remember a time when Alex wasn’t cautious. He’s always been extremely curious about things, but his worry of what might happen should he do them kept him away. His caution on playground equipment, climbing walls, large rocks, you name it!, has kept him pretty safe.

Leave it to this kid, though, to fall while walking and get his first scraped knee.

Scootering!

Because of this fear of hurting himself, he still doesn’t know how to ride a bike. He can’t let himself go fast enough to actually balance, so…he doesn’t. And now? Well, now he knows what happens if you fall on your knee and, “Mooom! I’m not doing that because falling hurts!”

So, the bike sits in the garage and every once in a while I take him out and try to get him to learn and basically I just end up frustrated and he ends up frustrated and we go home angry with each other.

But I wanted him to have some way to get around the neighborhood a little faster, some activity that would be kind of fun if we decide to walk to the ice cream shop this summer, but a bike is no guarantee. Enter: scooter!

Scootering!

He loves this thing.

The knee pads and elbow pads meant that he wasn’t scared, and I’ll make him wear a helmet once he goes faster than my very-slow-leisurely-stroll of a walking pace. So far he just putters along, very proud of himself.

Ever circumspect. Never careless.

Scootering!

Seven And Three Quarters

Lately, Alex has been a little obsessed with the idea of becoming a big brother. (Spoiler alert: he’s not.) I’m guessing it’s because there have been a few babies born lately, and probably most intriguing to him is that one of his friends, who is older than him, became a big sister just about a year ago. So he’s had the pleasure of seeing adorable new babies join his friends’ families in addition to some new humans joining our extended family.

“Mom. If I ever was a big brother? I’d be so good at it.”

(In case you were wondering, he would be nice, make the baby laugh, keep it distracted when it wanted to cry, but probably not ever change a diaper.)

I also think a lot of this talk about wanting to be a Big Brother is a way for him to talk about growing up. He’s becoming more and more independent as the months pass; he’s more and more capable of being a human in the world. He no longer needs me to help him get ready, he shuts the door for privacy sometimes, I feel comfortable leaving him in places by himself sometimes, and he’s even learning how to prepare some real foods (with supervision).

Minecrafting

The other night he asked to stay up a little later than usual to watch a show with Zach. I agreed, as long as he would put himself to bed entirely. “That means you go upstairs, put on pajamas, brush teeth, climb into bed, and go to sleep. By yourself.” He agreed, and I rejoiced! He’s not hard to put to bed. In fact, I kind of love our routine. But when it’s a beautiful night and I have the option to sit outside with a glass of wine and read by myself for twenty minutes? Well, sometimes that wins.

When the show ended, Alex walked outside in his pajamas and hugged me. “Mom, I really don’t want to put myself to bed. Will you please just sing me a song? I promise I’ll go to sleep right away after that.”

How could I say no? (I couldn’t. After having a discussion about how when you say you’re going to do something you do it, because now how can I trust his word? Blah. That kind of thing.)

We walked upstairs, hand in hand, and I tucked him in and sang him a song. Our routine. “Mom, don’t put my noise machine on tonight.”

“No noise machine? Why? You love your noise machine!”

“I know. I don’t need it. I can give it to my baby brother or sister. They will need it more than me.”

“There is no baby who needs it, bud. You can use it as long as you want and it doesn’t make you a baby.”

“I know… but Mom. I’m growing up.”

“I know, bud,” I said, frowning.

“Oh, don’t be sad because then you will make me feel sad,” he returned, choking up.

“I’m not really sad. I mean, I guess I am. But I’m also proud. I’m mostly proud and only a little sad. You are becoming an amazing person and I love watching you grow up.”

“Okay,” he whispered while holding out his hand, silently asking me to take it in mine.

He closed his eyes, and I kissed him goodnight.

My little guy really is growing up. “I’m almost seven and three quarters, Mom. I’m not a little kid.”

Nope. You sure aren’t, bud.

Minecrafting

This Space

I’ve been blogging to some extent for over fifteen years now. I had a very early LiveJournal, then my own website/blog a few years later, and then, when Alex was about 6 months old, I started this ol’ thing here. Allison Says, because I wanted to say things, and writing things is one way to do that. It was a way to connect with other local moms, of which I knew approximately zero, a way to share with far away friends and family, and maybe most importantly it was a way for me to put my thoughts and feelings out there.

Thoughts and feelings aren’t my forte. Well, thoughts are certainly in my wheelhouse, and feelings usually come with those thoughts, but sharing them? Not so much. At least, not about me. It’s not something I’m proud of, and it’s not something I’m particularly ashamed of. It’s just how I am. If we’re close and you ask me my feelings about something? I will tell you. But the chances of me coming out on my own, without a prompt, are slim to none. Those thoughts and feelings stay where my brain and self think they belong: buried inside.

Playground Fun

But I shared things. I shared our struggle to finish college, which we both did, and then I went and got a second degree. I shared my concern about Alex’s language development. I shared our sleep struggles. I shared when he was finally potty trained (thanks, Zach!). The world knew about me going back to school to get a degree in nursing, when I got my first job, when Alex started Kindergarten. But then the regular business turned into general laziness, and even when I found time to blog I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to say. Allison Says not a lot.

Alex is nearly eight years old (::gasp::!) and it’s harder to decide what to write about. How much privacy do we need? Zach and I differ a bit on our opinions on this, with me leaning more towards sharing, oddly enough. So, do I write about my concerns related to Alex’s reading, his dislike of school, his fear of trying new things? Do I share my worry that he’s picked on, and that he has perfectionist tendencies? Or do I just show the good stuff and brag about how awesome our life is? Because it is awesome, regardless of concerns.

Do I continue to try to write and share things that I really mean, events that really hit home for me? Do I go back to writing slightly more polarizing posts that aren’t 100% about Alex? Do I want to share our happiness and our sadness with the world? And if so, which I think I do as I sit here and recap our lives through blogging, how do I do it again? And how do I keep it within what is acceptable for a growing child who has opinions and wants privacy?

How do I continue to use this space? Keep it as is, very rarely posting anything of “value”? Try to give myself the time to actually write something? Try to share more of our lives, both good and bad?

Why I'm a happy mother. Thanks, boys.

This Space has been something for me. It helped me make friends. It helped me stay sane. It shared our lives, however little I put here, with distant relatives. It’s too important to throw away, but it’s been so neglected for so long. Maybe all of this ruminating, this stream of consciousness writing, will set off what I need to make it a more “useful” space. I want to remember these times.