I never seem to have time to write letters to the kids anymore. I have drafts, but they take me a long time and none of them are complete. I don't know when they will be, so rather than work under the pressures of a full-blown missive, I've decided to just stream-of-conscious style check in with each of my three. Who they are, what they're doing, what makes me think of them right at this very moment. Facebook just told me that 10 years ago today we found out we were having a baby boy, so we'll start with Landon.
Landon is nearly 10 and somehow also nearly 17. He's started styling his hair every morning, with results equally impressive and amusing (and alarming, given how old I feel like he suddenly looks). He is very much into his friends, his recess four-square games, and Ninjago Legos. He has explained the Ninjago universe to me for hours, offering pop quizzes along the way, and, adorably, interprets my wrong answers as a need for more lessons rather than my utter uninterest in the subject. Yesterday he presented me with a diagram of characters, hair styles, weapons, and elemental powers, along with an illustrated guide. My cooking at night is routinely interrupted by "MOM! This is really important. What is Cole's elemental power?" We also had a fierce debate on what constitutes an "element" after the told me "Wind" was an element, right alongside Helium, Hydrogen, Carbon, and Fire.
He is rather quietly brilliant. He loves school and has never hinted at boredom, but he finishes tests quickly and rarely gets less than 100. He reads as fast as I do, generally devouring a book each night. He has a big heart. He makes statements that show he takes a deeper look at things and the emotions of others. He recognizes the work behind others' actions, particularly James and mine, and he appreciates them. He loves to make surprises for us. He is suddenly very interested in money- the earning of it, the saving, the spending, and what everything in the world costs. In the last month he has referred to "the girls" in his friend group as a distinct entity. "Mom, the girls were invited to the party too and they chased us for an hour." He has size 7 feet and a "don't forget to put on deodorant" sticky note on his bathroom mirror. He drives us crazy telling stories full of undefined pronouns. "Mom! They went to the place to do the things but no one was there." Full story. He is delighted by matching pj sets. He still hates cheese.
We- James, me, and mostly Landon- have gotten his fits under control in the last 5 months. I think one of the biggest changes has been our reactions. I can write about mine. Our main difficulty with Landon's unpredictable tantrums was always that they seemed triggered by nothing- worse than nothing, he'd flip out on the best days- the days we did fun, expensive, totally Landon oriented things for hours and then suddenly one tiny thing would go wrong (he dropped a mint on the ground and I told him he couldn't eat it) and he would lose. his. shit. "I hate today. Today has been the worst day of my life. Everything is terrible," etc., etc. etc. after hours of fun. It made me crazy and he knew it. I've cobbled together this saying from a blog comment and an article I read and I repeat it when I know we're in a situation where he's purposefully trying to work me up (acting ungrateful is probably my biggest trigger; recognizing this, and recognizing that HE recognizes this has been my biggest breakthrough) -- his level of emotion is not my level of emotion. He can spiral up and down and hit every button I have. His level of emotion is not my level of emotion. Nothing makes a situation spiral out of control faster than when I forget this and nothing calms a situation down to a simmer like when I remember. "I'm sorry you're upset right now. I'm going to go in my room and [fold laundry, lay down, read a book, pretend to meditate], let me know when you want to talk about it." Zooming out, looking at the situation as if I were a third-party dispassionate adult. Basically the same thing I do in my marriage when I feel upset over something I'm pretty sure I shouldn't be. Zoom out. Also, recognizing when Landon gets upset, but stays in control. We failed to acknowledge that for a long time, thinking, yeah, of course you should be calm right now - literally nothing is happening to you. But now I recognize it as the victory it is. And later, when I'm quite sure we're not turning nothing into a thing, I'll comment on it. "I saw that you were getting upset earlier, but you took some deep breaths and stayed level. I'm really proud of you." Nothing is magic, but for us, those two things very nearly have been.
He's an amazing kid. Of our three I think he's the least like James or me and we spend a lot of time simply bemused and baffled by him. He's incredibly generous, has no sense of possession, and is genuinely unimpressed with his grades. He thinks they're nice and I'm sure he'd be upset if they went down, but they aren't part of his worth. He's competitive, but not aggressive. He's inquisitive, but isn't bothered if he doesn't know the answer. He is an increasingly grown-up and distinct entity within our family, yet he remains my little boy who sneaks handmade cards into my purse and onto nightstand. He is a more generous big brother than his sisters often deserve and he delights in the little joys in life. We still can't take him to Target without him acting like he's at Disney World and has never been out of the house before -- "Mom! Mom! Did you see this display? That's a big dog up there! MOM! They have princess shaped crackers! Cora would love that! Oh Mom!!" He doesn't ask for any of it, he's just delighted it's there.
He needs people and loves to be in a gaggle of friends. He is Wrangler of the Month for March at his school. He loves facts and is constantly sharing them with the rest of us (whether we want to know the name of the world's largest insect or not). He is self-directed; last night I found him in his room making flash cards to quiz himself for the championship Battle of the Books round in a few months. He wants a fish and a golden retriever puppy. His favorite colors are blue, green, red, and orange. He uses the word "epic" more than is justified.
His new career goals are to be a Ninjago Lego designer, an engineer, and/or a National Geographic Explorer. Luckily for us, while he may suddenly look like a teenager, he still has some time to decide.