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July 2011
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September 2011

Not fair

Today I took Raphael to the doctor because he had this weird assortment of symptoms that worried me. It doesn't matter what was wrong with him, because as it turns out, the doctor thinks it's pretty minor and easily dealt with.

"I think the only thing to be cautious about..." he looked at me meaningfully, " making certain he isn't getting any secondary gains from this behavior, which could exacerbate it. I think everything will be fine, quickly, as long as he doesn't get an undue amount of attention and concern over it." He all but tapped out in morse code on the exam table, "I diagnose him with worried mother. Back off, lady, and he'll be fine."

So okay, fine. We toddled off, and since it was just the two of us for once, I took him out for lunch, and it was lovely. We also stopped by the store to pick up the medicine the doctor recommended, and it was there, standing in line, that I did the worst thing ever.

Well, I thought to myself, with a bit of a huff, maybe it all will be fine, or then again maybe the doctor is entirely wrong and Raphael will start really going downhill and showing some of those scary, second-level symptoms...

Now, please don't misunderstand me here. I'm not telling you I actually MADE HIM SICK or anything like that. What I'm confessing is the small, shrivelled-heart part of me that was looking for vindication - at the expense of my son - because I was still stinging at some perceived judgement.

And no, I didn't hurt Raphael, and I'd like to imagine I never would. But you never will know what damage you're capable of doing when the desire to be right overwhelms the desire for truth.

I repented, of course. And here I am, confessing. I just think it's not fair that parenthood doesn't come with a get-out-of-broken-humanity-free card. I just don't.

No, YOU shut the door.

Due to a lack of adequate mothering and lapses of judgement on their parts, my sons have taught their baby sister the power of the words, "SHUT UP."

She was trotting around the house, fixing people who irritated her with her steely eye, planting one fist on one tiny hip, and ordering, "SHUT UP."

Nice. Really really nice. Also? Charming and refined.

So I got all eye level with her and gave her sincere face and told her, "Oh, no, please don't say that. It's not nice."

"SHUT is not nice?"

"Well, um. SHUT UP is not nice. You can say 'shut' when you're saying something like 'shut the door.' That's fine."

So now she trots around and fixes people with her steely eye and says, "SHUT..." sly look in my direction, "...the DOOR."

I am so in over my head here.

Happy birthday, Max.

This morning, after months - nay, YEARS - of agonized waiting, Max turned 13. How do I explain this boy teen? Well, here's an example: the two things he was most excited about this morning were finally, finally, FINALLY being able to get his own Facebook page, and being old enough to volunteer at Children's Hospital.

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Another example of the Max-ness of Max? He likes to wear sunglasses that prevent you from seeing his eyes. Because, as he says, "If you can't see my eyes, you don't know what I'm doing. I could be naked for all you know."

He cracks me up, this social media-ing, philanthropic, possibly naked 13 year old boy of mine.

Oh, one more thing about Max.

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He is very, very cool.

Happy birthday, Max. Go put some clothes on.

Where I've been

I'm sorry to disappear like that. I get annoyed with bloggers who just drop the narrative like that, and I really try not to do that. Much. Any more.

What happened was that we went away for a vacation. Two weeks with Clay's side of the family, in Washington state, but just barely, because they live on an island in the Columbia River. We love to go there, all of us. Tre calls it one of his homes away from home. The whole family was there, so at one point there were 23 of us, gathered around the matriarch Connie and all, it seemed, talking at once.

When I'm there it feels a little like being dropped into a bubble - surrounded by the people and sights of this, our extra home, with the people who populate this family that has become so much of me. Everything is different, even the cool, damp air and the bright green everywhere. I thought about blogging a couple of times, but I was there, in my bright green bubble, and there I stayed. I didn't even read Mir's blog, and you know if I didn't read Mir, I didn't read anything.

So I am sorry, and I will try, quickly, to catch you up on what has happened over the past few weeks.

Sophia discovered watercolors - and by that I mean she literally discovered a set of watercolors in a cupboard in the basement, and toted them over to me, full of chirpy exclamations of excitement. I set her up with paper and water and some basic instructions, and she proceeded to fill page upon page with enthusiastic swirls of color, one of which she insisted was, "an elephant! A big, HUGE ELEPHANT."

Sophia has also discovered adjectives.

My dad and I drove down to New Mexico to pick up Tre from camp. This year he was a counselor in training, and it was startling to see children run up to him with stars in their eyes, thrilled to introduce him to their parents. He had so fully stepped into the role of mentor, speaking seriously about the counselor's duty to make the camp experience happen for "the kids" that for a while I felt a little shy around him.

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The next day he turned 16. I would love to tell you all the reasons why, but suffice to say I am grateful to know him, and gobsmacked to be his mom.

That same day of his birthday, we all got on the plane for Washington. I've already tried to tell you about that a little, but I really don't know how to do it justice.

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There was room to run. Even enough room for Sophia, who ran and ran and ran.

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And green everywhere. Max, there, wore those sunglasses until his new glasses arrived in the mail. He looked very cool, but when he put his new glasses on, he heaved a huge sigh of relief. Seeing is even better than cool. Even when you're Max.

A few days after we got there my grandmother died. It was not a surprise, and I left home knowing she would most likely not be there when I got back. I could not go home for the funeral - no. That's not true. I could have, but I didn't. I stayed. I wanted to come home to hold my mom's hand, but she told me to stay, and I did. All I did to remember my grandmother is to go for a run all alone, where I rounded a corner and surprised myself by bursting into tears and doubling over to gasp and cry. It was not enough, but I never could do enough for Grandma, and at least she is beyond needing any more.

Raphi ocean 
We spent a few days on the coast. There is nothing like the sight of your baby boy in the ocean to remind you how very big "big" really is.

Tre ocean 
And how small, precious, and oblivious of their own mortality children are.

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There was, finally, after all the business of summer, time to just be. And, especially for Raphi, time to be filthy.

Two weeks is a long vacation. So tell me where, exactly, the time went? There were conversations I still wanted to have. There are people I'm not ready to go back to missing. Jennie was there for one of the weeks, and I got to spend not nearly enough time memorizing the smell of Quentin's head. He is the sweetest, mellowest, happiest baby I've ever seen, and the lack of him around here feels like a physical ache.

Suddenly everyone was gone, and it was time for us to go home too. Dad met us at the airport, and Mom met us at our home, where she had prepared dinner for us. Vacation is only this good when there is so much home to come home to.

Last night, after Mom and Dad went home, I prepared a bedtime snack for a travel ravaged Sophia. She had been melting down with exhaustion and hunger, but calmed down and drank her warm milk and stole a slice of bread from Max's bedtime snack, which she ate plain. When she finished, she turned to me and pleaded, "I want to go to BED." I wiped the milk off her chin and then noticed something on the chair behind her. I lifted her onto one hip and reached out to swipe at the mark on the chair with the washrag in my hand. It was watercolor paint from her painting party a few weeks before.

Life moves pretty quickly from one moment to the next. Tomorrow Tre starts 10th grade. All I can do is hope I don't miss too much.

It's good to be home.