Monday, November 1, 2010

My Little Groucho

Joseph just had a birthday.  He turned eight.  Seven to eight is a big year.  Babies turn into kids.  First grade to second grade there are so many changes.  It is fun to watch the evolution into a more independent child.  It is also a little bit heartbreaking when it is the last one.  No more little ones. 

Joseph has never been shy, but in kindergarten he was pretty quiet.  He had always travelled as a unit with his brothers, and while he had gone to preschool, this was his first real taste of independence.  By first grade I learned that he was a conscientious and hard-working student.   He is generally gregarious and a jokester, but at school, he got down to business.   I always have them do homework right after school, and if we have to go somewhere first, he feels a lot of stress if we can't do homework before we go. 

This year Joseph has evolved into his own little person even more.  He gets his work done, and is very businesslike, but he has more friends and he always gets the joke.  He finds the humor in everyday things.  The other day he was quiet in the car, and then he said, "You know what?  My friend at soccer always talks with his chin cocked to the side, but aiming straight ahead.  It's funny."  I know the boy, and he does!  My little observationist.

My kids are allowed to have a birthday party only every other year.  It gets too expensive and too exhausting to have three parties every year.  So this year was a party year.  The best gift he got was from my ipod touch.  I debated whether at 8 this was a good idea.  It was a good idea.  He has played more with that thing than I could have imagined.  He has downloaded the Beatles and Cake.  He takes pictures constantly.  He loves it.

He also has 14 games of Words with Friends (like Scrabble) going.    The other night when he went to bed, I got a notification on my iphone that it was my turn to play.  Did he not get it that I would know he was playing in bed?  It has been a great learning tool for spelling and for seeing words in relation to other words. 
He is obsessed, but he comes by it naturally.  I have almost as many games going myself.  Alas, I just got a notification...I must go play a word!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Man With a Plan

I was never one of those kids who had a life plan from an early age. I wanted to be a ballerina, a teacher, a horse trainer. I am none of those things. So I am totally fascinated by my middle child who has a very specific goal and a very specific plan.

Luke is going to be a Broadway Star. His first year at the Pensacola Children's Chorus planted the seed. He got to be Santa at the Christmas show, and that was all he needed. I knew he wasn't shy. The kid has never kept a thought to himself with me or a stranger. But I had no idea he would love performing. After that first show, I realized that he performs his life. I kind of knew that, but now I really see it (and at times it can be a bit annoying).

Sometime last year, Luke came to me and said the following. Keep in mind that Luke takes no breaths and talks really, really fast:

So, Mama, how long do you have to go to college to be on Broadway? (I say probably 4 years would be okay.) Okay, so I will go to college for 4 years, then I am going to get on Broadway, then I am going to win a Tony because I Googled it and they are really cool, and then I am going to win a Nobel Prize.

I asked what the Nobel Prize was going to be for and he was undecided. Good to leave your options open, I think.

Luke is also very athletic and stocky. He is good at soccer and was planning to play this year again. As I was questioning the boys about their activities for the year, Luke made an announcement:

I think I need to take a dance class instead of soccer. I think it would help further my Broadway career.

Well, okay then. He originally thought he would start with jazz, I think because he has used "jazz hands" in Chorus. I told him that most dance schools start you with ballet to get a good foundation, but that I would call the dance school. The dance school said ballet, and Luke said, "I'm fine with that."

An aside, Joseph upon hearing about the ballet thing commented to Luke out of the side of his mouth, "I bet you'll get to meet lots of hot girls!" Luke, to his credit, said, "I am not in it for the girls, I am in it for the dance."

So after teaching dance for 20 years, there I was sewing elastic on ballet shoes for my son. I never thought I would get to take a kid to dance class. He slept with his ballet shoes on the foot of his bed the night before his first class. And he loves it. He walked into that class, the only boy, and never had a second thought. The next thing I knew, he had auditioned for the Nutcracker.

I truly get a kick out of watching Luke perform his way through his life. I love that he is confident enough to do what he wants without a second thought. And he just may become a Broadway Star...

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Jake and Papa

We went to dinner one night for my brother's birthday. It was my brother Joe, my brother Jim and his family, my parents and me and the boys. Jake sat next to my dad. Jake said to him, "I think a pure democracy is better than a representative democracy." Dad asked why and he went on to say that then everyone would have a say...the majority would actually rule. Dad asked how he would do that...would he put a computer in every home so they could vote on every issue?

Jake said, I don't know, but it would be better for everyone to have a say. Dad asked him: Well, don't you think that the minorities should be protected? Jake: What do you mean? Dad: Well, what if everyone voted that you couldn't have free speech or that everyone had to be a Catholic or a Jew or a Christian? Don't you think we should have our Constitutional protections?

Jake: You really are a lawyer, aren't you? That was very persuasive.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Boys

This blog is devoted to my boys. I have three of them. Jake just turned 12. Luke will be 10 on Saturday. Joseph is 7, 8 in October. They are the funniest kids. All kids are funny, and all kids are every parent's joy. I am writing this because I want to have a way to record our life together. I am raising them by myself, and we are very close, closer I think because of that. We lived with my parents for a while after I got divorced. When we moved back out, I gave the whole "we are a team" speech, and they have really taken that speech to heart. I told them that I couldn't do everything myself and that they were responsible for helping maintain the house and get things done. They really contribute, each in their own little ways, and if there can be a blessing in a lost marriage, it is that we are our own little unit.

They are all so different that it makes for a fun family dynamic.

Jake is the quiet and reserved one. But his brain is never silent. The child is always thinking and comes out with the most off the wall observations and questions. He is an internalizer (from me) and is more sensitive than he appears. He has definite opinions and feels things deeply.

Luke has never met a stranger. He is gregarious and lives his life as though it is a performance. While he is always ready with a joke, he is very conscientious and gets things done. He wears his emotions on his sleeve, and expresses himself at will.

Joseph is my little one. He is brave and capable. He has had epilepsy since he was 2, but has been so lucky that it is well-controlled and does not affect his life. He is sly and funny and can do everything his brothers do. I learned this year that he was very interested in doing the right things and doing well in school. He didn't even want to be sick on Fridays, because it was test day.

The title of this blog comes from the period when they were probably 1, 3, and 5 and were obsessed with talking about death. Each one seems to have gotten stuck on the topic for about a year around age 4 and so we talked about death and dying for a good 3 or 4 years. They were discussing the topic of heaven and dying.

Jake said, "It will be okay if you die, Luke because you will be in a better place. "

Luke agreed, "Yeah, if you die, Jake, it will be okay because Heaven is Better than Florida."

Around this same time, my grandmother was in a facility for Alzheimer's and dementia patients. My mother had the residents out every year to her house for lunch. The boys had become friends with a man named Mr. Aldo. He was one of the few men in my grandmother's cottage, and he loved singing old Italian songs to the boys. We visited at least a couple of times each week, and we knew all of the residents well. We realized a one point that Mr. Aldo had cancer that wasn't being treated due to his age. His health quickly declined. His pain became apparent. That Halloween, I took the boys to visit dressed in their Halloween costumes. Mr. Aldo was bed-ridden and his breathing was labored. I knew that would be the boys last visit to see him. They were young and I didn't want them to be afraid.

When it came time for the lunch at my mother's house, Mr. Also had died. I hadn't told the boys, because there were a lot of people there and it was fairly chaotic. I hoped they wouldn't notice his absence. As they residents were loading back up on the bus, Jake asked where Mr. Aldo was.

My heart sank. I sat down and told him that Mr. Aldo had died. He had gone to heaven to live with God and he was not in pain anymore, he would always be happy, and young and healthy. I waited for Jake's reaction. He sat for a minute, and he said, "Yea for Mr. Aldo." If only we could all feel that way.

By the way, a few weeks later the dog died. I tried the same speech I gave about Mr. Aldo. It did not work at all...oh well...