Well, would you look at who’s almost done being eight?
This morning I found a container of frozen pork and onions that I put away when I was pregnant with you. The inside was a freezer-burned mess, and I’m pretty sure from the struggles I’ve had finding lids to fit containers, that particular line of plastic food holder has been discontinued. The date was clearly written in Sharpie, though: 12/17/07, almost exactly nine years ago, almost exactly nine years and one month since you joined us and changed everything. I’ll wait till next month to get nostalgic about your lifetime with your dad and me, the evolutions and revolutions that have formed our family. For now, let’s think about what you’ve been doing this month.
Photo by Gary Clarke
We had our Family Folk Machine fall concerts, and you did your usual bang-up job. I was thinking about how when we first started, you wouldn’t stand with the other kids and would only participate if you were pressed directly against my body. You’re a confident member now, singing solos and hanging out with your friends during kids’ break time. Your class had a presidential race, and it was optional to run. Running meant giving two speeches to your class. You said you were definitely going to run. I told you that no matter what the outcome, I was very proud that you were willing to take a risk and be brave. You said that giving a speech was no big deal. I credit Family Folk Machine with helping you gain that confidence before a crowd.
Last week, you ran to me at pickup time and announced, thrilled, that you were class vice president. Fourteen of your classmates ran for president, and you got second-to-the-most number of votes (I guess they don’t use the electoral college at Lucas Elementary, or you would have been president). You agreed that your classmate Oumou will make a good president, and you’re looking forward to helping her and taking over her job should she be absent. Your campaign slogan was “Crall: He’s no baby.” You explained that it’s a pun, like you don’t have to crawl like a baby. I’m not sure your classmates all got it, since one of them came up to me after school and told me your slogan was “Carl: He’s no baby.” In any case, enough of them appreciated you to get you a job. Way to go, little Joe Biden.
We had a nice Thanksgiving break filled with the usual travel, family, and food. You ate a lot of corn. It’s a good thing you’re an Iowan, because there’s always corn available around here. Food remains a challenging issue for you. You are very reluctant to try anything new, even if there’s ample evidence that it’s good. Pizza, for example. Everybody likes pizza, right? You agreed to try a piece of Tobin’s favorite kind if we took off the pepperoni, and you were a pretty good sport about it. You said you liked the cheese and sauce but not the crust. It’s true that you don’t like bread or bread products (not counting pasta, which will save us on some future trip to Italy). You manage to get enough calories to survive, though sometimes I wonder how. Honey Nut Cheerios make up a good percentage of your diet. I manage to shove fruit into you every day, always apple slices with lunch and almost always some other fruit at dinner.
In other areas, you’re very open to exploration. You took a 3D printing class after school this fall, and you made a really cool Pokeball. You know what that is, though I don’t. Pokémon Go is another obsession, and you and you dad and Tobin spend a lot of time and energy (including all the physical walking you have to do to reach certain goals) on that game. You also stretched your boundaries in your most recent round of swim lessons. Last night you passed the test required to dive into the deep end: swimming the whole length of the pool using the forward crawl (Crall). You even did a dive off the side. You said you belly flopped your first couple of tries, but then you got it done. I’m pretty happy about that. Confidence in the water is a huge factor in experiencing so many joys in life. We’re going to be snorkel buddies for sure.
You now have just a week and a half left of school before winter break. I haven’t figured out what all we’re going to do to fill our days, but it will be easier than last year since Callum’s a little bigger. We’ll probably rent some movies and make some popcorn—our garden harvest is surely ready to pop. I’ll try to find time to wrap Christmas presents without you seeing. We’ll probably go to Costco and buy giant vats of laundry detergent and olive oil and paper towels and eat lunch in their little food court. Maybe we’ll go to the library and meet your dad downtown after work to take advantage of the students’ absence. I want to try the new Zombie Burger. They have fries. You’ll like it.
Your hair is getting a little outrageous again, but the low humidity of winter air is making it slightly less enormous than it was before your last haircut. You’re wearing a hat in our family holiday card picture, so the world will never know (unless you have to do any class executive branch publicity photos).
Your current favorites: Prodigy math games, which you play online against your school friends and help Tobin to play; Goosebumps books; Panda Express’s orange chicken; piano lessons; and Pokémon Go.
Eight’s been good to us, mostly. You’re a cool kid, and you’re learning and growing all the time. One of these years, you’ll eat my delicious Thai pork with mushrooms, peppers, and noodles.