We have a ritual each morning: we check TimeHop, which, for those who don’t know or Future Us who have forgotten about popular apps from the two-thousand-teens, is a tool that shows social media posts from a given day for years in the past. That is, today we looked at posts I made on April 7, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. You really enjoy doing this with me each morning at breakfast, because there’s almost always a cute picture of you and/or your brothers or funny things someone said. Every now and then I even have a good quip. This morning, you got a kick out of what I wrote eight years ago: “Miles just handed me The Collected Works of Eudora Welty as if I ought to read it to him.”
Seven years ago today, I wrote, “Getting ready to do an Elluminate session, then off to Willowwind for a pre-preschool visit.” Elluminate is a video conference technology that I haven’t thought about in approximately seven years. Visiting Willowwind to see if it was a good choice for you, however, seems so recent. It was a disastrous visit, as I recall. For some reason, you were in a brief but painful stage of being absolutely freaked out by anyone who wasn’t close family. I think you brought your beloved nanny Beanie to tears because you suddenly turned on her. When we visited Willowwind, you cried the whole time and refused to let go of my leg.
Photo by Denny
Fortunately, that stage passed quickly. You and Beanie became great friends again (in fact, even these days you text regularly), and once you were in a better frame of mind, you liked Willowwind a lot. This particular TimeHop memory stood out to me because you’ve been doing so many new things lately, and you’ve grown so much in the last seven years. You’re still shy and nervous sometimes, but more and more I’m seeing you be brave and take risks.
One of these new adventures was the songwriting workshop we did in Family Folk Machine. During one of the first workshops, we were to divide into groups. You were sitting next to me, so it was natural that we’d be in a group together. In that group activity, we brainstormed ideas borne of the story circles we’d done at a previous meeting. We wrote down our ideas, and the facilitators grouped them into like categories. From those categories, we were to pick the topic that most resonated with us, and that would be the group we’d be in to write our songs. You chose the Nature group, and I was more interested in Peace and Protest. I made sure it was okay with you that we be in separate groups, and you said it was. You ended up being the only kid in your group, and you wrote the lyrics to your very own song. You were so, so proud when we rehearsed it at choir practice, and I agree that there’s something magical about seeing your by-line on the printed score. It’s going to be a great moment when we sing it in concert later this month.
You also surprised me by sticking to your plan of going out for baseball. You developed a sudden interest in it last spring, but by the time you told me you wanted to play, the sign-up deadline had passed. I thought there was a good chance you’d lose interest or lose your bravery by the time this season came, especially since it would be your first time playing a team sport, when most of your teammates had surely played for years.
But no—sign-up time came around for this season, and you still wanted to play, so I registered you. You’ve only had two practices so far due to the rainy couple of weeks we’ve had, but your dad tells me you’re doing just fine. I’m so proud of you for striking out on your own (no pun intended) and trying something challenging. I’m excited to see you play in a game. I have been to many professional baseball games in my life (due to having been switched at birth with the sports-loving child my parents were supposed to bring home), and I have never once looked forward to the prospect. It’s amazing what having a kid can do to one’s perspective.
Photo by Gary Clarke
Yet another boundary-stretching activity for you was this year’s school carnival. I had already volunteered to work one of the games, so you asked if you could just go around with your friends instead of sticking with your dad or me. I gave you ten dollars’ worth of tickets and set you loose. We met up again toward the end of the night, when you and Tobin were both freaking out with delight about the fact that you won cakes in the cake walk. You won yours when you were with your friends, and Tobin won his with your dad. If I’d been there, I might have declined one of the cakes like I did last year when our family won two. You haven’t let me forget that, so you were mighty pleased that this year you guys were able to right past wrongs.
The carnival happened to fall on April Fool’s Day, so you and Tobin used some of your sugared-up post-carnival energy to play some pranks around the house. I don’t know if the fake dude at the computer is supposed to be you or if I was supposed to think an intruder had come in, put on your coat, and started checking his email.
We had a great trip to Nashville last month, and you and your brothers mostly kept it together. The bed situation in our rental house was a lot like ours here—bunk bed with a single on top and double below. At home, you always want the top bunk to yourself, but Tobin scrambles up to join you nine nights out of ten. In Nashville, the top mattress wasn’t very comfortable, so you slept on the larger bottom bunk with Tobin. Ever since we’ve been home, you’ve been doing your before-bed reading in the top bunk and then at lights-out time, you’ve been coming down and sleeping in the bottom bunk (except for the night Tobin was sick and you were afraid he’d barf on you).
I don’t know what changed, but you guys are pretty cute together. Sleeping children are so forgivable.
We’re not entirely without challenges. Sometimes you get huffy when your dad and I ask you to do even the easiest tasks around the house. Sometimes you’re too harsh with Tobin. You still won’t eat any vegetables.
You do a good job brushing your teeth, though. The dentist agrees.