Here’s a potpourri of changes that are underway this month…
1. We’re beginning to find our groove again, and while I know these things can be cyclical, I’m grateful for the closeness anyway. We’ve been bonding over the Wii, playing loud, epic games of Go Vacation at a level of clamorousness only achieved when mom is out of the house. Your guard was so down with me the other night while mom was away teaching, you actually slipped and swore at one of digital the kayakers at the Mountain Resort. “Prettybitch!” was the moniker you gave her. I only laughed a little on the outside, but I was dying inside.
2. Elli is out-out of your group of friends, probably for good. Sort of. It’s not an insignificant fact that your new best friend, Maya, truly hates Elli. But Elli has a knack for rudeness and pushing people away out of the misplaced expression of her desire to be included. I worry about her a lot, and hope she finds a crowd that accepts her. For now, I see your empathy for her dwindling by the day. Your frustration with her is being replaced by apathy and enmity. It’s really feeling over, but you haven’t fully admitted it yet. You only ever complain about her, but when I ask if you’re still friends, you say something like “sort of…I guess so.” This can’t go anywhere but bad.
3. This was your first Halloween trick-or-treating without us. You and Maya, Annika and some other friends were completely off on your own this year, while Nanna, mom and I stayed home to hand out candy, which with the dogs going nuts is easily a three-person job. You had managed (not very subtly) to deflect Elli’s repeated requests to go trick-or-treating with you, but Elli still found you all tonight and crashed your evening. You and all your friends were most displeased.
Nana’s always wanted to visit on Halloween but when she finally got here, you were on your own, although she did get to help you with your makeup. This year you were a made-up, ghoully thing. You were unrecognizable and kinda scary looking. It was awesome. What I appreciated most about your get up was how clear you were on your vision. You knew exactly what you wanted to do and you executed it really well. Classic Ari.
My little young lady.
Noelle had warned us that there would be a sudden shift in your personality and maturity when you started sixth grade, and wow was she right. First of all, you love middle school. You mostly tolerate/kinda-maybe-on-a-good-day-like your classes, but so far you’re having a great time being a sixth grader. You walk to school with a gaggle of girls, LOVE the school lunches (Thank you Michelle Obama), and no longer seem sad or depressed. We’re fighting less as a family. You’re hyperbole has gotten particularly hyperbolic, which is hilarious. You’re funnier, easier, still struggling with chores, but wow. I can’t get over the sudden difference. We’ll see whether it lasts.
Ellie was pretty cool on your first day and you were surprised. The two of you had grown apart during the end of 5th grade and barely saw each other all summer (if at all…I can’t remember,) so the fact that she was suddenly “in” again was a surprise. But alas, her behavior changed back to difficult on day 2, and it seems she’s becoming more of a frenemy. You had turned your focus to your new best friend/old friend Maya over the summer, so you’re fine letting this friendship go. But since you all walk to school together every day and Ellie has no other friends, I do worry about where this is headed. You came home the other day and announced that “Ellie is out of the group,” because she let you all buy her things at Starbucks for a few days but then refused to pay when it was her turn.
Oh, Starbucks is huge right now. And the Dollar Store.
I’m a little on edge letting you walk all over Evanston, and it is really taking some getting used to, but you LOVE the freedom and that’s something I’m super happy to see. I was getting worried about you this past summer. I think next summer we may need to go to some extraordinary measures to make sure you don’t get stuck in the house too much with your parents. ‘Cause you’re getting to an age where that’s not doing you any favors.
It’s going to be a weird year, in no small part because I still have this abdominal drain in me from my intestinal tear/abscess/appendix thing and that has definitely impacted our ability to make effective birthday plans.
Last night we took you out for hibachi. A man squirted sake into my mouth and we ate like Japanese royalty in front of a hot grill. This was your idea, and I LIKED IT.
We’ll have another family-only party and then later, probably in late April or May, you’ll have a friends party at Sky High which will include a silly string fight and frozen yogurt. [Update: we had to change it to early June because you got an ear infection on the day of your party!]
With the exception of one cranky afternoon with Mom, you’ve been pretty cool about the impact on your birthday. Of course.
It was our first Christmas in a long time where we didn’t have to leave the house. We didn’t drive to visit papa (at his home or at the hospital like two years ago.) We woke, we did stockings, we ate, we did gifts…mom and I quibbled over whether all gifts should be passed out before we open them, or whether we should pass, open, pass, open. We agreed to a compromise. You were Switzerland, although you made it clear you kinda agreed with me.
You got Legos out the wazoo and you loved it. Mom and I began secretly texting each other about when we should reveal your big present, which was hiding behind the TV. Being a fan of theatrics, I thought it should come LATE, like way after all the fun had died down in the late afternoon. Mom thought early, before you got too wrapped up in Lego madness. Again, we compromised.
In the late morning we pulled the whole “what’s that behind the TV” trick. You were really excited–even for you–and gave mom a big hug. Then me. When I complained.
Later that day we left for Chinese food, waited way too long for a table and then the food was only so-so. We decided we’d never eat there again. I partly wrote this down in the hopes that I’d remember.
This was Christmas 2016. Your first Christmas without Simon. Our first Christmas with Bella. Our second Christmas where we ate at that same disappointing Chinese food place. And the day you got your first cellphone.
You told me you had a GREAT Christmas. Mission accomplished.
Elli got her ears pierced recently, and has been trending ever-so-slightly mainstream in her gendered ways. It’s got you thinking, and pushing some boundaries you had set fr yourself. And after telling us only a few days ago that you wanted to this, got your ears pierced TODAY. I was totally surprised. And even more so than with the whole bra thing, life is like ALL about earrings right now, dude.
Your mom gets pretty frustrated with people. And I know I communicate in subtle and unsubtle ways that I find the world a pretty lost place full of befuddling, selfish and self-destructive weirdos. (The very fact that I’m such a loner speaks volumes to you, I’m sure.)
So I probably shouldn’t have found last night Continue reading
Yesterday you turned 10. As you requested…
1. a parent was in the room with you when you woke up (Mom beat me to it)
2. you ate a chocolate croissant for breakfast, and
3. Zoe and Simon gave you a present (which I wrapped. Sorry! The truth is out! We bought it!)
But something else happened today that you didn’t request. Continue reading