Deciding to do something he's always wanted to do all by himself. That's it. And this spring that thing--at least for Carter--is learning how to ride a bike.
Now, I know many of you sisters out there have kids who've been bike riding since they were four. And there are some of you out there (cough cough Kristen) who have two year olds who can bike that trike forwards and backwards, downstairs and across the yard in the blink of an eye. But I swear all of your early bird bike riders have nothing on the bliss of a very scared seven year old who finally decided he had the courage to try to learn to ride his bike, practically by himself, one bright Saturday morning.
For the last couple years Carter has been happy to stand on the sidelines while the neighborhood kids tackled various childhood tasks with happiness and abandon. All the coaxing in the world couldn't convince Carter it was worth the risk to try anything new--an after school club, a green bean, a swimming class. And don't even think about insisting or laying down the law. If there was ever a kid to come completely unglued in the face of parental pressure, it's Carter.
But almost overnight it seemed, something changed. Maybe it was being seven and a half--those half year marks always seem to note big changes in both my kids--but Carter started talking about being sad that he was always missing out. He wanted to do stuff. He didn't want to be afraid anymore.
I spent more than a few crazy nights with Carter on my little kid-sized therapy couch, trying to help him get his confidence up, listening for signs that he was ready to take the leap.
Then one night at bedtime he announced he had two goals. One, learn how to ride his bike. And two, learn how to swim. After a few tentative tries, he was figuring out how to balance. Within a week he was flying across the parking lot. I've never seen him happier. Now with this new skill under his belt, he's warming up to what it will take to learn how to swim--actual swim lessons--though he reports the thought is still horrifying.
I'm still not sure if I did the right thing to let Carter decide it was time--at almost eight--to learn how to ride his bike, but this one thing is certain: there's a particular happiness that comes with deciding it's time to do something on your own, without any pressure, without anyone else deciding how you should learn and when. Carter may be a little bit late to the bike riding scene, at least for this neighborhood, but his joy in choosing his own timing is all his own and something about that is making us both very, very happy.
Read more about what to expect from your seven year old.
I have a nasty case of mastitis which pretty much feels like the worst flu. This means while the boys are at school, Lucy has been playing LOTS of this and watching even more. The house is spiraling down into a mess, the dog hasn't been walked, we are in survival mode.
So I'll leave you with Heather's advice on what to do when mom is sick...if only I had a nanny or my mom close by.
Jack had been asking me to go to "The Haircut Place" for weeks. That would be the "Salon" to everyone else, to Lucy, it is "The Haircut Store". I had been avoiding this because it is an errand I particularly hate. It's hard to predict if it will be awesome or disastrous.
Lucy hopped up on the chair and told the stylist exactly what she wanted. The stylist was trying to talk the three year old out of a bob, too short she said. I felt certain these two could come to an agreement so I moved on to Jack. I told her just a trim because he has such beautiul curls and showed her with my finger how much we were thinking. She smiled and I asked if it would be okay for me to run next door to get a drink. Lucy's stylist shushed me out the door and assured me all was fine.
I returned ten minutes later to find EVERY curl had been cut off of Jack's head. Every. last. curl. Part of my mother heart died in that moment. "It's just hair, it's just hair...." I said on repeat in my head. The worst part was she was STILL cutting. I literally walked over and very cheerfully said I thought it was fine and we probably were good. I wanted to cry. She shrugged and said she just wanted to make sure it was even.
Jack jumped out of the chair and looked at me. I was speechless. Josiah saved the day.
"Jack, you look like a college student!" he said. "Awesome!" Jack said. He did look like a college student, the one that passed out before everyone else, if you know what I mean.
I finally came up with, "Do you feel older buddy?" I said. He smiled and was already climbing in the car. It was a total hack job. Not even a good haircut by regular standards. In some weird way, I think it was good. Haircuts invite you to a new stage in life, a new identity. Jack is happy and I'm just praying his curls return. After all, it's just hair, it's just hair.
Tell me your worst haircut stories friends! I know you got 'em! Spill it in the comments.
Considering adoption? Check in with our experts as you explore concerns and possibilities for adding a new person to your family. You'll be relieved to discover what's a normal and expected part of the process.
Looking for blogs to inspire you on your search for your new family member? Boho Girl chronicles her journey from infertility to despair to peace to a new possibility--an open adoption with a loving birth mother. You'll be inspired by this honest, no holds barred approach to a very important decision. Check out each chapter of the journey on the sidebar to the left.
What if your adoption dreams include a trek to a faraway land? Check in with Owlhaven, an openhearted mama with a houseful of children who came to her from across the ocean. You'll love her stories and insight about how to make a family from a longheld dream, especially when finances are a primary issue.
Favorite adoption blogs or resources? Let us know in the comments below.
art by jenlemen
The news isn't horribly grim. It just isn't great. Nathan's lazy eye seems to get be getting slightly worse and the eye doctor wants him to wear a patch on it. Not a pirate patch but an adhesive bandage that seals off the light.
You are thinking, "play the pirate game!! Argh!!"
No dice. He doesn't care if pirates wear eye patches and are cool. He doesn't want to wear the eye patch.
We told him that it was special and just for him. It was something even his brother Ethan didn't have. You know, playing on that middle child syndrome. He didn't care. He doesn't want to wear the eye patch.
The doctor says so? Who cares?
I'm the mom and I am telling you to wear it? Nope.
Any child who will go out in public looking like this is certainly not going to give his mother's demands a second thought.
I bow to you, great Internet. The story on the street is that if this doesn't get fixed, he could actually go blind in that eye. No one wants to be the mom who made her kid go blind. Tell me what solutions you have to offer to get him to wear the patch for one hour a day, three days a week.
Help me please.
Isn't he cute? You would hardly know that this is the face of a child that just may drive his mother over the edge.
I've been working on watching the kids more closely. That means if anyone is in a mood, they have to follow me everywhere. That everywhere includes the bathroom. I miss going to the bathroom on my own but at least I know you aren't climbing up on a chair, removing the lock from the door and getting into the chemicals. You know, spraying bleach cleaner on the dirty laundry.
I let down my guard on Friday. Not really. I just needed to change my clothes. As I pulled my shirt over my head, I heard a loud shatter. Oh, no. Not the window. I waited a second and I didn't hear anyone screaming. I continued to change my clothes. The damage was done. You can't un-break the window now.
I went downstairs and looked out the now-broken window. On the other side was Nathan wielding a broom. He seemed disinterested in the shattered double paned window that provides a lovely view from the dining room to the back porch. I began to yell at him through the window and I promptly put him in timeout.
He didn't really care. I found Ethan hiding under a table in the other room. It's nice to see that someone fears my wrath. As far as the middle child goes, I guess my only recourse is to lock up all the brooms.
Now none of us are afraid of climbing that stepladder that will help you gingerly climb onto the table that will let you peek over the edge of this incredible nest. Everyday we take turns visiting our very own newborn nursery to see the latest arrivals.
Look, Mom, they don't even have very many feathers yet! They look so helpless and tiny!
I tell them that all brand new things--birds and babies especially--need so much care when they're new.
That's why we never wanted to put you down when you were first born. You seemed so fragile and frail.
We nod to each other as the next child waits for a turn to climb the ladder, then stand on the table. At this rate, we could probably charge admission, once the neighborhood kids find out.
I watch the whole scene and note how silently both kids take turns watching. No one touches, no one speaks, except to murmur praise and compassion. We are getting a chance to admire the beginning, when the simplest things take so much effort, when every day carries with it so many little changes and so much hope.
A Mother's Day conversation:
Me: Hey Jack, I'm going to pick strawberries, do you want to come?
Jack: Sure! I'd love to come.
M: Okay, but if you come you have to be kind to Lucy, no fighting, you have to get along. Can you do that?
J: Hmmm, Oooo, I don't know if I can do that, she makes me really angry sometimes. No, I don't think I'm gonna go.
M: No problem, I totally understand.
Five minutes go by. Jack comes down the stairs.
J: Mom! I really want to be with you on Mother's Day so I change my mind. I think I can do it.
Me: Sounds great Jackie-boy! Go get your shoes on.
I laughed to myself at the ease of the honesty in our exchange and the lack of judgement surrounding it. We had a glorious time picking together, one of our best. Jack and Lucy got along swimmingly. Wouldn't it be nice if we could all be free to admit our own limitations and have the space to change our minds and try? Oh, to be a kid again.
It's a super secret comment section today. Well, not really but let's pretend. Tell us what you are really thinking and what thing do you wish you could skip out of?
This weekend Derek took the boys down to the National Mall. I went to a book signing not far away with Mason and we all met up around 7:30.
K: How did it go?
D: Great. Good. Okay, we had our moments.
K: Oh no.
D: The leagues were out playing all over the mall and the boys couldn't understand why they were not allowed to just jump right in and play.
K: The leagues full of adults.
K: Not a kid in sight?
K: They didn't notice that there were no kids?
D: Uh, nope.
K: And they still wanted to play.
D: No, they thought they were entitled to play.
K: Oh no. So our discussion on the importance of including everyone and taking turns backfired.
D: Uh, yep.
K: What did you tell them?
D: That it was a game for adults.
K: That didn't go over well, did it?
D: No, it did not. It's not really a game just for adults. Ethan reminded me of that.
Kid has a memory like an elephant. You can't get anything over on him.
On a lighter note, apparently Mason had no problem about being excluded from the game.
Supersisters, here's hoping your Mother's Day is more than magical. Consider this comment section your place to put your hopes for the big day, and remember--choosing to really appreciate and acknowledge all the ways you've done the best you could is the best gift of all.
photo by Tracey Clark