Summer Birthdays: 12 and 8

This little guy turned twelve at the end of June. 12. Twelve. So almost 13. Aaaaaaah! King is fully embracing his twelveness, punctuated with plenty of sarcastic "SO?"s and "WHATEVER!"s. He is also in that stage of discovering his own "coolness". He has his own ideas about what is "so awesome" and "so hilarious" and sometimes I get it, but often I don't. But I'm the mom, I'm not supposed to get it. There is a lot more time spent up in his room, alone (as much as you can be alone sharing a room with your little brother), doing his own thing. I find this both endearing and terrifying at the same time.

This little guy turned eight last week. Of course, being eight and all, Michael now knows everything. This makes life with him very interesting, as well as informative. He is growing up so fast, but still has plenty of little boy left in him. Some of that we could do without, like the whining. When will the whining end? Probably when I stop giving in to him to shut him up. (Busted!)

My babies are getting so old! It scares me. Not that I'm afraid of what they are going to do, or the trouble they might get in to, because they're good kids. But when I think about them growing up (and about King being almost grown up), I get this panicked feeling. Did I do everything I was supposed to do? Did I say everything I needed to say? Because soon, if not already, they're gonna stop caring what I do and say. My window of influence is closing and I'm afraid I haven't shoved everything through before it comes slamming shut on my fingers.

Of course, this is not the way it works. Raising kids is a process and a life. It's not like feeding data into a computer. Is anyone's childhood ever perfect? I think back on mine, and truly believe that the challenges I faced were as much a part of building my character as the intentional "good" parenting of my mom and dad. Challenges make us stronger and working through them helps us grow.

Besides, a panicked mother is not a good mother. It is not helpful to sit and think about the mistakes I may have made. I must go forward and do the very best I can today and then get up and do it again tomorrow. I thank God that I can start each day with prayer and grace; hope and courage. My life is not defined by my mistakes. I don't need to face the monumental responsibility of raising boys to be men on my own. All is not lost if I didn't do everything right or say everything right.

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,

Deuteronomy 7:9 (ESV)

What's a Big Brother For?


After drawing this picture, Mike pointed to it and said, "Fly."

Oh, what a moment! His first drawing that actually was something. Whether it was intended to be a fly, or it just ended up looking like a fly, it didn't matter to me. I was "ooooh-ing" and "aaah-ing" over what a talented artist he was, already planning how I was going to frame it and hang it with a little plaque reading: "Fly" by Michael Curtis (2005). Crayon on paper.

King, hearing all the gushing, came over to see what his dear brother could have possibly done to deserve such praise. He looked at the picture, and with excitement equal to mine said, "Oh, Michael, what a good job!"

The moment just kept getting more and more beautiful. Mother and big brother sharing their glowing pride in little baby brother's first attempts at artistic self-expression.

"It's a fly," I said.

"No, it's not," King stated. " This is what he was going to draw next."

He proceeded to "complete" the picture as follows:

"It's a flower... in a vase."

"Oh."

The moment was gone, as quickly as it came.

First Day

King started kindergarten this week. I was so worried about how he was going to handle it, but, as usual, it turned out that  I was the only stresser and stressor in the whole situation. He is so excited and absolutely energized by school I can hardly believe it.

The back-to-school preparations began ominously enough, though. Starting with: THE UNIFORM. King is attending a private school which requires him to wear khaki shorts/pants, a white or blue polo shirt, and white sneakers. The pleated shorts are a little gooberish, but other than that it's not too bad. But King hated it. Now, to truly understand King's dislike of the uniform, I have to explain his preoccupation with "soft pants". At some point he got the idea that any fabric other than fleece, flannel and a few select synthetic materials most often found in athletic shorts, was just too harsh for his delicate ass. I am partly, if not mostly, at fault here for not nipping the "soft pant" thing in the bud and forcing him, by threat of never seeing another treat again until he was 18, to wear whatever pants were available, be they hard or soft. Alas, I slacked and gave him a steady supply of soft pants to feed his habit. Needless to say, the uniform shorts/pants are "hard". As if that weren't torture enough, I told him he was going to have to wear a belt, which sent him right over the edge. It was midsummer and he was already writhing around on the floor  in his dorky-cute uniform, crying about how he didn't want to go to school. Oh, dear.

Then there was the shoe issue. Although kindergarteners can choose their own footwear, they are bound by the requirement that they be white. As I like to say: no ethnic shoes allowed. When his new pair of mighty-whities arrived, he took one look at them and proclaimed that they hurt his feet, without even so much as sticking a toe in them. What an amazing prognosticator? Perhaps, but it would only be by pure coincidence. He was actually making a not too  subtle threat to turn the morning of the first day of school into a living hell.

The morning of the first day arrived and... smooth sailing. He put on his uniform without a complaint and put his shoes on with nary a wince. It was really all Curtis and I could do not to cash in on this "I told you so" moment with a sly comment like, "hey, those shoes really hurtin' ya, huh?" But we stayed on the high road (this time) and bit our tongues. King, who usually maintains a "cool... whatever..." facade, could not contain his excitement. And when he got home on that first day, he actually did a little dance, he was so happy. Normally, when I ask him about what he did on a particular day I'll get this droning answer: "play, play, play, play, eat, play, play, play..." and he'll keep going until I order him to stop. But when he gets home from school now, he tells me all about his day, with real details, and I don't even have to ask. Amazing. I know much of this will probably wear off and he'll return to his "too cool for school" ways, but what a great place to start.