Metamorphosis: A letter to my son

For 2017, I've joined a blog circle of women who will each write a monthly letter to their child(ren). Read mine, then click here to read Evangeline's letter, then follow the links on around--you'll eventually land back here. And if you'd like to receive my letters and blog posts directly to your email inbox, click here to join my mailing list. (I promise, I'm not going to spam you or share your info). 

Dear Aiden,

My sweet boy, as 2016 comes to a close and the promise of an unspoiled year shines before us, I can't help but reflect on how much you have changed in the past year. At 11, with 12 just a few days away, you have spent the year straddling the divide between childhood and adolescence. Some days, you are still the effervescent child you have always been, bubbling with enthusiasm about your latest topic of fascination. You will still sweetly request cuddles at bedtime, begging me to play with your hair or scratch your back while I sing old jazz classics or broadway songs. You don't sigh or pull away when I embrace you, and for a moment, I can still smell the sweet scent of the skin at the nape of your neck and remember the countless nights that I have repeated this ritual. 

Other days, adolescence dominates, and you turn mercurial and moody. You swing from bravado to anger to tears in a moment, and your father and I are breathless trying to keep up with your moves. Your wit and sarcasm have not yet been tempered by time and wisdom, so often you disrespect when you only meant to disarm with laughter. You shrug away my embrace, you deliberately sabotage my attempts at tender moment, and I am frustrated at feeling as if my little boy is slipping farther away. 

These shifts that accompany the raging hormones (and your rapidly growing frame) have left your father and I off-balance. There are days when we feel as if a stranger has moved into our home, and yet in a moments' notice, the sweet boy we recognize can come bounding back again. Dad and I are trying our best to keep up. We are breathing deeply and stretching our patience as far as we can, and yet so often, we find ourselves speaking harshly or reacting with anger. It is incredibly unsettling, to have reached this point in our parenting journey--having accumulated quite a bit of wisdom along the way--and yet to suddenly find yourself as lost and clueless as a new parent again. 

But despite all of the changes that have swept through our home in the past year (a trans-Pacific move, new home, new schools, new friends, new routines, and new phases of life), one thing has never wavered. Not once. My love for you is constant. Despite the angry words we sometimes exchange, the exasperation with which I may speak, I have never once wavered in my love for you and my faith in your potential. I love you so much, Aiden, and no matter how large you may grow or how angry or moody you may act, my love will stretch and grow and shift to accommodate you. And although some days I may fail, I will try my best to give you the space you need to grow. To not suffocate you with my memories and expectations, but allow you to stretch into your full God-given potential. 

This time in your life is so incredibly difficult for all of us--but so very important. And I feel so privileged to stand witness to your transformation. 

Love, always,


A walk along the shore

For all of its flaws and hassles, there is one aspect of living in Hawaii that I cannot deny is fabulous: being in such close proximity to so many lovely beaches. There are perfectly manicured resort beaches; wide-open beaches with an endless, wide swath of sand; wild beaches with rocky shorelines and coral bottoms, perfect for exploring with a snorkel; tiny alcoves of sand tucked back into the cliffs, where the water gently laps the shore; and steep shorelines with massive waves crashing against the sand. I recently decided to swing by a beach just a few minutes from our home. Nimitz Beach will never make the tourist guide: it is a bit rocky, there are abandoned WWII pillboxes littering the shore, and the surf break is lousy, but it is quiet and still and lovely. Generally, I have this beach to myself, occasionally running into a lone fisherman or a photographer with a family clad in matching outfits. On this day, I wasn't wanting to swim--I just wanted to walk the shore, enjoying the sound of the surf crashing against the beach, and take in the sights and textures.

A Look Inside: Adventures in Homeschooling

Last Thursday, a box arrived in our mailbox. Aubrey, who had tagged along with me to the mailbox, was visibly excited when she discovered keys to a package bin in our mail slot. "Mom! A package!! I wonder what it is?!" she exclaimed, bouncing with excitement as she poked the key into the lock and turned. I slid the box from the package bin. "Well, what is it??" she asked excitedly. "Dead frogs," I deadpanned.

[awkward silence]


Aubrey was less-than-thrilled to receive such an odd package in the mail. I explained that we were going to dissect the frogs as part of our science lesson and she perked up a bit. She ran inside, yelling "Aiden! We're going to dissect frogs tomorrow!" I plopped the box on the counter and began sorting through the remainder of the mail, but soon found Aubrey at my elbow.

"Mom, Aiden said we're going to cut up frogs and look inside them, but I told him that was gross and we would never do that. But he says I'm wrong. Are we going to cut up frogs?" she asked me, certain her brother was wrong.

"Well, actually...we are going to dissect frogs. Dissect is a fancy term, but it means were going to cut open a frog and look at all of its organs and parts inside to learn about it. But the frogs are already dead, and all the blood has been taken out of them and they have been preserved in chemicals, so it isn't gross or yucky. It's just a way of learning about what living things look like on the inside." I tried to hide my amusement as looks of incredulity, disgust, and finally curiosity passed across her face.

The following day, after concluding our lessons for the day, I spread butcher paper across the dining room table, brought out the dissection instruments, and gathered the kids around an empty tray. I ceremoniously plopped the cold and chemical-smelling frog onto the tray, and after donning gloves, we began to explore the external parts of the frog. My thinking was to ease the kids into the experience before jumping into the dissection, but they were antsy to wield the scalpel, so soon we were opening our dissection text and digging in. The kids took turns with the instruments, and were intrigued at first, but soon their curiosity turned to boredom, and after a thorough discussion of the internal anatomy, I turned the frog and instruments over to them to explore. Parts were disassembled. A leg was removed.  It was quickly discovered that eyes were full of liquid that would squirt out when poked with the pins. The frog's tongue was stretched to its full length to see how it could capture bugs. The frog's lower intestines were opened to see its almost-poop. It wasn't a very precise dissection, but the children were fascinated and learning by observation, and their excitement and curiosity was contagious.

An afternoon of 'Roominating'

Last Christmas, in our quest for sophisticated toys that stimulate imagination, we bought Aubrey a Roominate building set. The Roominate sets consist of interlocking plastic pieces that are designed to be open-ended, allowing the child's imagination to take center-stage, as well several simple circuits and various electrical components that can be used to create all sorts of fun things (ceiling fans, a working washing machine, windmills, a circular saw, and more). Although the toys are marketed to girls, they don't play to gender stereotypes and allow a girl to harness her brain while engaging in imaginative play.

Aubrey loved her Roominate out of the gate, but then it moved its way to the back of the toy lineup, where it languished in a bin for about 6 months. Last week, however, Aubrey pulled it back out again and has enjoyed building a house for her Littlest Pet Shop puppies, complete with light and ceiling fan.  She played for hours and was so proud of her final result. I was just happy she sat in a lovely pocket of light in her room to build--what can I say, I'm a photographer through-and-through.

Wet and wild summer days

Days of flash flooding have prevented us from enjoying the beach or the waterpark, but it hasn't stopped the kids from making their own wet fun in the front yard. Puddle jumping and scooter splashing have kept them busy and content these past few days.