Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Dan's solo adventure

Dan on Independence Day

Yesterday, I had to accept that our planned trip to the Live & Learn Conference '07 was just beyond our means. I cancelled our reservations and told the boys. They were somewhat disappointed, but took the news well enough. Andy was okay, since altho he'll miss a few friends, Sorscha isn't going either, so she'll still be in town that week.

When Jenny arrived at group, she told me she had a proposal for me. She and Beth had a plan, hatched after they read a post I made at the L&L yahoo group. Would we let Dan fly to NC with Kevin, stay at the conference with Jenny's family (they already had an extra bed) and fly back home with Kevin? Wow! So, throughout the next couple of hours, I talked to Andy to see if he'd be okay with Dan going while he stayed home (he is very okay with this), to Gary to see that he was okay with it (he's very happy for Dan) and finally with Dan. Both Jenny & Beth had said they wouldn't be at all surprised if Dan said no. I was pretty sure he'd say yes, because Dan is always up for an adventure, and he'd do just about anything to spend time with Scotty.

What most touches me isn't their generous offer, or the way it's come together -- it's that all this was proposed to meet the needs of a child! As Jenny pointed out, Dan really is Scotty's rock. We all knew that upon hearing Dan wouldn't be at the L&L Scotty would insist he didn't want to go. We all grew up in a time when a child's distress at making a family trip, for any reason --much less 'just' that he'd miss his best buddy -- would not even have been considered by the adults involved. Kids were just expected to suck it up and do what their parents told them to do. That we belong to a community, a tribe, whose adults have such empathy for our children that we'd all go to these lengths for one child's emotional comfort, is more precious to me than I can say.

So, we've begun making arrangements for Dan's first solo adventure. I cannot believe my baby is big enough for this rite of passage! He's my tiny man, my sweet puddin' -- how can he be big enough to be willing to fly to the conference without his parents?! Jenny shared that Beth had wondered if it was asking too much of me. Asking a Mom to let her 6yo child be gone for a week! Thousands of miles away! I laughed and answered that I've been letting 6yo boys go away on vacation since the first time I had a 6yo boy!

Then, I realized. This really is a rite of passage for Dan. Will was 6 the first time I drove away from him at summer camp. He stayed 2 weeks that summer -- and for every summer until he was 13. The year he was 13, he flew off to spend the summer with his grandparents in Hawaii; at 14, he flew as an adult (no airline escort) to BWI (by then we lived here in New Mexico), caught a ride with friends to a month of camp, then spent a week or two with his childhood best friend's family in Northern VA. Andy took his first trip without us to Hawaii at 5 -- grandpa flew here, took Andy home with him to spend 5 wks, and grandma flew home with him. He made the same trip at 6, and another, without either grandparent -- flying unaccompanied -- at 9.

So, it must be Dan's turn to have his first adventure away from Mom & Dad. Does this mean I'm now dispensable? Is it a first step, another beginning of the end of his dependence on me, on us? I suppose really, tho it's not even a beginning for Dan -- just another step in his independence.

Dan is clearly ready - the first thing he said to Gary when we picked him up from work was "I'm going to Conference!" I'm sure I'll be ready by the time he flies away.

More importantly, tho, this whole adventure is the evidence of how very deeply our children are loved in this tribe we belong to. Three sets of parents have come together to make it possible for two boys who are the best of friends -- in many ways two halves of a whole -- to have a summer adventure together, for the simple reason that we recognize their need for each other, and that our efforts will bring joy to those two little boys we all love.

Friday, July 06, 2007

What a happy bunch!

We spent a wonderful day at the Millers' on the 4th. The weather which had been insufferably hot for days, was cool, and breezy by late afternoon, with a light rain at nightfall. We'd come dressed for heat and by fireworks time were borrowing sweatshirts and wrapped in blankets!

I had tried a photobucket album here, but couldn't get it to work, so I had to load pix one by one.

Gary on the trampoline with Spencer, Cipriano & Sorscha. Dan, sporting his new hair color. I colored it for him the day before -- from the bleached stripes on brown to a licorice black. It takes some getting used to!
Late in the day, Chris set up Scotty's steam engine. Here's Scotty trying to light a match using the grindstone run by his steam engine.

The best thing about having a tribal gathering on a holiday is the abundance of Daddys. Pablo, Chris and & Gary were right there in the engine action.

Eliza and Pablo playing with toy animals.

Spencer, Andy & Dan watching a neighboring fireworks display from the back wall.

Dan, Eliza & Scotty enjoying the s'mores mini-pizzas Sorscha found for the party.

Scotty with sprinklers. We all brought some smaller backyard fireworks, and also watched some fireworks -- two city displays and some big works (not really city-legal, but might pretty) being fired off by neighbors out on the mesa.

Andy & Sorscha enjoying lunch on the trampoline.

Eliza used the fishtank an a brush to decorate the flagstone with paintings. Here she's putting the finishing touches on a car.

.... and on an elephant!
Jenny & Eliza

Gary & Dave spent some time fiddling with our computer -- which we brought over for Dave's help with loading World of Warcraft. We're still trying to find the drive space for WOW, but in the meantime our computer runs much faster after Dave's help.

We had a really wonderful day -- lots of conversation, happy kids running around, great weather, fireworks, and great time spent with friends. Everyone brought something for the grill, giving us more food than we could eat -- at the end of the night I discovered the corn on the cob I'd brought at Jenny's suggestion. I'd completely forgotten to throw it on the grill --sorry Jen! It's been delicious over the past few days!
Thanks, Crystal & Dave & Sorscha, for hosting us all!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Two such happy boys

Yesterday, we packed up a picnic, and headed out to our favorite park, with all manner of wheels. Andy spent about two hours on his roller blades, with short breaks on the blanket. Dan spent about half the time on his bike, switching to his blades to roll off with Andy. We've been coming to Mariposa park for about 8 years now. It was walking distance from our last house, so we were there almost every day since Andy was 3, and before Dan was born. Now, it's about 7 miles from our new home, and tho we have two neighborhood parks, neither one is as well-suited to our activities as Mariposa, so at least once a week -- often two or three times -- we spend a few hours there. Now that I'm home weekends, it's a regular destination for the four of us most weekends. The park has lots of parking, lots of sidewalks, a concrete basketball court --all essential for blading and biking -- shade, tables, and a playground.

With summer vacation on now, we find we're more often sharing the park with others. I'll admit we like to have it to ourselves -- I enjoy the quiet, and the boys enjoy the free access to the courts and sidewalks. One thing I've noticed is how often I see kids crying when it's time to go home, or unhappy with the outing in some way, usually to do with being overly controlled by their parent/s, or not getting enough help or involvement from their parents.

Noticing that caused me to reflect on what happy children our boys are. What a joyous and free life we enjoy. They are good friends and wonderful companions to each other. Sure, they bicker sometimes, and they're very different people at their core, but they really do look out for and think of each other. I attribute this to at least two things we've managed to give them -- security and autonomy. Our boys know we love not only them, but each other, and that our love for them, our desire to see them happy and joy-filled, is the outgrowth of that love. They also know that respecting their autonomy is my most deeply-held goal. It's not our place to dictate to them what their life should be. Rather it is our honor to watch them grow, to support in them the spark of whatever they love to do, to explore their path with them, led by their passions. We know they are already complete -- and magnificent -- individuals, capable of amazing, wondrous feats, and inherently joy-filled.

These are concepts I grew up without, so I don't know from my own experience how it feels to have security and autonomy, but I can see in our children, what a gift it is, and I'm so happy -- and at times surprised, challenged and humbled -- to be able to give this to them. I'm so very grateful for this life we live, together. For the love and joy and wonder in our lives every day.

Andy posed for this picture -- and for several other funny ones, with his hands over his eyes and his tongue sticking out -- and I just can't believe this boy of mine who looks - and is -- so self-assured, bright, loving, and thoughtful.

I sneaked this picture of Dan, but he didn't protest. How is it that my baby is so big? Look at those dancing eyes and that smile. In this shot, he had just skated over to us and was dropping onto the blanket to be 'in the middle' of a hug. His insistence on being in the middle of everything reminds me that it was his arrival that made our family 'done.'

When we arrived the boys on the fire engine were using the basketball court. Within a few minutes, Andy had invited them to chase him on his blades, meaning no one had to surrender the play space.


This past Weds, while Dan spent a day at Ironwood Farm with Scotty, Andy & I met Crystal & Sorscha at Explora. Altho Sorscha had been to some homeschool science classes at Explora, she'd never roamed the museum. Never even seen the living room-sized elevator -- complete with the living room furniture! Andy was thrilled to be able to show her around one of his favorite places.
Crystal at Bernoulli's Ball -- feeling the wind in her hair.
Andy feeling the wind -- he'd hoped it would straighten his hair. No luck there, it's curly forever now!

One happy girl, flying the plane at Explora.

At the outside playground at Explora, Andy shows off his treadmill technique with the roller-bar slide. He talked Sorscha into taking a run, too.
We had a great day, seeing old -- and new -- exhibits, running around with Sorscha and just hanging out with Crystal.