Friday, March 17, 2017

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A teenager? That's so lit!

Dear Alex,

Today you turn thirteen.  Thirteen!!!!  How and when did you become an official teenager!?!?!?  I know it's cliche, but it really does go by quickly...the days are long, the years are short, and all that.

As has become tradition when you have completed another year of life, I like to take some time to reflect on your personality, your accomplishments and yes, even your struggles over the past year.

In the truest notion of becoming a bar mitzvah, you seem more like a man than ever
At some point you stop changing so quickly.  When you were a baby we would see changes weekly, but now a whole year has gone by and your personality, your quirks are still Alex with all that is wonderful and all your imperfections (and I wouldn't have it any other way).  I think what has changed this year is how I react to you.  I will always be your mother and I will always "parent" you and raise you to be a decent human being.  However in the past year, it has become increasingly easier at times to be your friend.  Like when we discuss what's going on in the world, when we laugh at stupid puzzles games on NPR shows like Ask Me Another, or when we sit together in complete and companionable silence (shamefully) staring at our individual electronic devices.

Because you are acting more like an adult, I worry about parenting you as an adult.  I talk to you a lot about drinking and drugs.  Not because I think you are anywhere near trying, but because I want to have an open line of communication before anything happens.  I try to talk to you about relationships and girls too.  While you are receptive to discussions about the former (booze and drugs), you refuse to listen or respond to anything I have to say about the latter.   You are not ready to even talk about it; it's okay - I certainly do not want to rush your childhood.

Yes, you are still a child in many ways, including your sponge-like ability to learn new skills
This year you continued to work on the things that you love as well as tackle some completely new skills. In no particular order, this year you have:

  • studied to become a bar mitzvah
  • continued to master playing guitar
  • learned how to play lacrosse
  • grown as a basketball player
  • learned how to speak Spanish
  • sought progress (if not yet perfection) in your organizational skills
I am in awe as always, it is not easy to take on as much as you do.  

As Dr Seuss wrote "Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you!"
That personality of yours.  The emotional intelligence and kindness and empathy that you continue to exhibit.  That mildly introverted, want to be extroverted, old soul who gets on great with loads of individuals, but still hasn't figured out how to exist in a crowd for cocktail party kind of chat.  The kid who will laugh hysterically at base humor (Don't Mess With The Zohan being a recent favorite) and also laugh in an erudite way at idiosyncrasies in language.  Whose voice and ear for music are a tremendous gift.

Who cannot remember to hand in his homework.  Who is also wheeling & dealing with his teachers for an exception, instead of just doing his work in the first place.  Who loves staring at his phone just a little bit too much for my liking.

This kid who is the best friend and the best brother and the best son.  Who is thankful for all he has.  Who is privileged, but recognizes his privilege and asks for nothing more.  

Happy thirteenth birthday!  I do love you with all my heart, I hope you always carry that love with you to boost you up.

Love,
Mom

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Epic Embarassment

Dear Avery,

Last night you went to dinner at the Glen Rock Inn and were joined by me, Daddy, Alex and Auntie Dawn.  You are nearly nine years old (just to give some context to the story if you ever read this years from now).  It was Saturday, which meant that the bar was pretty crowded, but we ALWAYS sit at the bar because there is good energy and it is social and it is always an easy time waiting for a table since we tend to know a bunch of people there whenever we go.

So we waited and chatted with people and each other. And then we sat and ordered dinner and drinks and more people came in who we knew and we caught up with them as well.  The positive energy enveloped our table like a warm and cozy blanket.

At some point, you started to get tired (because you had been out since 8:30 a.m. when basketball started and hadn't had any time to just rest) and a wee bit cranky (because it's a bar and it's really loud and you were squished away in the corner of the table, oh yes, and you also have a bad cough and are losing your voice).  Nonetheless, the rest of us were having a great time and weren't ready to leave.

And then the music started.

Glen Rock Inn has bands come play on Saturday night, some better than others.  This was one of the "others", but at least the songs they were choosing were fun - Journey and Tom Petty and Heart.  We discovered that if we all sang loud enough at our table, we could pretty much drown out the sub-par singing across the bar.  We were singing our hearts out, even Alex, the almost teenager said, "I can really belt it!"

Well Avery, you were mortified!  You closed your ears and covered your head with your hood.  And our response to that was to laugh and to sing louder.  It really was a magical family evening and we have your embarrassment in part to thank for it.

I love you with all my heart.  And I look forward with great anticipation for you to join in on our hokey family sing-a-longs.

(before the singing, while we were waiting for a table and you insisted on making crazy faces)

Love,
Mama

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Gen Z

Dear Alex,

Sometimes I don't even realize how the world has changed until you point it out to me in the most direct way.

It's snowing today and we are all in the house for a snow day.  Of course, your dad and I are working because in the modern world there are no snow days for adults who can easily VPN and conference call in from home - business as usual.  
In any case, you had signed up earlier this year to volunteer for the Shovel For Seniors program that our town has.  This is the first (and hopefully the last) time that it has snowed.  Since it is still coming down pretty heavily, I asked you to call the older couple to let them know that you would be over later today after it had slowed down.  So you call and then come into the kitchen with your phone on speaker and say, "There's this sound coming when I call them, mom".  It was a busy signal, a phone sound that you had never heard and had no idea what it was.  I had to tell you that means someone is on the phone and they do not have voicemail or call waiting.

Modern times hitting up against luddites.  It can be confusing for a twelve almost thirteen year old.

Love ya,
Mom

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

And now for this brief interruption from living with pre-teenage angst...

Dear Alex,

I am alternately angry with and proud of you at any given point during your seventh grade, 12, almost 13 years old year.

It is a tumultuous year filled with growth and change and there is an enormous amount of demands being put on you as you study to become a bar mitzvah in addition to all of the regular demands of school and sports and music and friends.

So yes, unavoidably, there is strife.  Particularly for you, my organizationally challenged first born.  Through it all, I love you fiercely.

And then there are spots as bright as the August sun, spots where you take what is amazing about you and share it with the world.  Like the project that you have chosen to achieve status as a bar mitzvah. More on that in a few sentences, but first a description of mitzvot chaveri. The rabbi taught us about two different types of mitzvot, those between you and G-d (praying, keeping kosher, keeping Shabbat) and those between you and man, also known as mitzvot chaveri (commandments between friends).  It is this latter type of mitzvah that has led the Conservative Jewish movement to require some kind of mitzvah project for every person who will become a bar mitzvah.

We are living in times that very scarily mirror the social unrest that occurred in Europe before the Holocaust.  People who are legally seeking asylum in the US in order to save their lives are being turned away by a new administration that has implemented stricter immigration laws.  For your project, you are not being political, you are being humanistic.  You are raising awareness among a generation of people, teaching them about mindless intolerance and hate.  And you are doing it all in your own voice, making it relevant to kids your age.  Even as I type this, I feel an emotional swell of pride.  I love you fiercely.

Love,
Mom


Monday, January 30, 2017

And the compliment as a compliment

Saturday we went to Bernie Wedeen's party to celebrate him becoming a bar mitzvah.  Katie and Andy are wonderful hosts and we had a fantastic time.  It started out well when I came downstairs from getting ready.  A dress, heels and makeup on my face.  

About me.  I never wear makeup.  Not even some natural looking makeup that looks like I'm not wearing makeup.  I just don't wear it.  So when I wear it for fancy events it is very noticeable.

So I walk downstairs and the lovely and sweet Avery says, "Wow! You look just like a Snapchat filter!"

#hashtaggeneration #GenZsaysfiltersGenXsaysrosecoloredglasses

Avery says...

Mommy, you aren't so good to snuggle with sometimes because your hips are too bony!

a.k.a. the exact opposite of a backhanded compliment (a fronthanded criticism?)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Alex says...

...the main things that I listen to on Apple music are Eminem, Van Halen and the Hamilton soundtrack.

Monday, October 31, 2016

I knit, I write I quiet my brain

Dear kids,

It's Halloween night and I am listening to you in the other room trading candy. This end of the day is idyllic and happy, but there have been times today where my heart hurt for you, where I just wanted to protect you from the pain of growing up. This specific kind of heart pain always comes from relationships and learning to be social and feeling left out and finding your place. It stinks, but in a way I am also glad for these tiny hurts. In the long run, it will make you decent human beings.

I hope that we are done with the bad and that we can settle into a busy, easy, happy time.

I am glad that you are exactly who you are.

I love you,
Mom

Friday, October 21, 2016

Hints of Judaism

Dear Avery,

Today I was listening to you talk to one of your friends.  You were talking about a Thanksgiving project on which your class is working.  You said to your Jewish friend (referring to a cornucopia), "You know that Thanksgiving thing that looks like a shofar?"

I don't know why, but that one little sentence made me so happy.  It is hard having a Jewish identity when you live in a country where although there is separation of church and state, the majority of people do indeed go to the aforementioned "church".  Somehow by knowing the word "shofar" before you know the word "cornucopia" I have hope that you will be an American (adjective) Jew (noun), rather than a Jewish American.

Shanah Tovah to my sweet Aviva Gila.

Love,
Mama