Sunday, March 31, 2013

For Alex Who Is Seven

I got this idea from Andie at bluemilk, and I enjoyed her post so much that I decided to do one of my own.

I think it's all too rare that we celebrate and recognise our children for specifically what makes them, them. The infuriating, the great, and everything in between. Of course we all love our children but I know I am sometimes guilty of getting carried away on the abstract emotion and it's good to stop and consider what it is about this little person that's so wonderful. Occasionally the kids will say to me, "What if you had another kid instead of me? Would you love them as much?" - a philosophical doozy if ever there was one. The 'sliding doors' of parenting. Do I love my children for who they  are or simply by virtue of the fact that they are my children and I am biologically designed to love them? I tell them the answer is: both. Of course I am designed to love them, and I do. But I also love what is unique in them. The biologically-driven love is there already. The other things are what I search out and name.

So this is for Alex. I know he is quite private and so am I, but I hope he doesn't mind me sharing this, when he's old enough to understand it.

Ten Things I Love About You

1. The intensity with which you do and feel everything. You won't put a lid on it. You react viscerally to the world. This is not over-sensitivity, you do not need to "suck it up" although the world keeps telling you to. It's okay. Keep expressing yourself. The delight, the rage. It's all truth. I'm not afraid of it. It does make me worry for you sometimes, and I can see so much of myself in you. But I won't look away, or tell you to get over it. On the day before your birthday, you had been moody all afternoon. You walked up to our whiteboard and drew this.

Then looked me in the eye and walked away. I get it.

2.Your empathy and kindness. The way you come and crawl into bed for a cuddle when I have a sleep-in on the weekends, then get up and tuck me in and tell me you'll come back and let me know when Dad has made the tea. What a wonderful way to wake up.
When Maya told me at your birthday party that she was feeling left out, and you were having so much fun with your friends, I pulled you aside and told you what Maya had said, and you went over to comfort her and give her a hug. When you took treats to school to hand out to your classmates, you made sure to take an extra one for  Diego, the school bus driver.

3. Your persistence. This drives me crazy but I am so happy that you stand your ground and don't back down easily. You keep going until you are satisfied, with an answer or an outcome.

4. The way you question everything. Nothing is a given. Sometimes we go down such long paths of questioning that can only lead to both of us pulling our hair out in frustration (often while I am driving on a freeway). Sometimes the only answer I have is "I don't know." Other times it's "let's find out." When you were two you asked me who makes it day and night, when you were three it was what happens when saltwater and fresh water come together in the ocean or sea? And questions of death, theology, human behaviour ("why do kids give me presents that they would like instead of thinking about what I would like?" "why do some grown ups think they know everything more than kids? I bet they don't know as many Star Wars characters as I do"), and of course " would you die if XX happened" (often with demonstration using a teddy or toy as model) continue to come thick and fast. And innumerable questions about thieves, traps, and the Home Alone movies. You make me question and define my position on almost everything. This is a good thing.

5. Your enthusiasm. When you started Grade One you began to write  and illustrate your own books, and asked me how you would go about getting them published. One of your suggestions was to sell them out the front of the house. Pretty soon many of the other kids in your class were making books too. Your enthusiasm is catching. Since developing an interest* in the Trash Pack you find new and inventive ways to play with them. I love how you do this.


6. Your perceptiveness. You notice things that pass other people by. Your superb memory helps, but you also have a singular attention to detail. When you were three, I pointed out the sun at dusk and the way it dipped below the horizon. "No mummy," you corrected me, "It's not the sun that moves, it's the Earth." Whilst watching The Wizard of Oz, you asked what the wicked witch drank if water killed her. How did she live without water?
You also didn't like the Pete the Cat book where the cat gets his shoes covered with red strawberries followed by blueberries, and sings about his blue shoes. You felt that it should be purple shoes, since the red was already underneath, and you asked me to substitute the word purple each time blue appeared in the text.
You call me out when I'm distracted. "Mum that was the kind of 'yeah' you say when you're not really listening. Look at me!"

 A detailed rendering of the Trashies.

7. Your sense of reason. A few days after feeling disturbed by the lack of logic in Pete the Cat, you commented that perhaps they had said blue instead of purple because it fit into the rhythm of the sentence better - blue was only one beat and purple two. So it seems you had made peace with the factual anomaly for the sake of artistic license. Even after a meltdown you're always prepared (once calm) to come back and talk it through, and try to see the other point of view.

8. Your interest in and awareness of issues that affect other people. You ask me why there are not many Chinese or brown people on TV. You tell me your friend is not very lucky because there are not many brown superheroes to choose from. Mace Windu is one of the only ones. You ask about homeless people and how they got to be homeless. When you were four you said to me, "Some people might think $1 isn't much, but if you haven't got $1, then $1 is a lot."

9. Your refusal to be any one except just who you are. You won't be drawn into chit-chat by adults, you refuse eye contact because it makes you uncomfortable. You don't like having attention drawn to yourself.   Since before you wore socks with sandals for an entire term to preschool, you've never been worried about following the crowd. I was wondering whether the usual need to fit in might at some point supersede this individuality. So far it hasn't. When Maya started crying at the mention of getting a hair cut, you told her, "Beautiful is not important. Boys try to be cool, but I'm not cool and I don't care."  Ironically, this lack of concern about being cool, and this ability to be your own self, makes you the coolest kid ever in my book.

10.  The way you execute your rapid-fire karate moves, anytime anywhere. Getting ready for school, getting ready for a bath, whenever the mood strikes.


  1. SARAH ..... man I want to meet your son. You should get that stickman skeleton tattooed onto your arm.

    What a guy you got there. xxx

    1. EDEN! Thank you for commenting. <3
      I like the tattoo idea. I've never been able to think of anything that would hold lifelong meaning for me but this may be the thing. x

  2. This is such a beautiful piece, a homage to a wonderful boy who has got just the mother he needs. I know that one day he will read this, with adult and perhaps parent eyes, and fully appreciate what you have put on the page. xx