Quarantine, Week One-ish: Kid Chess

We have been knee deep in a game of Kid Chess for over a week. The kind of decisions that need to be made in families with shared custody are more complicated in these times. In our household there are a total of four kids. Each pair of siblings has another parent, in another house close by. Three of those kids are in college and one is in high school. One isn’t even a “kid” anymore, as he is now 21. All of them are mature, smart, kind kids whom we adore.

Rob and I have been diligent. I have asthma and this virus could be very bad news for me. We worked from home the minute we were allowed to. We made a couple grocery runs together early on and then ceased going out other than to take walks or short runs staying far from other people within a few blocks of our house, and when we do that we only touch the door knobs of our condo building with a bleach wipe. We are making simple meals. Groceries coming in now are being delivered and then wiped down before going into the kitchen. We are sheltering in place like a couple of badasses.

But the kids! The college kids all attend school out of state – in midwestern states that had fewer early cases than Illinois – and their schools closed residential options to students in stages in favor of remote learning: stages that made total sense in the context of college administrators finding safe places for all of their students to go (oh, the international students!!) without losing access to housing and food, but also stages that allowed domestic students to take their time leaving. Some students who could drive home (or be picked up) and weren’t subject to a flight at a scheduled time felt a certain leisure about their departure. And so the kids in our household made their way home in phases, coming in and out of our bleach-scented quarantine one at a time. If we were trying to keep track of a 14-day quarantine at first, our clock got reset every other day and we gave up.

We decided with our exes to shelter-in-place with one child each, which meant we’d have two kids here. This seemed good for stretching out quarantine supplies. And so in my family we made the decision that Kid C should stay here because he has a dog allergy that hasn’t been tested for a long period of time at his Dad’s house: no brainer. I sent both of my kids, C and D, to their Dad’s for a few days early last week; we wanted them all to have time together before we split the kids up. I was sad when I dropped off Kid D, knowing he’d be hunkered down at his Dad’s for what could be a fairly long time, but we wanted to minimize the coming and going. He stood on the stoop and saluted me earnestly when I left: “Be well, Soldier!”

In the meantime, Kid B came home from college last Tuesday night, along with a friend who was driving across the country to get home, and so of course we had him spend the night as well. Following all the precautions, we welcomed them in (from 6 feet away). I stripped the guest’s bed wearing gloves and bleach wiped the bedroom and bathroom he had used when he left. 48 hours later, Kid B – the only kid staying with us at that point, for those of you daring to keep track at home – learned that someone in his dorm had tested positive, and so all previous plans were scrapped until we could see that he was remaining asymptomatic. This meant that Kid A had won more time at school before we’d go get him. My kids stayed where they were rather than splitting up.

Kid A was due home yesterday – finally, all kids back in Chicago! – but we got a text early in the morning that he’d woken up with signs of illness. And that a close friend had tested positive for the virus and they’d been together last weekend. And so, instead of Kid A coming home yesterday, he is continuing to shelter-in-place in his frat house out of state until further notice. We are thankful that for most people, and certainly most kids his age, COVID-19 will present with very mild symptoms. Since our doctors don’t have enough tests available to them, we may never know if Kid A has the coronavirus at all.  He’s unlikely to get tested unless his symptoms worsen. But we will be very relieved when he is in the clear and can come home.

Once we realized that we had no kids we knew to have been potentially exposed to the virus in the house, I went down and picked up Kid C from his Dad’s last night – getting in my car for the first time in 8 days – and so now three of our kids are settling in for the foreseeable future in their houses.

This is all a game of calculated risk management with an invisible enemy. For all we know, Rob and I have already been exposed and have given it to every kid who has passed through here: maybe he got it on the Metra before he started working from home, maybe I picked it up from a client or in the waiting room at work, maybe we got it at one of the grocery stores. Maybe one of my kids brought it in from school over a week ago and has passed it on to his Dad’s house as well. It’s so possible that all of our calculated risks at this point are for naught but we can only base decisions on known diagnoses: 1 kid in a dorm – not a friend, no direct contact – tested positive and 1 kid’s close friend – direct contact while asymptomatic – tested positive. Knowing how many undiagnosed cases are out there it seems like folly at times to base decisions on those facts, but we are measuring risk and making decisions around anything we can on a daily basis right now, like everyone else.

My hope for my household and yours: be well and be together as much as it’s safe to be.

14!

IMG_1623-1.JPGDear Lyle,

Today you turn 14. Some years I am feeling nothing more than disbelief about each of your ages as it ticks by. But this one? It makes perfect sense to me.

My love, at 14 you are everything you’ve always been: quick-witted, insightful, intelligent, independent, and determined. But now you are all of those amazing qualities in a taller version that surprises me at least half the time when you walk into a room. You like to refer to me as “Short stack”, which will only be a joke for another five minutes. Without a doubt, you’ll have surpassed me at this time next year, which will be great on the basketball court.

Your sense of humor is outrageous. At your 8th grade graduation, the teachers shared that you were “hands down” the funniest member of your class, according to your peers. You made Nana and me laugh from one end of Montreal to the other in June with your fake French accent. You’ll start taking French this year in high school and we can’t wait until you can put some words to the accent. You often show up in my room at night when I’m ready for bed, and put on a one-man show until I kick you out so I can go to sleep and need to stop laughing.

Lyle, thank you for bringing us your random improvisation, your determination in the gym and on the court, your humor, and your very sensitive heart. I appreciate your confident independence and ability to get yourself anywhere you want, as I know this will extend into your adult life. This week we’ll be bringing your big brother to college, and the following week you’ll start high school. I can’t wait to see what you do with the new opportunities and space being created all around you in the coming year.

Happy 14th Birthday, Sweetheart.

Love, Mom

 

 

Tomorrow

Dear Baxter,

On the night before your first day of kindergarten in August 2005, your parents started a blog, Baxtergarten. I didn’t really know what a blog was, but I remember sitting down to write my first post that night in the little sunroom off our bedroom in San Francisco as if it were yesterday. I wrote about how we helped prepare you for school and what was on my mind as you set off for such a big adventure. What a milestone in our lives that was! I found the post – you can read it here.

On this, the night before your last day of senior year in high school, with college on the immediate horizon, this paragraph of that kindergarten eve post brings tears to my eyes:

Everyone asks if we’re nervous or sad about this big change. I can’t speak for Matt, but I’m mostly just excited. I don’t feel nervous at all, and sad? – no. It’s more like nostalgia for me. Amazing how quickly we’ve gotten to this night, and how much Baxter has changed in these four-and-three-quarter years. But he couldn’t be more ready for this new adventure, and I feel confident that he’s completely up for it. That much was clear when we watched him bolt up the unfamiliar school stairs in search of the play yard on Friday. So I feel ready, as ready as that backpack and lunchbox and fresh outfit all laid out in his room. Then again, maybe that’s just tonight.

There was so much I knew about who you were at age almost-five, and a great deal I could have guessed at if anyone had asked me what you’d be like as you’re leaving high school and home. But there were a few things I never could’ve known back then.

I knew you had a great sense of humor when you went off to kindergarten, but I didn’t know that you’d be making me fall over laughing just about every day as a high school senior with your dry and very quick wit.

I knew you could chant for a Democratic candidate with the best of them, but I didn’t know you’d be following politics and world events as closely as I am in 2018. Thanks for marching with me this year and for paying attention. I’m sorry you won’t be 18 in time for the midterms.

I knew then that you loved music and that each time I was about to turn up one of my favorite songs you’d call out from the back seat of the car to ask me to turn it up. “I love this one!” you’d crow from your booster seat. But I didn’t know that we’d be touring colleges all over the midwest years later, belting out the Hamilton soundtrack together in the car over and over from Illinois to Minnesota to Iowa. I should’ve known you’d be able to memorize every word, though, you always could do that.

I didn’t know that my little guy who avoided writing and drawing at that age would make me hilarious hand-drawn cards every Mother’s Day and birthday year after year, all the way through high school, gifting me a treasure trove of delightful cards to enjoy long after he leaves home.

I knew that you loved animals, particularly dinosaurs, the day you went off to kindergarten, and that you wanted to be a zoologist or paleontologist when you grew up. You slept with a visual animal dictionary under your pillow, after all. But with all the interest in math and computer science during the intervening years, I didn’t know that by the end of your senior year you’d be hoping to study biology – with an eye toward zoology – in college. When you went to the 2-day event for admitted college students this past spring, you told me the best class you sat in on was zoology and that on the day you visited they were learning about dinosaur sex. See? College is going to be awesome, son.

Just as I felt that night before kindergarten so many years ago – before Pokemon and Bey Blades and our move to Chicago and the changes in our family, the stapled bonus jaguar and summers at our little urban beach on Columbia Ave. and all those other Explore More projects and before the glasses and the braces and then adjusting to the lack of braces and the contacts and the new friends and all the crazy house moves and the Pathfinder and the Magic the Gathering and the Dungeons and Dragons and the college tours and you Rick Rolling me on the Sonos and trips to California and long road trips together and all those big high school kids gathered around the dining room table playing games and eating pizza and dropping f-bombs and all the laughs at the dinner table and the night you managed to get tomato soup all the way onto the wall across the room (we still don’t know how you did it) and a million bedtime hugs and I love yous – I feel exactly the same way about the milestone you have now approached. That is:

I’m mostly just excited. I don’t feel nervous at all, and sad? – no. It’s more like nostalgia for me. Amazing how quickly we’ve gotten to this night, and how much you have changed in these 17-and-a-half years. And also, in hindsight, all the ways you are exactly who you were at 4-and-three-quarters. But now, like then, you couldn’t be more ready for this new adventure, and I feel confident that you are completely, 100%, up for it. Also, looking back at kindergarten eve, it’s great that you make your own lunch and pick out your own clothes, so thanks for that.

Go take on the world, my love. The world is a wonderful place with you in it and every new person and place you meet will be made better for knowing you.

Love, Mom

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Mirrors

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Beth, Jordan, Julie, Cara, Sara

 

Wherever, whenever we meet

there is love.

Gathering every year or two

we see our selves in each other’s faces

the reflection of younger features known so well from pictures

shared and reshared and texted at amusing moments

for years on end

until we see the young faces in the middle-aged

and can no longer tell the two apart

and we know it doesn’t matter anyway.

We see our own selves at 19 and 26 and 30 and 38 and 42

and, now: 47, 48.

In one visit everyone suddenly has BIFOCALS

and then eventually we’ve all upgraded to PROGRESSIVES

and each time someone ventures to share another change in her life

the odd CHIN HAIR or the first HOT FLASHES

or a HEALTH SCARE or a disdain for PROMPOSALS

someone else or four someone elses raise their hands

and say, Oh, yes – me, too, with that thing you shared. Me, too.

The funny texts from parents

and kids growing up awfully fast, with moody eighth graders being a real thing

that needs to be discussed at length

and one of us with a son about to leave for the college where we all met

each other’s faces

29 years ago

and that feels very, very eerie and wonderful.

There is love

and there is laughter, so much of it,

the kind that hurts your face

and your abs

and makes you run for the bathroom very quickly after age 40

and that requires you to find a box of Kleenex fifteen minutes into the visit

because at least three of you are already crying laughing and no one can breathe

and there’s something said about starting a podcast in which it’s all dead air

because of the incessant silent unbreathing laughter

and it’s not a visit until she needs to take her inhaler from all the laughing.

Which only happens with these particular friends.

We see our past and present selves all bound into one

when we look into each other’s faces

and we see the future as well,

one in which we will take trips

New Orleans, ASAP!

Mexico, for our 50th birthdays!

or just, you know, anywhere that lets us talk

so probably not a library or movie theater

and we talk about building a compound

for us all when we get old

to take care of each other

where there will be talking and laughter

amid the shared meals and care

and noisy chickens on the roof so we always have fresh eggs,

but we won’t hear them because we’ll all be a little deaf, she assures us.

And so we stand in middle age

or rather lie doubled over laughing in middle age,

tears streaming from our eyes,

our oldest truest selves revealed to us yet again

and seeing with gratitude

past, present, and future together

in each other’s lovely faces

and all it really means is

there is love.

 

 

17

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This year the words are caught in my throat before I even start to put them down on the page.

Seventeen.

Baxter, you are amazing. Here you are now, a senior in high school, deep in the college application process. Writing and editing essays has taken up a fair amount of your time this fall. Somehow, before the last of the snow eventually thaws, we’ll know with some certainty where you’ll spend your next several birthdays.

But even as you plan for your next steps you are also steeped in life. You are happy in your friendships, old and new. You’re engaged in your classes, excitedly sharing details about what you’re learning in the evenings. You’re especially loving Psychology and Zoology right now, ever broadening your love of the sciences.

These days we chat about everything: past, present, and future. Last week we talked some about your early years, and the conversation turned to your abiding love for and deep expertise about dinosaurs back when you were little, which prompted a plan for me to bring all your old toy animals home from my office. You couldn’t believe I still had them, those toys we played with for hours on end for years. You still have the original three?! you asked excitedly. They are on your bed now, your name in faded red Sharpie on the belly of each one, waiting for you to come back from Dad’s.  Like me, they remember you bringing them to preschool at UCSF and then teaching your kindergarten class all about them in your first year of school.  They too seem shocked to discover that you are in your last year of school, but we’re all trying to play it cool.

I watch now with wonder as all the most prominent early characteristics of your personality reemerge so clearly after a few quiet years of adolescence. As easily as I see the bright and exuberant little boy you once were, I can also see the kind, hilarious, and thoughtful adult you are becoming. I have always been proud to be your mother, but perhaps never more so than at this moment.

This last year with you at home is a gift, Baxter. Thank you for being born all those years ago, and for being great company all along the way. When the time comes for you to head off to college next fall, I’ll surely be sad for me but very glad for the place you’ll create in the world. Wherever you end up, the world is so lucky to have you.

Happy 17th Birthday, Sweetheart.

Love,

Mom (& the original three*)

*which might be the original two + an interloper but I’m working on it!

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13!

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Dear Lyle,

You know, I loved it when you were a baby. I used to tell anyone who would listen that I wanted to freeze you at whatever age you were, so that I could enjoy that stage for just a little longer. I remember someone thinking that was very strange when you were three months old. But I meant it. And then you were the sweetest little boy, with your big brown dreamy eyes and shy smile, hiding your face in my neck and holding onto me for dear life, basically all the time.

But I’m glad I didn’t freeze you at three months, or age four, or even seven and a half. Because then I wouldn’t have you as a 13-year old today, and sweetie, who you are is magical.

At 13 you are that complicated and delightful combination of young boy and teenager. In one long stream of words you tell me that you’re getting buff and that you are highly impressed with your own tan lines this summer, and then ask if I’ll be coming in to tuck you in soon. Of course, I say, smiling to myself, glad that such a buff child still wants a kiss good night, though I continually stub my toe in the dark on the hand weights you keep next to your bed.

You are extremely independent and confident, navigating your way around this big city on your own. You get yourself to and from school on the CTA, and told me last week that you don’t want to take driver’s ed when you’re in high school, because what was the point? You’d never want a car when you can use public transportation to get everywhere. You had a dream recently in which you were taking the purple line downtown and you found that so strange because everyone knows the purple line goes to Evanston, not downtown, and I lost track of the rest of the dream because I couldn’t believe you were dreaming of CTA lines. On your free days in the summer you meet up with your pal Gabriel, friends since you were three years old, and the two of you have amazing adventures. Sometimes you take the El to get someplace in the neighborhood you could as easily walk  to, and we do like to argue good-naturedly over that one. But the two of you will throw a basketball into a backpack and head off into the neighborhood on your bikes, looking for a free hoop wherever you can find it. You are all about basketball.

And, as always, at 13 you are so very, very funny. Tonight as we were driving over to your birthday dinner, you glanced sidewise at my outfit and said seriously and with a hint of an eye roll in your voice, I didn’t even know you owned that dress – it’s like it came out of nowhere!

Sweet boy, you are sensitive and loving and engaged in the world at all times and athletic and have more emotional intelligence than most adults. What a wonderful combination! I am incredibly grateful to be your mother, and not only because you ask how my day was and actually listen. I cannot wait to see what this year holds for you.

All my love,

Mom xoxoxo

 

Now

Now it suddenly seems I have another life, one that feels dramatically different in many ways from what came before the election, just two months ago. Now there is a poster in the front window of the apartment letting the world, or my little corner of it, know that “Hate Has No Home Here” and one on the dining room wall stating, among other very basic beliefs, that “Science is real” because now apparently that’s something we are driven to put in writing and declare to houseguests without a second thought as if it’s a radical act. Maybe next it’ll be “We breathe air” framed prettily in the kitchen and “The floor is below us” sprucing up the bedroom.

Now I get up early to start reading the news and signing petitions, making phone calls, and sending emails, depending on the priority actions of the day. I’m strongly imploring those we put in office to oppose or continue to support, and when I read about a Member of Congress standing on the side of good or love or the poor or the sick or the disabled or female or in any way standing up loudly to those who are doing wrong, I find their social media sites and sign up to follow them, taking a moment to write: Thank you.

Thank you. Now I’m thanking politicians I’ve never heard of, newspapers and reporters and TV anchors that I’ve never considered being grateful for, sometimes thanking them simply for being brave enough to say or publish a 3-letter word: lie. After a long day’s work, if the boys aren’t here, I come home to make a few more calls and read more news and then decide if I’ll be knitting more pussyhats for friends and family, or will I read one of the books piled high on my nightstand – maybe the Rebecca Solnit or Michelle Alexander or the 3-part John Lewis series or Howard Zinn. Books my tired news-reading eyes aren’t always up for at night, but that are calling to me. These are not the books that used to sit on my nightstand.

Now when the kids are here we watch Selma on the weekend and listen to the WBEZ radio documentary The View from Room 205 in chapters over several dinners. I sign up for action meetings in hopes of finding a group that seems like a good fit. Our Christmas tree is still standing because I’d rather stay up to speed on the world around us than painstakingly take one ornament down after another and put the thing away. Soon, I tell myself. But there is a fight at hand and it feels a lot more important than any concern over prolonging Christmas into late January.

Now we have a swirl of news day in and day out that feels nothing short of terrifying. We have a tantruming man-child of a fascist rather than a President and we find ourselves repeating to our children This is not normal, this does not happen in our country, over and over and over. But it is happening. It is a constant tornado of Sean Spicer’s lies for his boss and Kellyanne Conway’s alternative facts and the EPA and Rex Tillerson and De Vos with her grizzly bears and a fight over the size of inaugural crowds and rogue National Parks officials daring to tweet after an executive order and conservative legislators calling Women’s Marchers whiny and mentally ill and I keep looking at the source of news articles just praying even one will say TheOnion.com so that I can laugh, relieved, and yet it never does anymore and it just. keeps. coming. like one punch to the gut after another. It’s what passes for the news now, and it’s nothing less than surreal.

And so of course now we Resist. Now we gather peacefully together and show each other, our President, and the world who we really are. I walk into the Chicago airport alone on a Saturday morning, with nothing more than a small purse stuffed with phone chargers, a toothbrush, and clean underwear, and hug strangers at the gate for our flight headed to D.C., one of whom puts her arm around me, crying, as random people at the gate photograph the whole lot of us, and fly myself across the country only to get out right into the middle of a crowd of over a million people to stand up and be counted and make my voice heard. A city I haven’t been to since I was six years old and had my father take pictures of me with a baby doll in our hotel room. But now I’m back and instead of taking smiling photos with a baby doll I chant and cry and sing and laugh with the pink-hatted strangers packed in tightly around me holding brilliant signs, and know that I could trust any one of these people to take care of me if I needed to, and realize that, in fact, I do need to and will for years to come.

Now when the news is bad I am drawing some solace and energy from the experiences collected that day: the old women marching in wheelchairs, the men loudly claiming their feminist stances, the babies asleep on their mothers’ chests, the waves of cheering moving through the enormous crowd, the awesome young woman holding a sign that proclaimed It’s my bachelorette party and I can march if I want to, the young people energized like never before, the easy buddying up with others whenever needed, Madonna performing Express Yourself in a black pussyhat, the Chinese man who drives my Uber back to the airport who keeps saying, in broken English and in an awed tone, I have been here 10 years. I have never seen so many people before. And it seemed like…it was all mothers?  I don’t correct him because I’m too tired and, well, I know what he means. The feeling of certainty that we are on the right side of history and we are not only fired up but also very ready to go. That simply being there I was communicating my strong values directly to my children. And of knowing, because we felt it in our own crowded bodies and heard the joyful noise and experienced it with our whole selves in ways that were both exhilarating and exhausting: there are enough of us and we can do this. This is not the end but only the beginning; it was the coming-out party for the Resistors, and it happened all over the world that day.

Now I also find solace in an evening at home with my own children. With a teenager who follows the news and wants to talk about what’s going on, who can laugh at the most wicked memes with me and share in my shock at the day’s events, and then play me the awesome music he helped mix in the sound engineering studio at his public school. And with a middle schooler who wants to learn to make the turkey tacos so that next Tuesday he can get them started while I’m on my way home from work, and who chats and catches me up on his life of the last five days while we cook the simple meal together.

Now we remind ourselves that this truly is a marathon, not a sprint. And while we can’t afford to look away or bury our heads in the sand for even a day, we will need to pace ourselves, knowing that if we pause to talk to the children and listen to their music and make dinner together, and yes, maybe even put that Christmas tree away before Valentine’s Day, one of those other joyful noisemakers – one of those women or men who put themselves in the same place we did last Saturday, standing shoulder to shoulder with us in body or in spirit – can be trusted to take care of those calls and petitions tonight. There will be more to do tomorrow. But now we rest.

 

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This is Sweet [Smart, Funny, Handsome] 16

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One day you wake up to find that your adorable little guy has become an adorable big guy – one who still wears braces but has begun to trade his signature glasses in for contacts. And sometimes, when 16 is hanging out with his friends, he might just have a llama on his head. For, as the kids say, Reasons. We don’t need to know more than that. It’s better that way.

It turns out that 16 is a junior in high school. Let that sink in for a moment: junior. In high school. And he’s wicked smart and funny and oh-so-quick with the wit. 16 makes his mother hoot with laughter on the regular, especially when he catches her saying something lame and repeats it, following it up with, “– Jordan Sadler, 2016, Ladies and Gentlemen”.

16 is in his room a lot less these days, but that’s mostly because he’s out somewhere with his friends, riding in shopping carts and god knows what other shenanigans. When you come home from work in the midst of 16’s birthday celebration, you will be greeted with the Hamilton soundtrack blasting, noisy kids hollering to each other, empty chip bags, and several games strewn around the house, abandoned in favor of singing and dancing.

The days with 16 at home are starting to feel numbered. Another year and a half of seeing his adorable face day in and day out, and then off he’ll go. But these days are even more fun than any others that came before them (impossible! you say, but no – it’s true), and you soak them up like crazycakes.

It’s not an easy time in the world, but 16’s light shines bright, leaving the rest in the shadows, which makes me the lucky one. Happy Birthday, sweet Baxter. I love you to the moon and back!

12

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Dear Lyle,

It seems that now you are 12. Holy cow. What does that mean for you?

For starters, 12 is big. Tall. With long legs that seemed to stretch all summer long; in fact, you felt them growing. I wonder if you’ll remember that.

12 is – like ages one through eleven before it – hilariously funny. I often say you were put on this earth to make me laugh every single day. You’re outrageous, or – as your Great-Grandma DB once exclaimed happily after sitting next to you at a meal – you’re a three-ring circus! 12 likes to sleep in my big bed on hot summer nights when the air conditioner is on, and say random things that make me laugh and laugh until I have to tell you to stop once and for all and go to sleep so that I, too, can sleep. 12 is always up for a back rub and a snuggle, and I’m happy to oblige, knowing all too well that a new season of development is just around the corner.

12 likes a challenge – novelty! Anything new is interesting and bears online research, much discussion, and learning more about. I love the curiosity you hold at age 12. On Tuesday your new math teacher taught you a math trick with dice, and the next thing I knew you were off researching dice and card tricks in your room and running out to demonstrate them. Before they were quite learned, mind you. Imagine this only looks like one card, you begin, clearly holding a whole stack of cards. It’s a lucky thing I have a good imagination. This morning I had to ask you to pause your new tricks so that you could eat breakfast.

Last weekend we made a pact at your request, promising that if either of us invented time travel in the future, we’d come back to that exact instant. You were eating pizza and grapes for lunch, and I was folding laundry. It seemed as good a moment as any to return to, and so I agreed. You began to glance furtively around the apartment, hoping, I then realized, that either your clone or mine would appear from the future to join us. I found myself hoping along with you.

But above all, what is new and different about this moment is that 12 is so very independent. 12 takes public transportation with ease and walked to a local park with a friend to swim last week. 12 has begun to go off into the neighborhood on solo adventures. I’m heading out for a bike ride, 12 declares after dinner, stuffing his keys and mobile phone into his shorts pockets. I’ll be back before dark. 12 grabs a basketball and calls out, I’m going to shoot hoops at the park! See you in an hour!

This is an absolutely lovely moment in time with you. You are on the cusp of even more wonderful changes as you begin 7th grade, and I am so grateful to be along on this ride with you. If I invent time travel in the future, I will welcome the chance to come back to visit you in this moment again and again. I’ll bring the deck of cards and a bike helmet.

I love you, sweetheart! Happy Birthday from the bottom of my heart.

xoMom

Fifteen. That’s right.

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Dear Baxter,

Today you are 15.

15.

Yeah, you know the drill: about five minutes ago you were a tiny baby, yadda yadda yadda. [Actually. Let’s be real. You were never a tiny baby, you were only ever a ginormous baby, but I forgave you for that long ago.]

I recall that you were six for a while, and for a blink of an eye you were nine years old this one time. [To be honest, though, it seemed like you were three and four years old for a really, really long time. Maybe more than all the other years put together. But we won’t worry about that.]

I think you jumped straight from age 9 to 15 but I’m not sure. Somewhere in the middle you got that expander and had super awesome buck teeth and I took a lot of photos because oh! those buck teeth! So fabulous. All I know really about the passage of time is that you shot up 4 inches in the past year and you are this 6 foot giant of a reed thin boy who is going to take Driver’s Ed in the spring and so it has to have gone by really fast.

And, as I’ve learned will always be true, you are only becoming more yourself as you get older. You’re that baby and that three year old [god help me] and that six year old and the nine year old and everything in between, just taller and wiser and funnier and even more handsome because there are no more buck teeth plus you have all that great hair and awesome glasses. I love to hear you sing weird songs and talk about Magic the Gathering. Laughing with you while watching the Republican debate last week was hilarious and gave me hope for the future of the country.

Thanks for always knowing how to unabashedly be yourself, for wearing a Pikachu hat to high school, and for always being cool without worrying for one second about being Cool. We could all learn a thing or two from you, Sweetie.

Happy Birthday. I love you. xoxoxo