Category Archives: Seventh Grade

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

We Made it!

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We made it. The last day of school. We arrived early, and they were thrilled. They’re excited about field day, report cards, the picnic this afternoon, and class assignments. Lyle showed me (twice) the tiny cheat sheet in his shorts pocket that matches next year’s teachers with their room numbers, so when he sees the room number on his report card today he’ll know which teacher will be his. He cried about having to say good bye to his beloved third grade teacher today. Baxter is hoping he gets his awesome math teacher for homeroom next year. She is truly amazing and so I hope so, too.

Baxter got an award for straight As this year and Lyle is on the honor roll for getting all As and Bs. I’m so proud of all their hard work, particularly in the face of a lot of stress for them at home.

Happy End of School!

One School Year

Dear Baxter & Lyle,

September 2012 to June 2013 — 9 months — one school year. So much change. Your lives at home have changed dramatically and you look so very different. But here you are, laughing and being ridiculous together just as you’ve always done.

Love you boys, and I’m so proud of how beautifully you are growing up. Keep being ridiculous together.

xo,

Mom

September 2012 June2013

26 Acts of Kindness

IMG_0920Yesterday was the last day of school here in Chicago before the winter break. In lieu of a cheesy holiday movie on that last interminable day of school, my seventh grader’s teacher made the decision to show the kids a video about Ann Curry’s 26 Acts of Kindness campaign, created to honor the 26 children and adults who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT one week before. My son and his friends were very aware of the tragedy in Newtown, pulling together the following Monday to wear blue in honor of those killed, and talking about it quite a bit. The kids were inspired to go out and engage in 26 Acts of Kindness themselves and then come back to share what they’ve been doing in person and on their class’ private educational social media site. The students have been posting their acts of kindness this weekend, and they’re quite uplifting.

My son came home with the idea to bake cookies for 26 people and deliver them around the city this weekend; his 8-year old brother jumped into the idea with both feet and they were off and running. I can’t express enough what a joy it was for us as a family to do this together and I believe that it is especially important for school children to feel that they are helping in some positive way during a time that is so sad and scary for them. I am very grateful for the teacher’s idea to share this with the kids; it’s a perfect example of ways teachers impact our children for life. I can point to specific ways my teachers positively influenced my thoughts and actions as I grew up and now I see the same thing happening for my kids.

For me, the heart and energy I saw the boys pour into this project, and their interactions with strangers around our neighborhood, was all the gift I needed this Christmas. Below are photos of our adventure as the four of us worked together to make this happen today. Here is our story (click on any picture to see it enlarged):

Each of the boys made 13 cards to attach to their plates of cookies…

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We all worked hard making a huge batch of sugar cookies while listening to music DJ’d by the 7th grader.

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Here we have the requisite Gangnam Style dance interlude while one batch was baking…

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Next, the kids assembled 26 plates of cookies, covered them in plastic wrap, and attached their notes to the top of them. They each carried a bag of 13 plates out into the neighborhood.

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Starting with our mail carrier, the boys approached every person they passed in our neighborhood, asking if they’d like some free homemade cookies. We walked the couple blocks to our local El stop and gave them out to people coming and going from the train, including a failed attempt to give some to the CTA worker inside. We all had our favorite recipients; mine was probably the runner who jogged the rest of the way home carrying his plate of homemade cookies. He gave each of the boys a high-five, exclaiming to each of them in turn, “You my man!” 

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Our New Year’s resolution is to think of more random acts of kindness all year long. Happy Holidays to you all!

(For more information about this campaign, here’s a video about it; you can also find plenty of inspiring ideas by searching the #26Acts and #20Acts hashtags on Twitter!) 

The Old One-Two

I love it when my kids hit me with the “old one-two”. Lyle appears with this funny little drawing of an “up and down” man, and Baxter looks at it over my shoulder and comments seriously, “He’s probably bipolar.”