Thursday, September 1, 2016

Moses at 6

Moses turned 6 last Sunday. It’s the first year I haven’t posted something for him here on the actual day; it took me a while to figure out how to navigate the he’s-getting-older-and-needs-to-be-able-to-figure-out-who-he-is-and-wants-to-present-to-the-world-vs.-I-use-my-blog-to-remember-important-information-about-my-kids-and-don’t-want-to-lose-that-while-also-respecting-his-need-to-figure-out-his-own-identity thing. I’ve asked him what he thinks about me writing the birthday posts (he knows what they are; we usually end up looking through his together around Hazel’s birthday, when he’s worried we don’t care about him at all), outlining my concerns and remembering that he’s too young to understand the internet or to predict how his feelings may change in the years to come. He clarified that I wasn’t mentioning stuff he didn’t want me mentioning, and then said he was cool with it. I then googled his name and was reassured to note that my blog was nowhere to be found among the results (which, interestingly, pointed me instead to some guy who starred in one movie back in 1997, and 12 faceless Facebook profiles). So. Here we go.
Mo on the same slide aged 1 and then 5
I recently read the following quote from a post by Glennon Doyle Melton (and,
so it’s clear when you get to it, Chase is the name of her eldest child):
But the thing is that every subsequent child I have feels less and less like a reflection of me. Chase is an upstanding citizen, officially. So I can push him out front of the family and say to the world: Look! I made at least one reasonable one. This child is proof that I can make decent people. As for the rest of these cats…well, I certainly cannot be held responsible for all of them. We call those two “free spirits.” This phenomenon is the reason the further a child is from firstborn the less and less neurotic she is. Because we parents aren’t trying to prove ourselves through them quite as desperately—so they’re freer to be themselves instead of mom and dad’s trophy. I think it was Kelly Ripa who said kids are like pancakes: you kinda screw up the first one but the rest turn out okay. Love you forever, Chase. Sorry about all that. “Smile and say hello, Chase. Eye contact please. Wipe your nose.” “But mom—Amma’s cursing and crawling across the street naked and she appears to have gotten yet another tattoo.” “Chase! Eye contact! Use your manners!”
It resonated. Poor Moses. I realised a couple of months ago that I’ve had (probably unfairly) high expectations of him, and that these mean I’ve sometimes been too busy noticing the little things (eye contact! manners!) that I’ve missed the fact that overall he’s a gorgeous kid: kind, sensitive, generous, sociable, articulate, thoughtful, energetic, creative, fun, and concerned for others. He recently said to me, “Thanks for doing that for me even though I could do it for myself, Mum.”
We’ve had a difficult year; school’s been a huge change for Mo, and it’s taken him a long time to settle in. For the first couple of terms, by Thursday evening each week he’d be so tired and over it he’d scream and yell and cry for hours, while we tried our best to stay patient and offer hugs and let him get all the bigness out. He’s calmed down a lot over the past few months, and these days, bouts of hurtfully-expressed feelings are followed by him coming, unprompted, and saying sorry. Mo’s overwhelmedness was probably exacerbated by the fact that his body was busily growing for all this time; when we cuddle his head now rests right over my heart. I recently looked online at kids’ clothes for the next size up and realised they featured zero diggers, tractors or cars, and looked like the kinds of things a man could wear. I cried

Mo joined a local soccer team this year, as well as playing daily at school (lunch time remains the highlight of his days) and often in the evenings in our backyard. Every time I play against him I’m running a little bit faster and trying a little bit harder to keep up. Earlier this year I thought we’d be well matched when he was a teenager; I’m now thinking he’ll probably be trouncing me by his next birthday.

Mo’s a thinker. He likes to understand why things are the way they are and struggles with things that don’t make any sense, like the lyrics to As Long As You Love Me by the Backstreet Boys, and the fact that black tops are allowed with navy blue jeans but not with navy blue tracksuit pants (“Jeans are just different, okay?” is an unsatisfactory explanation, apparently). 

He still loves Lego, and still prefers making up his own designs rather than building according to the instructions. He makes up stories about how his creations operate and why. This year his obsession has moved from Ninja Turtles to Star Wars; despite the fact that he’s never seen the movie, he was adamant that his birthday party be Star-Wars-themed. He sings to himself regularly, and makes up new songs. He likes listening to Richard Glover on the radio, and knows 702s number off by heart (he doesnt know mine, so will have to send a shout out through the ABC to contact me if he needs to). He recently mustered all of his Glover-ness to host a podcast called Mo Problems (Ive included the links to it at the end of this post).
He loves making people laugh, especially to distract them from whatever’s bothering them. If someone’s crying he’ll break out into an enthusiastic slapstick routine which generally leaves his audience either laughing (Hazel) or bemused (strangers at the park). At a café, he likes sitting next to me, not opposite me. He doesnt love having background music on at home. If there was an award for the fastest time it took to put a hole in the left knee of brand new pairs of pants, he’d win it, easily.

At Mo’s school their initial focus was on learning the sounds of letters so they could write (the theory seems to be that reading necessarily follows, whereas this doesn’t work the other way around). Its such a joy seeing him discovering the world of letters and numbers.
Writing’s not yet natural for him, whereas drawing pictures comes easily. This one expresses the fact that he’s sad (tears, frown) and angry (eyebrows, hands on hips, cranky words) that Hazel bit him (teeth) on the back (arrow), which was NOT COOL (big cross).

Moses and I have had far more time alone together this year than we’ve had since Hazel was born, which I’ve relished. During school holidays we make the most of our Hazel-free-ness (her preschool doesn’t take breaks) and head into the city to check out museums. On Monday or Tuesday afternoons before we pick up Hazel up, we go to a café for a lamington or hot chocolate. And in the evenings, now that Mo’s bedtime is later (7pm rather than 6:30pm), he reads to us and we play Trouble or Connect 4. He recently beat me at three Peppa Pig Guess Who games in a row; his very first question for one of those was “Are you Richard Rabbit?” and I was Richard Rabbit. (So was he, it turned out. We laughed for ages about that one.) 

Mos cackle is one of my favourite sounds in the whole world.

I love this kid.


Mo Problems episodes


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