Koala update: seven and a half

Did you hear the one about the kid that wanted to know everything about everything?

(Aside from Sid the Science Kid, which you’ve grown out of,) that’s… you.

I can’t wait to show you Wikipedia… and to catch you at 11pm with a flashlight under your covers reading in a Wikipedia spiral…

Huge milestone this past half-year: learning to dive. Much like everything else you care to try, you really dove deep into that one.

Trying over, and over, and over, (ima look!), and over, and over (ima look now!), and over until you really got it right.

Even when there was no water around…

You spent hard core quality time learning baseball with your grandpa and uncle. That’s four sports you’ve gotten into over the years.

This made me proud – you took this on, on your own. When we were busy, or asleep, or pretending to be asleep – you’d wake up, come down, and work a little bit more on your model airplane project. Minimal frustration makes a slightly more mature boy.

You started second grade, and I know you love it. I know, despite your token response ‘my favorite class is recess’ – I know you.

Learning is your favorite class.

On hope, afterlife, dreaming.

A couple months ago Koala and I had a ‘yom kef’ together and visited the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem, where a central feature is Ancient Egypt and of course, everyone’s favorite – the mummy.

We read the signs. the child-friendly materials, we saw the coffin, we saw pictures.

For a few weeks after that, Koala kept asking about it – how they died, why they stay like that, who are they.

 

And what’s up with afterlife?

For a few weeks he had been bringing up the possibility of afterlife again. He had thrown in bits and pieces about mashiach since school ended in June. When he does, I smile, I nod, I ignore, and I always – always – tighten up.

Why does it bother me so much? So many personal issues. So many specific peeves, built just for me, by me. Nearly 34 years in the making and still moving and making and coming to life.

Soon after, the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice happened. I woke up and saw the headline and felt ill, like everyone else. The details rolled in and at some point, I didn’t want to know any more. It’s too much. Families going to celebrate. Families mowed down.

That same day, he asked again – what happens in the afterlife? Is it real? Will we ever know? I tightened up as always but I loosened up just as quickly. It hit me, strong, like coffee – this is his time. His time to dream and wonder and think and, eventually, conclude. At seven years old, I also worshiped the thought of messiah, of afterlife. Who better than a child to dream and fantasize and hold on to eternal hope?

It felt better for me, and he held on to his questions, laid them out on the table, and we both wondered, together.

 

 

Koala update: seven years

Koala,

This was a great year – I loved going through age six with you.

The questions you ask. The interests you take on.

The requests you make, constantly, for an ‘iPhone, iPad, or even a computer.’

Uh huh.

Anyway, I can’t keep up with you. Here are (just) seven new things you learned to do this year:

1. Swim

It was clear you had matured enough to try this out; we just weren’t sure at five if you would handle it. But this year it’s been a total pleasure cheering on as you tackle this. You bonded with your swim teacher and left any kind of fear in your trail. Maybe the best part is, you know you have to keep going and that great skill doesn’t come in five weeks.

2. Education

This is my absolute favorite. Watching you navigate through first grade has been inspiring, nostalgic and a lot of fun. I realize how lucky we are – you’re the kind of kid born to go to traditional school. You’ve played a role in getting your younger sister excited about the prospect of learning math, reading and writing.

Probably all the candy you get at your Israeli school helps with that, too.

Anyway – my absolutely favorite part of the year has been sitting by you while you learn to write, learn to read – in two languages.

You’ve taken a serious and oftentimes freaky interest in math – like the time you just walked on over to us with this piece of paper where you had just casually scribbled out some math problems we had no idea you were even capable of recognizing.

3. Computers

This helps redeem the fact that you incessantly ask us for an ‘iPhone, a computer and an iPad.’ I don’t even know why you know what an iPhone is (I mean, I do, schoolfriendsolderkidsparents) but I do admire your drive to attain one or all of these items by saving money you get instead of spending it on crap.

Anyway – yes – computers. They’ve taken a backseat to the smartphone you’re always snatching from me behind my back… but become familiar with them. I wouldn’t be sorry if you went into hi tech.

4. Jokes

I know we are your parents and will support you in (most) things you do, and your father and I are pretty ridiculous and laugh at the dumbest sh-stuff… but you jokes range from ‘eh’ to insane person and keep it coming. That stuff takes practice. At least you crack your friends up.

5. Negotiation

When you were younger, tantruming, and frankly, kind of intolerable, I used to put my hands on your heaving shoulders, look you in your red crazy eyes, and tell you: instead of this, try negotiating with me.

A few times it clicked and you’d pause from your outburst and ask me what negotiating is. And I’d tell you. But you didn’t try it on the spot.

Maybe it got through to you when there was money at stake, though. Your letter to the tooth fairy says it all.

6. Wanting to know how things work 

You ask to try new things, to learn more about the kinds of things we adults do, or to understand how certain things work. You get that from your dad, the guy who watched one repairman fix the window blinds once and from then on not only fixes them himself, but also goes over to fix other people’s when the mood strikes.

And it’s awesome for us since we’ve been getting some coffee out of it.

 

7. Become a more affectionate big brother

When I started putting this together you had two younger sisters, now you have three. That’s a lot of sisters – way more than I ever had.

You’re doing a good job of it, Koala.

I can’t speak from experience but I can hope that you continue to cherish the affectionate relationship you have with them, and nurture that side of yourself.

That will take you far in relationships one day.

 

 

Who’s on first?!

“it’s very exciting! it means they won all the games they had to win so they get to the World Series.”

“what’s world series?”

“when they play the last seven games against the other team and the team that wins the most, which is four, wins the whole thing.”

“why seven?”

“I dunno. it’s best out of seven. the most games out of seven, which is four games.”

“why four?”

“because four is more than three which make seven.”

“but why don’t they just play all seven?”

“because they don’t need to once they’ve won four.”

“but why not just play seven?”

“because they don’t HAVE to, they know they’ve won…”

“but I don’t understand, why just four?”

“because four is more than half of seven!!”

“but why not play all of them?”

“BECAUSE IT COSTS TOO MUCH MONEY. IT’S TOO MUCH MONEY. TO PLAY MORE GAMES THAN YOU NEED TO JUST DOESN’T MAKE FINANCIAL SENSE.”

Ballad of the backpack begins.

It’s the night before first grade starts. I guess I’ve lived through multiple (somewhere around 30+) of these nights, but this one is different.

By my front door there’s a Spiderman backpack filled with lined notebooks… clear plastic book covers… pencils…

Everything is still innocent. Everything is still fresh-faced and calm. Bracing for the change.

And 12 hours before school starts, we got our first panicked –

“But I don’t wanna go…”

Koala update: six years

Six years – six years a force in my life, six years a mom. Six years old, Koala. Six means:

  • you are going to first grade in four months
  • you are asking a lot of questions but answering a lot of mine
  • this is the last Koala Update I write before you will begin to know how to read.

On your birthday this year, I’m offering six things to take with you, to hold close, as you finish your last year in kindergarten and begin your journey through grade school.

1. With great curiosity, comes great – why do plants have roots, Ima? 

Here’s how much curiosity you are packed with: In the time it takes your sister to get dressed, teeth brushed, shoes on, hair done, waiting at the top of the stairs for you, you have one – yes, just one – leg through your underpants. The reason, without fail, is because you have been into space and back, and have prepared a list of completely unconnected questions to ask right now in this moment. The moment between when the first leg goes in the underwear, before the second one does.

I wouldn’t trade that for the world, but I would implore that perhaps you look deep inside yourself and find the capability to multitask just a little so we get to school on time next year.

2. Get your hands dirty and make mistakes

This past year, I taught you what a pencil eraser is for. Through your tears and sweat of frustration, you saw the logic in this technology and you used it with vigor. I also introduced you to white out – once – because you had drawn a great picture but realized you couldn’t find a solution for the marker mistakes.

The thing about erasers and white out, is, they don’t turn back time, and they don’t leave a blank slate. Mistakes will always be made, and things will get blemished. But are we worse for the wear? This is what growing up is about – we experience, we became a little more full and also a little blemished.

The cuts and scrapes on your knees will tell a story for days to come. You may or may not have a scar on your face from a friendly fight – another experience to pocket.

You struggle with out-of-order and imperfection but hopefully you will come to see there is really no order, and perfection can be found in just that.

3. Use that big head and be proactive

  

In the last few months, there are two modes: the days when you assume you’ve got some kind of blue blood, and others where you’re begging to help around the house.

We’ve grabbed the reigns of the latter and have let you/told you to aspire to help, to do your share, to take care of your sisters, to lead by example.

Guess what? That’s only going to become more of a theme here. Our family grew. Both of your parents have full time jobs. And more than anyone who lives in this residence, you leave your stuff scattered around in organized yet haphazard piles throughout the house.

Now grab a broom.

4. Be kind to the people who love you 

While I remember the day you were born like it was yesterday, your sister worships every day she spends with you. I promise you – this will not last forever. And you don’t need me to tell you that in the last half year she has mustered up quite some sass – it’s no longer a one-way street. And that’s natural, and that’s good. And it will make for a much better sparring partner throughout the years.

Please, Koala. Please be kind to the people who love you. I work on it myself as I say this to you. Let’s get better at this together. It’s a fleeting thing in siblings, trust me. You may never know unconditional love from a peer like you have right now from Bebe.

5. There’s only so much I can give you, but it’s a lot  

Here’s an example of something I haven’t thought about in decades: elementary school. And it’s slowly creeping up on me that suddenly I will be thinking about it a lot more.

It’s where I painstakingly learned Hebrew. And multiplication. And what cliques are.

So, yeah, the thought of you entering the jungle with a few pencils and a Spiderman backpack completely freaks me out.

Is this a do-over for me? Absolutely not. I think the most I can do is encourage you and support you and be there for you as you trek through this stage of childhood.

6. Let it all out 

You know this already, but I don’t hesitate to say it again. There’s no sound in the world like when you laugh.

When you really laugh.

When the funny thing you heard or saw or thought or said has gone deep inside you, planted roots, those roots started tickling your insides, and your whole respiratory system is now erupting in laughter.

So you know how to let it all out. What I want you to try is to let it all out even when you’re not 100% comfortable. It won’t always be comfortable, but there will always be cause for feeling free.

There’s nothing about you to hold back, Koala. We’re always here, waiting for whatever you have next. Just let it out.

Koala update: five and a half years

It would be an understatement to say it’s been a hectic half a year. But it hasn’t been too busy not to notice what a big kid you’ve become.

You’ve taken to Nettles as a big brother does; you’ve bonded even more with Bebe even if you do bicker a bit more (a testament to her communication skills, to your opening even more space to let her have valid feelings and actions).

The week you learned checkers, you taught your sister checkers. That might have been the best part of your enthusiasm.

You get down on the ground to see the world the way the baby does.

You can’t stop writing and drawing. Copying any words you see, in English or Hebrew. Drawing the characters in your mind, whether pirates or rocket ships.

You learn from everyone around you. The yoga thing definitely stuck.

You are fascinated by how things work, by making things work. Including your uncle’s PhD robotics work.

You’re – well, we’ll call it resourceful. I can’t throw anything away without you inspecting it first. Maybe there’s something you can do with it. Maybe you’ll save it for a rainy day. Or a paper pool.

You know who is dear to you. There are friends, and then there are friends. You treat them well. After initial caution, you’re sensitive. You share a little better. You laugh a lot. You love them close.

Koala update: Ten months.

Koala is ten months old and both his life and mine are starting to fall into place.

While Koala does not sleep through the night at this point, he does have a bedtime and he does collapse into it every night, for which I’m grateful. Having a routine is not one of my fortes, but it does mean knowing at a certain time of night we can commence the next part of the day (working from home, eating dinner, cleaning up) while Koala soundly sleeps in another room.

And, yes, I do a lot of nursing overnight. I’ve pretty much always nursed on demand and being away from each other for 8 hours of the day might mean more frequent night feedings, and I’m ok with it… to a point.

On the flip side, Koala has managed to find himself in a situation where his four upper front teeth are coming in at the same time. Is that like having triplets, where it’s really painful but you get ’em all out of the way at once? It’s actual torture to watch (though it’s worse to go through, surely). Two of the teeth are in and two have just cracked.

But it’s not all teeth and sleep over here…

This month, Koala decided to buck up and walk some. A few Thursdays ago I was working from home and Koala was kvetching for attention. He’s at the point where I can’t work on my laptop sitting on the couch because he stands up, leans over and presses the keys (and closes programs!). So I looked around to find something new to distract him with and voila! In the corner was the lawn mower-esque walker we got when he was born, then dismissed as a present useful only in The Future.

The Future was this past month, because for fun I stood Koala up and put his hands on the handle and guided him while holding him steady. We took a few steps together, which was nice and patronizing (apparently). I let him sit back down and went off to get the camera because I thought a photo of him leaning on it could be nice for the grannies, but when I got back he was walking with the walker. By himself. Like a drunk person. But still.

Within a few days he was going from couch to coffee table to potted plant to couch. Anything that can be pushed (and makes a scrape noise against the tiles) is fair game as mode of transport. Koala is on the go.

So, yes, now there are plenty of photos and videos portraying thanks mama but I can do it myself.

In other news, Koala fell in love with a blue balloon that still limply floats through my salon, covered in drool, dust and some kind of white balloon decay.

Also, I’m pretty sure he’s learning to pose for pictures.