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ten

2015 January 14
by Rachel Turiel

cbday
Recently, I bought a package of balloons to conduct a science experiment, and the very presence of these balloons, bouncing around the house, has reduced the kids into loud, noun-limited toddlers (waking up, pointing and shouting “balloon!” and pouncing on the floating orbs).

“Wow, they’re really ramped up over those balloons,” I told Dan one night, wincing as balloon-batting bodies crashed into each other.

And then we laughed, because really, of all the things these kids will someday become ramped up over, I’m highly comforted that buoyant latex blimps still make the list.

You see, Col just turned ten and I’m stockpiling evidence that everything’s going to be OK. Maybe it’s the double digits, or the decadeness, or the fact that more than half of his childhood has poofed away in a cloudsmoke of memories, and it seems inevitable that this second half will include less, well, balloons.

c bdy2

I woke up recently with a panic knocking around in my heart. It was like one of those ubiquitous anxiety dreams where you’re about to teach a class except, whoops, you’re wearing a Shirley Temple wig and forgot your pants…but it was actually this notion that I wanted to be surrounded by small people forever, but whoops, I forgot to have more children.

And really, I only ever wanted these two exact children. But I had no idea back when I was leaned up against a tree at the park, Rose clamped to my nipple (her default position until age 2) and Col toddling off to stick his starfish hands in some dog’s jowly mouth, how quickly they would accumulate years to their bodies, like accessories, like geological layers. I had no clue that the artifacts of their childhoods—board books, tiny knitted hats, baby teeth, mispronounced words—would chunk off into mental midden piles I’m left to curate.

col bday7

Getting personal information out of Col is a tentative business, but his main currency of communication remains the 4-limbed wrap-around morning snuggle. This very morning, he proclaimed sleepily, “I love you and your husband,” and yet I still haven’t found the conversational key to unlock an unfettered sharing. At ten, he’s stepping into new independent territory. I can’t kiss him in front of his friends. Last fall he went on a 2-night trip with his friend Mathew and he still refers to it like some poignant symbol of liberation, the way some people will always regard Rosa Parks’ bus ride.

c bday

Around any family birthday, I find myself feeling that we’ve reached such a lovely intersection of our collective four lives, that I could settle in right here for a long time, feeling a tiny bit beleaguered but mostly incredibly lucky.

And yet (didn’t you want there to be an “and yet?”), there is joy in this inching forward, in the way Col and Rose are becoming more of themselves, like protagonists in a book whose character gets more revealed over time, whom you love with a deeper, more complex understanding as the chapters progress. And to spend too much time lingering over their bygone childhoods would be to miss the sun shining fiercely on our lives right now. This will always be true.

cbday5

Setting up the great rocket launch 2015. Previous rocket launch here, just to prove how fast time flies

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5-4-3-2-1

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Running to retrieve the fallen rocket.

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The verdict.

Col and I recently took a field trip to the Animas Air Park, a small private airport where we like to troll around, Col pointing out high wing singles and other notables. He indulged me briefly in some hand-holding and then pointed at the small yellow plane descending. “That’s extra loud, probably a 12-seater,” Col said. We watched the plane bounce out of the sky, rolling out a perfect landing, 12 exact seats revealed.

I think about how I want connection through expression, through feelings, through hold my hand and tell me everything. But, as usual, my children’s personalities are not for me to orchestrate so that every interaction falls under a heading I’ve pre-approved. Rather, I get to stand by as they lift off and soar, as they come in for landings, sometimes shaky and awkward, sometimes crashing. But this connection—me and my ten year old son gazing into the blue Colorado sky, not saying much—is real and true and blessed and now.

Related posts:

A girl turns three
Before the kiss
home again home again jiggity jig


16 Responses leave one →
  1. Laurel Foster permalink
    January 14, 2015

    Hi Rachel,
    How wonderful Col turning ten – that is big time! I am so glad to read your blog, I really love it, it always makes me cry and then laugh, which is what I like to do, in that order!

  2. January 14, 2015

    10?10! Wow. Happy belated birthday Col.

    Your writing, as always, is breathtaking. It’s the bright and magical spot on this otherwise dull and gloomy winter day.

  3. Jan permalink
    January 14, 2015

    I’m just going to say ditto to what Justine said. Your writing, breathtaking.

  4. Natalie permalink
    January 14, 2015

    Tear jerker. Oh Rachel, how good you are for us all. Wrapping up this childhood movie in just the right words. Sigh.

  5. Meredith permalink
    January 14, 2015

    Beautiful writing, Rachel…. As per usual! It is a joy to read your words. Xo

  6. nan permalink
    January 14, 2015

    You kill me with your words. Beautiful. A very happy belated birthday Col.

  7. January 14, 2015

    Rachel, this is one of my favourite pieces of writing ever! I wish my comment was equally eloquent, but I can just say how much I love this graceful balance between feeling and perspective, between finding the right word and being fully inside it all, right now. Plus how much Col is lovable (and so are you). Happy birth-day to you both (and Dan – and Rose).

    xo

  8. Melissa permalink
    January 15, 2015

    Another one of my favourite posts! Laughter, delight and tears!

    I just love this… “becoming more of themselves, like protagonists in a book whose character gets more revealed over time, whom you love with a deeper, more complex understanding as the chapters progress.”

    Best to all of you!

  9. Rachel Turiel permalink*
    January 15, 2015

    Thank you, each of you, for all your sweet comments. xo

  10. melissa permalink
    January 15, 2015

    Rachel, this is exquisite. May we use it on our pp support group web site? You capture so beautifully the passage of time, the desire to cling to the past, and also the gift of staying in the present moment with your children, no matter what stage/situation. Let me know what you think. Our website is http://www.whrc.ucsf.edu/whrc/gex/afterglow.html. We are revising it for a new group that starts next week.

    Sending lots of love, xoxo

    • Rachel Turiel permalink*
      January 16, 2015

      Of course, Melissa. I’d be honored. xo

  11. carrie-anne permalink
    January 16, 2015

    your killing me..
    really beautiful
    i feel ya
    I’m with ya
    xx carrie-anne

  12. Chi-An permalink
    January 16, 2015

    Happy birthday Col! And thank you, Rachel, for crystallizing your thoughts into such a beautiful, soul-stirring package. xoxo

  13. January 16, 2015

    TEN. Unimaginable!

    As for Col, I hope he is as pleased with the double digits as I remember being when I turned 10.

  14. Andrea permalink
    January 19, 2015

    Ten. Happy birthday to an awesome dude. And happy birth-day to you, mama.

  15. January 20, 2015

    What a lovely post!

    We just moved here ourselves. I was wondering if you are still a part of a homeschooling co-op. I’m not sure where to find out about others who are homeschooling here. Thank you!

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