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2016 January 11
by Rachel Turiel

Every morning I sit at the kitchen table with an alarming level of gratitude for coffee, while gazing out at the two crab apple trees we planted when Col was just a wobbly ride-along. These trees are the very definition of dynamic. In spring they erupt into a pink riot of petaled fluff. Next, a prolific hatch of shiny green leaves fool me into believing in permanence. In fall, the trees flare with color. And now, in January, they’re bare, slicked with snow.


The children are like this, too, their own mysterious seasons spiraling them out into ever-new incarnations, parts of them continually blooming and withering before our widened eyes.

Col burrowed in bed with me a few days ago, and I blurted that I loved not only his ten year old self right this minute, but all the versions of boy he had ever been.

He became interested in these variants on the theme of himself, each now as unimaginable as a herd of fanciful extinct animals galloping across the page of a children’s book.

There was the two year old Col who pilfered bottles of his grandma’s forbidden vitamins, tearing through the house shouting, “Uh oh! UH OH!” much like the criminal who turns himself in preemptively, just for, you know, the fun of it.

Or, the five year old Col who’d rise regularly at 5am, gaze outside and announce wistfully, “That’s morning star. I’m in love with her.”

col's bday5

col's bday4

I like to think of all these renditions smoldering inside the internal compost pile of our selves. Into the pile goes the mischievous toddler, the poetic five year old, and the seven year old who regularly searched for snakes in a patch of backyard soapwort, recording pertinent scientific data: “no snaks faund.” I will never glimpse each self so clearly again, and yet they all still exist in some essential, molecular way.

It’s so crazy, this time passing. Even eight year old Rose, on New Year’s Eve, said, “2015 just went by so fast.” I don’t tell her what it’s like for parents, watching kids shed layers like snakes, blithely leaving behind their latest, cast-off skin, the one that contained Rose’s concern that if she put a box elder bug outside in the cold snow it would become isolated. (Ice-o-lated?) If I could, I’d make the kids sign a binding agreement stating that they’ll always love playing at parks, snuggling with parents, and will forever go to bed at the same time in their bunkbeds, so I can kiss them, flip off the light and know that everything that matters is in that room, safe and accessible.


But really, what can we do but love all the iterations of our children, and then meet them on the path of today, because that is where we all reside. Time ticks forward despite our devotion to the past, or our beliefs that any particular stage was best, easiest, most fun. Snow falls, then melts, all the way to the next flush of May blooms in the crab apple. There is no better way to appreciate these growing children, no matter the age, than to be here noticing and celebrating this particular curve in the ever-widening spiral.

Happy birthday to my 11-year old boy.

col's bday2

Col, at his 11th birthday party, held in the air by his Uncle Ben of the ohana* variety.

col's bday6

Shabbat candles masquerading as birthday candles because nobody was willing to go to the store for trip #836 of the week. 
col's bday3

  • Part of Hawaiian culture, ʻohana means family in an extended sense of the term, including blood-related, adoptive or intentional. (This is one of our family’s greatest treasures).



18 Responses leave one →
  1. Ring Stafford permalink
    January 11, 2016

    Happy Birthday, Col!!!

  2. Becky permalink
    January 11, 2016

    Happy Birthday COL. If today is your actual birthday we call that your Golden Birthday as you are the same age as the day of the month! I have loved watching you grow up
    Becky in NC

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      January 11, 2016

      His birthday is January 9th – so he’ll have to wait until 99 for the next golden birthday. :)
      Thanks for the birthday wishes.

  3. January 11, 2016

    This is just gorgeous, Rachel. Ode and elegy for the life filled years of childhood.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      January 12, 2016

      So sweet. So intense. So fleeting. Childhood. Sigh. xo

  4. Tara permalink
    January 11, 2016

    Beautiful and deep, Rachel. I love how you can distill these parenting sensations so eloquently.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      January 12, 2016

      I love living it with you.

  5. January 11, 2016

    So amazing, as all your posts and observations are! And the photos are so joyous, too. I am always telling my 4 year old to stop growing up and stay my sweet little boy, and this week he responded by shrugging his little shoulders and saying “I can’t help it. It’s my fault!”

  6. Ellen permalink
    January 11, 2016

    Beautiful loving extended family of good friends. So fortunate for Col and you all.

  7. Sara permalink
    January 11, 2016

    Again, I’m glad our lives are in parallel because you write about it (so well) and I get to read it and agree, contemplate, appreciate. I noticed the yoyo too. My youngest is earnestly learning from dad.

  8. Anonymous permalink
    January 11, 2016

    Happy birthday Col. Love you so much

  9. Andrea permalink
    January 11, 2016

    No way he is 11 when he JUST turned 10. 2015 really did go by fast. (Que tiny violin and ohana* mama sniffles)

    Thank you for sharing him with us.

    *I assume there is a modern interpretation of Ohana that includes distant Internet ‘friend’ moms. If not, I am defining that here.

  10. January 11, 2016

    I feel similarly drawn to these multiple, unique incarnations of Col… how wonderful that they are still part of him – thank you for sharing them with us!

    Happy Birthday and every following day, Col! Enjoy the snow and your ohana family :o)


    ps – I happen to be in love with the morning star, too, though I mostly gaze at her when she’s appearing at dusk, not far from the horizon. Isn’t it great that she is both the earliest and the latest star, and actually a planet? Dear Venus… Keep shining your hopeful message to five-years old and all.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      January 12, 2016

      Emanuelle, of the e-ohana, you always leave such beautiful comments. Thank you.

  11. carrie-anne permalink
    January 13, 2016

    Feeling this so very much..
    just this week just innate and honestly sad that 12 is no longer my little –at all>>>>>
    thrilled to meet the new
    but shit
    xxxhappy bday to your sweet boy

  12. carrie-anne permalink
    January 13, 2016

    in awe not innate–darn spell check

  13. January 28, 2016

    Once again, so beautifully written, Rachel.

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