Sometimes in Austin, we like like to do things with equal dashes of creativity and pretension. Case and point: the children’s museum is called The Thinkery. It’s a great Austin-y name. I like it, but I can see how it can be a “little much” for some people. We’ve been to the Thinkery many times since it’s opening. Jude loves going. He already starts planning in the car ride what he wants to do first and his whole plan of attack. Today was Fox’s first chance to enjoy the Thinkery. The last time I brought him, he was still mostly in the stroller while we did everything that Jude wanted to do.
Today, the Thinkery truly lived up to its name. Jude was so inspired, that he came home to create his own version of the Thinkery for his little brother. I wish I had taken a picture. It would mostly look like a mess-plosion in the living room, but you would have seen all the elements of the museum present. The train, the video wall of faces, the baby room, the building blocks. Jude even had volunteers staffing his Thinkery (a stuffed Charlie Brown doll) and was offering free admission for Museum Day (and a really reasonable pricing structure…$0.01 for anyone 67 and under…he wanted to make sure his Mimi made the cut).
Overall, it was a great family outing. Those boys played so hard. They were doing some intense thinking and exploring. So, I believe “The Thinkery” is quite possibly the best name ever!
My heart has felt very heavy this week. I’ve been carrying around two little boys me all week. Two little boys frozen in time. Two little boys I don’t even know. Two little boys who drowned and washed ashore last week in Turkey: Aylan and Galip Kurdi. I debated with myself whether I really wanted to write this post. It seems almost selfish to write a post about my perceptions as I sit here comfortably in my home in America, but I wanted to share something about how I was affected by their lives and their deaths.
I was very unprepared for the images of little Aylan, the younger of the two brothers and the subject of the photos that were published. I had been listening to the news stories on NPR during the latter part of last week, and come home Friday night to continue reading the story online. And then I saw the pictures.
I had an immediate and visceral response to them. I cried. I cried hard. I cried hard, alone in my room, for a solid 30 minutes. Because when I saw the pictures, I saw my own little boys. Little velcro shoes. Little boy clothes. But all wrong; the context was all wrong. My motherly arms longed to reach into the screen in scoop that little boy up. I longed to hold him close to my heart. I could simultaneously feel the weight and the void in my arm span.
Then I imagined myself in their place. When faced with all that was going on in Syria, I could see myself coming to the same conclusion. I would need to protect my family and get them out of there, at all costs. I could not fathom the soul-splitting pain that father felt as every thing he loved quite literally slipped from his grasp. It felt as if there was an intercontinental echo, in which his pain reverberated within my consciousness.
I cried for their whole family. I couldn’t help but feel the shrieking injustice that because of no special skill, talent, or inherent goodness on my part that I don’t have to endure that pain. Simply the pure luck that I was born and live in a country where I don’t have to make those kind of choices: whether I will stay in place where death would surely find my my family or embark on an equally dangerous journey to escape that fate. It’s like a cubist painting, where you can look at all the different sides and angles at once and they are all painful. Every facet is equally terrible: the human tragedy, the parental loss, the lack of choices.
I don’t know how to make sense of something so bad. I have nothing to offer in the way how I am supposed to make this world better or what actions I can take. So I’ve decided that I will keep them with me. When I hug my two boys, I am also hugging two boys I never met. I will pause for Aylan and Galip, instead of moving on quickly to the next thing that will “take my mind off of things.” I will let my mind linger on two ordinary little boys, and those who are in similar situations. Instead of looking away from the tragedy, I will look into the eye of what is actually happening in our world. I will bear it.
Fourteen months of pure baby Mitchy awesome! Fox love to run and has learned how to climb on the couch and use the stepstool to get on our bed. He could do the circuit of climb up-get down for 30 minutes straight; its endlessly rewarding for him. He loves to watch Curious George with his brother in the morning and much to Jude’s chagrin, he loves turning off the tv even more. Fox sleeps in his crib (at least half the night) which makes him seem like such a big boy to me. He loves to run to his daddy when he comes home from work. He’s very curious about how it would feel to pull Liam’s ears, but Liam is pretty spry and makes sure that Fox won’t find out.
Fox loves to be pushed in his cozy coupe. He still wants to be held a lot during the day. He loves his Mimi…even when he hasn’t seen her in a while, he still prefers to be in her arms when she comes. Fox gives the best snuggles. He laughs and babbles, but still hasn’t said his first official word. Baths are still his favorite time of day and he loves to run around the house naked. He’s recently started wearing shoes. They’ve caused him to clumsier and more off-balance, but this week he has had lots of improvement. He likes the shoes because that means he can have more freedom to walk around and explore when we are out and about. We had lunch at Maria’s Taco Express and he was content to follow grackles and hit the dance floor with his older brother.
Jude started 2nd grade this year. It really seems like 2nd grade is different than 1st or Kinder; it just seems like a “big kid grade.” At Jude’s school, he is on a totally different hallway. He even needed earbuds this year, as part of his school supply list.
Jude is such a pro now. He didn’t want Joe or me to walk him to class on the first day of school, but of course we insisted. I told him that we at least need pictures. The last two years there were still a few tears on the first day of school, but this year it was nothing but confidence. We even have a picture of little brother, Fox, making the classroom drop-off trek that morning.
Jude has his lucky birthday this year; he turned 7 years old on the 7th day of the 7th month. We had a family celebration on 4th of July, so Tuesday was just our special day to spend with Jude. He wanted to go swimming at the East Communities YMCA, since they have a cool pirate ship and waterslides. We ended the day with dinner and video games at GattiTown.
We tried to incorporate some simple things that would make his day feel special, since we weren’t doing the whole “cake and party” thing. In anticipation of his big day, we told Jude his birthday was a “yes” day…anything within reason would be a yes. Snack from the vending machine: yes. Skip a bath: yes. Stay up late: yes. Jude likes when we make a crepe-paper “spiderweb” over the door, so that on his birthday morning he can karate-chop his way out of the room. So, the night before, Jude helped me set-up his birthday web.
Seven years slipped away deceptively fast. Jude is really evolving into this very curious, intelligent, goofy, head-strong boy. I love when he’s telling me something and he adds the phrase “as well.” I like when he geeks out about his games and gets really excited to tell Joe and I about something he has accomplished or when he talks while playing games, like his has a game play YouTube channel. I like that he makes up songs, like Joe and I do. I like that he still wants me to watch him jump off things. He still slips his hand into mine if I offer it when crossing the street or parking lot.
I take pride in over-planning my children’s birthdays, but this year I just couldn’t get it together. I was worn out from work and it seemed like there wasn’t a magical weekend in July that everyone could attend and that would give me more time to plan. So, pretty much 3 days before, we decided to just invite Joe’s family over to the house and do a double July birthday (Fox and Jude). I had dubbed it the “Fox of Jude-ly.”
Fox did spectacular. Of course, having a lot of people in the house at once was surprising for him, but eventually adjusted. He got to show off his walking skills and had his first birthday cupcake. He ended up taking a really long nap later in the evening, so we decided to take him to the fireworks show, and he loved it.
Food, pinatas, presents. It was a great day. Jude really enjoyed having his older cousins in the house to play video games with. As far as parties go, it was our most laid back. Of course, there was a part of me that wanted to make the cakes, and wanted to get really cute Etsy invites, and make some theme of the whole day, but I gotta learn to let that go. The important stuff all happened: spending time with family and celebrating the boys.