Friday, August 15, 2014

What I don't want to forget about us this summer.

My last post was sort of negative.  I never meant to leave it on that note for so long, because while negative things happen to us--and to every family--it is just a sliver of our life.  We deal with it as it comes.  We move on.  And a lot of the time, when it is Charlie-stuff, it is me who was the one so tied up in knots all along.  The kids have been playing with the neighbor boy all summer, and yesterday I was realizing how the four of them have knit together during their hours of play.  Charlie is just one of the gang.  

I am so busy, posting here is difficult to do.  But this is where so many of our family stories are logged.  I never want to forget, you know?  So, here's what I don't want to forget about Summer 2014:

This summer has been really fun.  Challenging as always with three boys who want to be BOYS 24/7. But also glorious, fun, special.

Calvin.  I will start with him.  Our middle child, sandwiched between two very compelling people. But this guy... he is not ever lost.  He is so much like his daddy, I think, in personality and purpose.  He is a leader, and every day learning what it means to be that (like his daddy).  I see him caring about his brothers well being, assessing the environment and their ability to be in it safely.  Really.  He is a wise little soul.  Hey, I mean, other times, not so much.  But he is 6!  He is filled with confidence.  He is kind and positive and exhausting all at once.  His mind never stops.  Calvin's ideas spill out of his mouth with no filter.  Oh Calvin.  I wish every day I could be 100% "on" for this guy.  Indulge his every curiosity.  I'm sure of the 3, I fail him the most.  He is so brilliant, and sometimes, I am tired and dim.  But we try, don't we buddy?  And he is growing so much.  Becoming so much.  This summer for Calvin has been about playing with neighborhood buddies and brothers, tempering his exuberance and focusing on improvisation in the lazy schedule of a foggy summer.  It has been about conquering fears and trying new things, and doing all the wild things a boy should be doing.  It's been about making new friends, and deepening his relationship with his brothers.  Calvin sees things through with integrity, however forced it is sometimes, he does the right thing.  I respect this guy a great deal.  And I love him and I am proud of him.

At my sister's wedding this June. 
Yep.  That is Miles at my feet.
Then there is Charlie.  I named this blog "Charlie's Up To" never knowing that the phrase would become one often said in family life: "Calvin, what's Charlie up to?" or "Mooooommmmm!  Charlie's up to stuff he's not supposed to dooooo!"  He is amazing, you guys.  I think one big advantage of having a child with a special need is actually the unknown.  Unknown is something I used to fear, until I started to realize, that's all we have with our kids.  Any of them.  We don't have all these expectations of Charlie just waiting to check them off the list.  It's not that we do not have high hopes for him--not at all.  We just give him our very best, and then watch what he does with it.  So every accomplishment, every change, is so exciting.  He is writing his own story.  He is teaching us that we need to let our other boys write their own story.  And for me, what a gift to see that play our right in front of us.

A big focus this summer has been
working toward putting faces
in the water during swimming lessons.

Charlie is always up to something.  I think in this way he takes after my Grandpa Paul, of whom everyone said loved to "tinker".  Charlie loves to tinker, too.  He loves to create.  He loves to be busy with a task.  If he doesn't have a task, he thinks one up.   He's the kind of guy who can look at a mess of items and see potential for a masterpiece.  Charlie is going places, and he is up to things.  And I love him and am so proud of him.

Oh Miles.  His middle name, Benjamin, in hebrew is the equivalent of "my boy".  And he is my boy.  He's kind of all our boy, and the big brothers tuck him under their wing the same as Ray and I do.    Age three has proven a challenging year.  Oh my.  I would not want to be three from the looks of it.  It seems hard.  He is in this weird place where he does not understand time, but he can anticipate, and so his world is this weird never-know-when-something-is-going-to-happen kind of place.  I think this is much more difficult in the free flowing non-schedule of summer.  At the same time, he is also growing up so much.  Miles is a bit shy, but has a brilliant presence.  He in known to enter a room with a Super Hero stance yelling, "I will save your day!"  A couple weeks back we were making introductions at church, and Miles jumps to strike a pose, fists in the air, and says, "I'm Miles!  Awesome Possum!"  Where did we get this guy?  I think of my three boys, Miles takes after me the most.  He is sensitive, imaginative, sometimes very unsure.  Where Calvin was always moving out and away in discovery, Miles tends to press in, to take a hand.  It is so wonderful to have a variety of personalities.  Charlie and Miles are very well matched play partners these days.  Both so willing to jump right in to each other's fantasies.  Miles is growing, and showing us who he is as a person this summer.  And I love him and am so proud of him.

What about the grown ups? You know, Ray and I have felt a little baseless for years, really.  I had just become pregnant with Charlie when I was graduating college, and in a way, it feels like we are still in the limbo of changed plans. Whatever they were.  Actually, Ray does not struggle with this as much as I do.  He is solid.  Dedicated.  And he seems to find meaning and purpose in whatever his hands are set to do.  But I'm sort of a case, you guys.  I never feel like I'm Home.  I think growing roots, in my mind, takes a certain medium that I haven't felt that we have had.  Last summer we took a trip to my home town.  Sitting on a dock by the lake, I was hoping so much to feel it.  To feel Home there.  But I was just different.  My town had grown up without me.  And I have grown up, too.  I started to realize, my roots are growing.  They are growing here, on the coast, in the fog, in the clay.  We have everything we need.  

So, in light of all of that, and our ongoing hope of finding and creating Home, Ray continues to work for his family's electrical business.  What lovely roots we have grown through our continued involvement in this family enterprise.  He has also recently accepted the opportunity to become more deeply involved with a beautiful congregation just down the road in town.  Roots.  His band, a second family-- Huckleberry Flint--just played again in Humboldt's Folk Life Festival to an adoring and enduring crowd of local fans.  Roots.  We have spent a lovely Summer with days up at Auntie Kassi's family ranch, splashing in the creek, riding quads, tire swinging from huge Bay trees.  Roots.  We have played long hours with friends and neighbors. Roots.  I have planted and harvested a garden, and am planting again for fall.  Roots.  We have invested our time and enjoyment in our lovingly provided rental home in Raymond's childhood neighborhood.  Roots.

I don't know if I will ever feel Home, because I think as a person I am bound to be a little baseless.  But I feel close to it.  Tentative.  But close.  And I am so thankful that my sweet Lord has had patience to bring me in to the middle of where I already was.  That I can rest where he places me.  Invest where he has me--even if I don't "own" it.  Even if I'm not confident.

So, that's it.  That's Summer 2014 with three boys all up to something, and a mom and a dad finding newness in the 'same old, same old'.  I think I'm pretty lucky to be along for the ride.  Sure, I keep the peace, tend to needs, and keep the house clean (ish), but that is all so small a price to pay for the best seat in the house.  To watch 3 brilliant lives unfold right in front of me.  To watch a family grow up, and grow deep.  It's been a nice Summer, I'd say.

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