Archive for the ‘Sylvan Says’ Category

Happy Birthday, Sylvan: 7 7/12!

Posted by julie on Saturday, 13 April 2013, 20:25

Sylvan hanging in Hawai’i on a great family beach, Beach 69 in Kohala, on the Big Island.

Dear Sylvan,

You’re 91 months old! I remember figuring out when I would be 100 months old. If you don’t bring it up first, I’ll tell you next January. You’ll ask for cinnamon rolls to celebrate, because, hey, it’s an excuse to have sugar!

Last spring, at just about this time, we met with your Kindergarten teacher, Miss Polly, who suggested that you be tested for skipping a grade. Even though you were old for your grade, we hadn’t considered this. As the evidence mounted—who you played with on the playground, your math scores, your September birthday, your reading skills—it just made sense. So, with some consideration, we decided, along with your teacher, that you should enter 2nd grade this year. It turned out to be a very good choice for you. The academics are a good fit for you, and you have a gentle, calm teacher, Miss Laura, who’s helped you become a mellower, calmer human being.

Sylvan experiencing coconut anxiety (another example of maturity; he wouldn’t have put up with my photo shenanigans a year ago).

Shave ice rocks the house, even if it’s only 68 degrees F outside.

You often jump into play in the preschool classroom when we pick up Miss Elena, who is always finishing up her snack (because she’s a good eater and a good talker). The other day, while you were helping to put away some train tracks, you started to take one from a little boy, thinking he was handing it to you because you were closer to the bin. He yowled, and you just stopped, not even responding to his outburst, and continued putting other tracks and blocks away.

You’ve reached a point in your evolution as a human that, when you are a bit wronged, you brush it off. I especially appreciate this in your interactions with your sister. When you step back and don’t escalate a tense situation, I want to hug you (but if I did, you’d make a noise like this: whiny “ehhhhr,” and pull away). In fact, I want to hug you a lot, but that’s not your preferred intimate gesture; you prefer a back-scratch.

Run away!

You love: laser tag, chess, Stratego, facts, pretending to be different Harry Potter characters/rainforest animals /Bearbarians warriors, playing in the waves, downhill skiing.

You are good at: being yourself without being at all concerned about what others think, spelling, math, reading long and complicated books (You just finished The Hobbit by yourself on the way back from Hawai’i; I still haven’t read it because it’s so long and complicated.), and chess (You’re playing in tournaments, and your goal for the last one was to gain a higher point value—based on wins, losses, and draws—than your last tourney. You did it!).

You are nervous about: team sports (but you play football with the boys every day at lunch), some other athletic endeavors where you feel your peers are bigger and better, and I don’t know what else. I know you have concerns and anxieties that I don’t hear about. As you slowly climb toward middle school, you will share with me less and less. I think this is why I need to stop, slow down, and just listen to you. We need to chat about nothing that matters so that we can chat about what does matter when you want to share it.

I love you,

Update 15 April: You were very fun to watch in your soccer game yesterday. You went directly to the ball and were scrappy. If the ball was anywhere near your section of the field, that ball touched your foot. You had some great steals yesterday, and you smiled the entire time. It was very joyful.

And the two lasting verbal kid mis-speaks that I still love to hear you say are “pacific” for “specific” and “care-UC-ter” for “character.”



We might be doing this thing right after all

Posted by jonesey on Saturday, 21 January 2012, 20:30

Location: In the kitchen.

The players: Julie, Chris, Sylvan.


Julie (to Chris): “[The Hooligans’ Mother], the other day, told me that [the Smaller Hooligan] wanted Twinkies for his birthday because Hostess is filing for bankruptcy….

Sylvan (interrupting): “What’s a Twinkie?”

Julie and Chris (simultaneously, with fists raised triumphantly): “Yes!”

Cheerios, yes. Twinkies, not so much.


Posted by jonesey on Monday, 28 November 2011, 6:21

[A post from the past. Explanation here.]

19 May 2010. Sylvan, age 4 2/3, and Julie, a bit older:

Julie: “That donut looks so good. What’s it filled with?”

Sylvan (clearly not wanting to share; deadpan delivery): “Ticks.”

Plus, I licked my fingers. And you're a vegetarian anyway, right?

Son of a geology major

Posted by jonesey on Saturday, 26 November 2011, 6:44

[A post from the past. Explanation here.]

7 November 2010. Sylvan, age 5: “We’re going to get lots of stuff, and put it somewhere for a really long time, and it’s going to turn into [hushed voice] A ROCK.”

Lobster shirt -- check. Kid harness -- check. Green socks -- check. Ready to climb!

The power of metaphor

Posted by jonesey on Friday, 25 November 2011, 6:36

[A post from the past. Explanation here.]

18 September 2010. Sylvan, age 5: “Dad, if you sit in that booster seat, you’ll turn like a hinge.”

1 Oct 2010. Sylvan, age 5: “Is a turkey vulture’s wingspan louder than banging on wood?”

5 November 2010. Sylvan, age 5: [eating Lemonheads candy from Halloween]: “Dark blue tastes like sour lots of sugar.”

"You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss... your lips."

Hey, that’s *my* line!

Posted by jonesey on Thursday, 24 November 2011, 6:28

[A post from the past. Explanation here.]

20 July 2010. Sylvan, age 4 2/3, and Julie:

Julie: “What would my Roller Derby name be?.”

Sylvan: “Bushy Run.”

Julie: “Why?”

Sylvan: “Because you’re like a fox.”

Also, because you're fast and strong. Like a fox.

Let’s save the day

Posted by jonesey on Tuesday, 22 November 2011, 6:13

[A post from the past. Explanation here.]

16 May 2010. Sylvan, age 4 1/2: “Elena, come on! Let’s save the day!”

This is what we do *after* we save the day.

Using our senses

Posted by jonesey on Monday, 21 November 2011, 6:03

[This is the first of many posts that I have accumulated in a giant pile of things to post. They will be events and photos from the past, sometimes from many years ago, that I just didn't get around to posting. I'll try to date all of them. Most of them are things that one of the kids said. We write these things down on a piece of paper that lives on the refrigerator door. Consider this a visit to our kitchen.]

6 May 2010. Sylvan, age 4 1/2: “We’re going to Mars. If we smell a bad smell, it might be Martians.”

Clothes? We don't need clothes to go to Mars.

A knock-knock joke from Sylvan

Posted by jonesey on Thursday, 1 September 2011, 17:13

The kids have been having fun making up knock-knock jokes at the dinner table. Sylvan’s best one so far:

Sylvan: Knock knock.

Chris: Who’s there?

Sylvan: L.

Chris: L who?

Sylvan: LET ME IN!!!

Sylvan on a swing, Cape Cod, July 2011

Happy Birthday, 5-year-old!

Posted by julie on Monday, 13 September 2010, 12:47

September 2009, by Cary Lieberman

September 2010, by Christina Howard

Dear Sylvan,

You’re lying here next to me, snug in your sleeping bag, wrapped in layers of fleece, and I can’t get over how much you belong here. From the moment you stepped onto the trail, your surefootedness and powers of observation (“That stump looks like a hand;” “Those trees have smoother bark than these.”) made you seem natural and comfortable. You’ve been like this—so much better outside—since you were born. After you took care of some business with a cat-hole this evening (high five, brother), and I said I needed my headlamp because of the gathering darkness within the towering Doug firs and cedars, you told me that your eyesight is like a cat’s, so you didn’t need a headlamp. (You proceeded to explain that your nosesight and gripsight (traction) are also like those of a cat; I really like that word: ‘gripsight.’.) You were right; you didn’t need a headlamp. You walked the trail without one. Even with only Crocs on, you hopped off rocks like a mountain goat.

We’re out here on our inaugural mother-son backpacking trip with Kari and Cole, and I’m just so proud of our 5-year-olds. You really are so big. You excitedly started to build a shelter with wood you found on the ground among the willows near Linton Lake, our destination when we found out the Mt. Washington Wilderness on the other side of the road is still closed due to fire. We were going to head to Hand Lake, a mere half a mile hike in, but you boys managed the 2 mile hike to the campsites at the east end of Linton Lake. You romped through the grass at the lake’s edge, pretending to be tigers. You also walked upstream in the streambed, looking for trout for dinner, trout you were going to grab with your bare hands so I could cook them up.

At home, you are rarely this independent. You hang around grown-ups, telling stories and asking questions, or you follow Elena around, first playing with her (“Elena, let’s pretend we’re bears!”), then smacking her with a pillow or otherwise seeing how far you can push her until she cries (usually pretty far, it turns out). This antagonistic behavior turns me into a big, mean monster; although I know that, as a big sister, I’m sure I did the same thing to my sister that you do to yours (sorry, Aunt Jenny). Hearing Elena cry from another room often unleashes a stream of under-my-breath obscenities.

Wheelbarrow-wielding Batman, October 2009

Bow-wielding horned creature, November 2009

The happiest wipeout, December 2009

This is who else you are at 5:

  • You tend toward perfectionism. I can’t get you on a bike, and I think it’s because if you don’t think you’re going to ride it down the street as well as you can in your mind’s eye, you’re going to wait until you can.
  • Same with writing. You started writing words about a year ago, with fun creative spelling and everything. But someone told you to hold your pen differently, I think, and you’ve stopped writing altogether.
  • You’re still very capable with words, and you try out new ones all the time. You’ve recently started saying, “In my coordinates,…” for “In my calculations, …” You make up words, too, as with ‘gripsight.’
  • You definitely have rules you like to follow and that you expect others to follow right now: time-outs for Elena, for instance, which you try to enforce yourself, or “I’ll say sorry after he says sorry to me, because he hit me before I threw the stick at him.” Sigh.

January 2010

Flushed with hard work, February 2010

Scary monster, March 2010

Truly intrigued, April 2010

I keep looking over at you, as you rustle in your sleeping bag, and I wonder what you’ll be like—at 11, 14, 23. Will you play sad songs on your guitar at 14? Will you climb Mt. Hood when you’re 17? Will you continue to look just like pictures of me at your age?

  • You love to be active, and your little hard body is testament to that. You whirl through playgrounds. You led Elena and me on a tromp through snowberry and a streambed, complete with stream, last week. Foreshadowing, with the benefit of typing this two days later: Tomorrow morning, you and I will go on an adventure while our friends sleep. You will crawl under downed trees, trees with trunks taller than you when they’re lying on their sides! You will speculate about why all the trees are down (You will think the cedars are taking over the forest, not leaving enough space for the Doug firs. “It’s mostly the ones with the cracked bark that fell down,” you will say.) You will climb over other trees, confidently hopping off them. You will lead the way, at least until the spiderwebs in your face make you crazy, when you’ll politely ask that I go first (the same ploy Grampa Dick used to use to clear the trail ahead…).
  • You live for books, and I definitely use them to focus your energy and calm you down. While you can read words, you prefer not to, which may be because of your “If I’m not going to do it well, I’m not going to do it” mentality. One day, I’ll look up, and you’ll be reading the Harry Potter you plucked from the shelf. You like oral stories, too, and you’re generous in trusting me as a storyteller, especially since I tend to fall asleep and ask you what I was talking about.

Earlier tonight, you and I spent 15 minutes staring at the star chart, despite our not being able to see stars through the trees. You picked out your favorite constellation based on shape. You chose Monoceros,  the unicorn between Canis Minor and Canis Major. You asked about the different sizes of stars on the chart, and you noticed, when you spun the time and date window, that part of the sky is always visible. Next step: a little astronomy/Earth movement class with models.

Now I’m going to snuggle with you, both to keep you warm and because you’ll let me snuggle.

I love you. Thank you for backpacking with me.


May 2010, by Diana Foster

Mosquito swollen, June 2010

Getting his climb on, July 2010

Whatcha lookin' at? August 2010