Archive for September, 2010

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