A funny thing happened around here recently. I have been struggling - perhaps a bit dramatically, yes - to add a level of disassociation here between the boys and the words I insist on lining up day after day. I formed that clunky sentence on purpose. I can't totally disassociate myself from them, that would not serve my purpose here. But, at the age they are now, as they find out more about themselves, more about their talents, their faults, their desires and aspirations. As they begin the difficult thinking - war, prejudice, hatred; acceptance, love, beauty... girls - I think I am obliged to step back and watch and remain silent, for now. The funny thing is - no, not the original funny thing, I'll get to that, this is sort of a spontaneous aside - that I feel like I have something to learn from them... something about myself, about the way I learned these things, about the forgotten people and situations that are returning to me as I watch the boys navigate this stage and remember navigating it myself.
So, to find the awkwardly coined "level of disassociation" I mentioned, I've decided to tell more of my stories and kind of flip them back to the boys now. I have also decided that I should let them know when I am using an image or telling a story that they might find personal. For instance, they both read my last post about Ping-Pong and my childhood basement. Nick really liked it. Zack liked that he was in it.
They understand, I think, why I am doing this. It is indeed difficult thinking, to understand that a future is coming, that now is the past. A painting, or handmade clay bowl, a stick-house for fairies under the cedar trees, is all temporal, fleeting - they sense that. Sure, I could archive and curate, catalog and record it all. I've tried to grab a bit of here in this long letter home I call a blog. You can't get it all, though. But if you can get a piece of it, an edge or corner of it, they can extrapolate the whole of it. They're smart boys.
I also think they know that I won't tell any of their secrets here. They own those, I can only give away my own. They trust me. They trust integrity. They know I will not fail them... on purpose at least, or unless it's really funny.
Funny! That's where this started...
So, the funny thing is, that since I've been more open with them about what I do here, they've started suggesting ideas and crafts and stories for me to include here. So, just as I have been trying to find a better middle here, they start wanting more stuff about them.
A lot of folks might think that as long as they don't care, well, post away, right? Here's the thing, they don't know what may or may not be appropriate, what might be too revelatory or personal. I'm not sure I do either, but I think I have a better feel for it. Oddly, this comes from overlaying my own childhood over theirs and noting where they meet. This thing hurt me at ten, it may also hurt them. This was hard for me at eleven, it is surely as difficult for them. I found joy in the things they are enjoying and was mortified in the same places and circumstances.
I will proceed cautiously. I think it best to not tell you which of the things the boys have asked me to include here. I think they'll remember.
Zack has been into Rubik's cubes and such lately. He's figured out several different styles. He's proud of himself. This picture is from an untitled series on his camera of image after loving image of all his new Rubik's's (sorry, I don't know what else to call them, they're all not cubes and shapey-shifty-twisty-colored-tile-thingees seems long). Pride is a good to see in a son.
Marci had posted this on her FB page a while back with the caption, quoting him: "Solved like a boss."
Here is one he took of all the ones he has now. He purchased, like, three I think with Christmas money and Nick gave him one then as well. He also did all the editing for the image before I put it here.
Nick made a very good fire the other night. He was proud of himself and I was, too. Pride is good to see in a son, you might remember. He told me that he wants to remember sitting in front of the fire, warming their feet, adding logs and poking them. I think I know what he really wants to remember - being safe and warm and happy and simple and loved and hopeful. He knows that now is the past to come and he wants that past to come to be good.
Sadly, I don't have a way to show you that. I guess I could get a picture of him staring wistfully into the fire but Nick doesn't, uh... pose well. The problem is that he thinks his accomplishments go unnoticed and unheralded (see above paragraph) and sometimes wishes that he had something to take pictures of or hold in his hands. That's tough. I get that. No one likes to feel second or marginalized. No one like to go unnoticed.
Zack came home from school last night and made
It is untitled as well. It's really cool and he likes it a lot. We had a good art talk about negative space and balance and primary colors and all.
Untitled. Perhaps that is how Nick feels sometime. He thinks he doesn't have a thing yet. Nothing tangible like Zack's art work or his Rubik's's.
I think he has a thing. I am reluctant to tell him. I am not sure I am the one to tell others their talents. (I went down this road in a post called Wrapped Gift Post.) If I were though, I tell him it was his love of reading. Believe me, that's a damn super-power right there. The cliche is true, you can go anywhere, learn anything, feel everything, learn all there is to know about others and yourself. If I were to tell him, I'd say that reading as much as he does is just as impressive and noteworthy as any twisty-shapey thing or paper on the window.
In Nick's reading class this year they made a contract to read a certain amount of books this school year. It's called the "forty book challenge." Nick's read sixty-two. Well, actually, the number of books he's read is not exactly certain. They get to call any book three-hundred or more pages long two books. It doesn't matter. He leads the class and his teacher had to make more pages for the log in which he puts the book's title, author, dates read and number of pages. He is proud of himself. So is his teacher. His pals are impressed and he likes that. Don't we all?
Just as I couldn't show you the fire and the dreams they hold, I can't show you this either. He knows the books and the stories they tell him are important to his own story. I don't know how to show that. But, I certainly understand how important it is to him.
You know what? Maybe I can.
In the two weeks of Winter break Nick read this whole series. Zack has started them so we still have them all. It's like four adult novels there, in a little more than two weeks
He cooperated in taking the picture there. He'll probably read all this soon, or maybe later, but those words don't sometimes apply around here. Hopefully he'll understand how proud I am, was, of him, of both of them, of us.
Well, thanks for looking in on me again. Listen, someday I might have to shut this all down. Know, if I do, that I will continue on in private. It is important to me that you know that.
From Marci's "... things you don't expect to hear from the backseat ..."
"Dad, where do you keep your biggest hammer?"
Right over there, next to the TNT and blasting caps...