Monday, January 22, 2018

General Noah Damaske! (Can I be real a second? For just a millisecond? Let down my guard and let the people know how I feel a second?): Happy (belated) Birthday to Noah

Noah. My boy. You are old enough to read this now, and all the ones that came before it, but you won't - not now anyway, but hopefully someday. Maybe this will be the last one because maybe a ten year old just doesn't want his stuff out there like this. Maybe a nine year old doesn't either, so this is a little bit of a risk and perhaps it's my pride for you more than a nod to my annual tradition of writing a birthday blog that has me writing this post. So I'm sorry not sorry.

It's late. The lights are all out in the house now and you are deep into your sweet night of sleep. When you sleep, you still look just like the baby I stared at constantly day in and out nine years ago (I knew every tiny mark on your body, every piece of hair on your head). In the peacefulness of the night and the relief of another moderately successful day behind us, it is hard for me (and any parent, really) to think of anything but the wonderful wonders of you. The 27 fights you had with your sister between 7 and 8 tonight are so far behind me now as I traipse into a late night blog about you. So, to those that are reading (yourself included, young man), please understand that it is with the silence of an hour alone to myself, one sleeping husband, and two cozy kids (plus one dog-child) fast asleep that I write about all that I love about you.

You are not perfect, but I fear I might make it sound so. I am as biased and guilty as every parent who ever sent a long-winded type-written Christmas card to their family, friends, and acquaintances in the 1990s accounting every accomplishment and award of their offspring that year. And yet, there is always more interesting stuff *actually* going on, so I'm hopeful I can buffer my doting on you with some anecdotes you will laugh about later.

The truth is, big boy, that this may just have been my best year yet with you. Your humor has become more defined, noticeably so, which might be my favorite development of all. It's dry and bursting at the same time. Don't we just love narrating the thoughts of our sweet puppy Duncan? You think he has a higher-pitched toddleresque voice and I envision his human voice as a deeper, rather sophisticated grown-up sounding voice, with a touch of absent-minded professor. But we agree on the fact that he absolutely believes he is a person who deserves every bit as much meat from the fridge and space on the couch as every other human in this house. (Duncan: "I... don't recalllll... ah... being told the burgers were on the table? I guess I'll just... serve myself? Wanna do me a solid and grab a plate for me?"). You LOVE the phrase, "do me a solid." You just love it. And now I do too... again.

Your creative energy and curiosity and ability to just dive right into this project or that fascinates me. A tiny little spark, simmering anywhere near you, an idea that catches your attention, and the fire grows. You are all in. The other day, you came home and showed off the new miming skills you'd been practicing. Miming!

You can make literally every animal with your hands and fingers, with some twists of your wrists and some convoluted manipulating of your fingers. You and your friends have taken "Here's the church, here's the steeple" to a whole new level. You created an ongoing game over a year ago with your buddy Henry that involves walking around outside and narrating an entire world made up of your combined imaginations. When you leave each other and reconnect, you pick up right where you left off: "Where were we... ? Oh yeah... those zombies were about to attack us." The name of game is Haunted Run. I understand it about as well as I do Pokemon (which I will never ever ever understand), but I love it so much more.

Most days, you draw, often action shots of Star Wars battles or a pile of dragon pictures, which include descriptions you've written about their characteristics and special skills. Sometimes, you write stories to go along with them.

Homegrown Hamilton program cover
Other times, you make origami animals or paper airplanes of all different designs. And then there's your jokes and riddles. Some you make up. Some are better than others. Daily, you rattle off random animal facts (your superstar animal is the peregrine falcon). You hear stuff, or you read it, and it gets filed in that lively, enviable brain of yours. The facts go in, and they stay. And when I talk about envy, I mean my own. Yes, I'm a little jealous of you. But a loving jealous.

When you decide you love a song, you need to learn all the lyrics to it immediately. And you need to know what they all mean, just what it's all about. Why are so many songs about love? Why do people think about kissing and love so much? What about songs about battles and cooler stuff? You're so right, I've realized. There are way too many songs about love, specifically romantic love. Come on, musicians! Think outside the (music) box!

You believe Lin Manuel Miranda got it right in every way. Battle songs, history songs, drinking in a pub songs! We all know your love for Hamilton (Homegrown Hamilton post). You loved Hamilton well before I did. And you've taught me more about the American Revolution than I'd like to admit. It is a pleasure and an honor to raise you, General George Washington.

And now! You are in the chorus (and also the wolf pack) for Beauty and the Beast. And when I see you at rehearsal, sitting on the edge of that stage, legs crossed, singing your heart out, it feels right. You on that stage seems right to me. It may not always be that way, but my gosh, it does right now. There is something very special about the theatre kids. But you don't have to be one. When you read this twenty years from now (or more likely 30, 40...), I wonder what you'll think of this paragraph, of this idea that you are suited for the stage.

You have glasses now and love being able to see again. You read until 9:30 every night. You love Tui's series, Wings of Fire. You lie sometimes, but usually confess. You are kind - mostly (GRACE!). You are developing empathy. You still fight over seats at the table. I find that weird, but you remain passionate about sitting in the seat you want to sit in. This has been going on since you had a sister.

You beat me at chess every time. It drives me completely insane. You are my favorite and most willing dance partner. You are number 80 on your soccer team. One day on the way to your soccer game, you announced you were going to score that day. It was the only time you ever said that and the only game you ever scored.

Do you remember the entire day you dedicated to solving a rubiks cube using a pdf of simple instructions that turned out to be not at all simple? You got solid colors on two sides, but who can honestly move beyond that?

You used to have more fear. I've hopefully written about that at some point. Back when you were two, three, and four, before you understood the amount of control people can have over things and choices, you believed touching a fire alarm would cause a fire. Or accidentally pushing the Help button in an elevator would cause the police to come or the elevator to break. It terrified you. Now you are afraid of roller coasters. And getting lost in a store. And being late to school.

You still call me Mommy and Mama and never Mom, not yet, and I love that. You hold my hand after school. You hardly even look at the clothes you are putting on your body and haven't checked out your hair in at least a year. Oh, it's all so fleeting, I know.

You watch football with daddy (who you still call daddy) and understand the rules and even some of the plays. SACK! You say. "OH NO... INTERCEPTION!" (You *are* a Bills fan, after all). You've started to learn science in school and you love it with all of your heart. We talk dominant and recessive genes and some of it I even know more about than you and that, frankly, makes me feel good.

The other day Grace told us she doesn't want to get married. You said: "I think I want to get married. Have kids. I'll probably get married. Haven't decided what gender yet."

Yes, Noah. Yes.

The truth is that I feel a little sheepish about posting this blog. I can't help it and I tried to warn you - I have a lot to say on the topic of Noah. I know you won't always be so open with me (though I can still hope) and I know you won't always hold my hand when crossing the street and perhaps that's one reason I'm trying to capture it in this little blog bottle. But in the same dynamic way you live your life - entirely present and engaged, with eyes wide open - I am trying to make this moment, this year with you stick, in writing, in my mind, in my musings and reflections of you. There is no reason you can't be this way always, so jazzed about damn near everything, so passionate about big things and tiny things. There is a whole giant big beautiful crazy world to discover, my boy, and at nine years old, you've already figured that out.

Happy Birthday, my passionate Noah. Now can I have this dance?