I think we all know what went wrong last year, but I think I’ll appreciate writing down the things that went right to look back on over time.
This was a year of immense growing up for the kids. In so many dimensions – academically, emotionally, socially – they’re all completely new people in a way I don’t think I’ve noticed before.
Amelia has an incredibly strong group of friends. It’s much smaller than what I remember having in elementary school, but the quality of the connections is much deeper. They’re around each other constantly which worries me. Won’t they grow tired of each other? But honestly – they don’t. And it amazes me.
It’s incredibly hard to be a father to a modern girl. You have to instill in girls confidence that they don’t inherently have. Not push the spunk out of them even though it can drive you crazy. Amelia and her gaggle of friends have random fears of the world that make no sense to me. So how do you push them through those fears without turning them off to experiencing life? I haven’t figured it out.
Amelia has fallen in love with gymnastics. She swims like a fish. Piano, singing – we’re trying to find an art, but we’re not quite there yet. I wish she would read and write more, but she did play Belle in the Spring Production of Beauty and the Beast.
More than anything though, she’s becoming a highly opinionated, strong willed young lady. And before too long, she’ll be ten years old!
Luka spent the year amazing me and driving me crazy simultaneously. Fewer opinions, but moody as hell. Smart as a whip, but the street smarts of Princess Jasmine from Aladdin. Obsessed with things at a level that fascinates me, but laziness that drives me crazy.
It’s equally hard to be a father to a modern boy. Especially one who is as sensitive as Luka. I really need him to toughen up a bit. The world is cruel. But he carries the world’s emotions with him. He makes himself responsible for the well being of everyone else – almost always to the expense of himself. It’s hard to watch, but on the flip side it makes me incredibly proud of him. How much he cares. How much he nurtures.
Luka had one line this year that I just won’t ever forget. They were talking about marriage with Laurel, and he said – “You’re supposed to marry your best friend, and so I guess I’ll marry Reeves.” There was no stigma. No real concern about the comment. Just pure love for his friend. And I think it captures the Luka of this moment perfectly.
Luka is obsessed with football and Pokemon. He plays Minecraft. Incredible reader and mathematician. Lazy as can be when it comes to writing. Plays a small bit of piano. We might even start a Christmas tree business this summer together. I really love this guy – even if I’m scared of how the world will abuse him one day.
And then there’s Theo. He’s absolutely the extreme of everything. Screams at you one second. Cuddles you the next. Bites you. Then he wants to play a game with you.
Theo spends way too much time being asked to copy or live up to what his siblings are doing. That’s where we’ve failed him the most. But as we establish his own friend group and his own patterns his own personality is really starting to shine. He’s got his pod, and his buddy Owen, and they’re great together.
At one point during the early lockdown a family with another five year old was up in Catskill with us. The two of them escaped everyone else, had their pizza, and then walked together to the playground. They were just desperate for friends their own age. And it was so incredibly delightful.
Theo is incredibly smart. Loves to swim. But his mean streaks are intense. No one in our family loves Eevee the way he does. They’re often together in her kennel. Or seen wrestling in the living room floor.
We’re building a board game together, and I think I get the most 1-on-1 time with him relative to the other kiddos. He really is my last baby, and I’m feeling the baby phase disappear. That’s hard because I don’t feel done, but we’re not going to have any more children. But I’m enjoying the hell out of this last baby phase.
It hasn’t been an easy year. It has been a year of transition. A year where the kids really grew up, and while growth has pains it’s also a wonderful journey to travel. Especially with these three.
Let’s see what 2021 brings us.
I think that Einstein may have gotten it wrong when he tried to describe the relationship between time and energy as quadratic. The kiddos will gladly take the Nobel Prize once we can figure out the math to explain how quickly this year passed, and how much everyone changed.
My favorite was the three-week trip we did with the kids across Egypt, Italy, and finishing in the UK. They handled the heat incredibly well. They learned a ton, and to this day can quote the things that they learned. The time they spent with the family was incredible. As they’re getting older, and better able to retain the memories, it’s amazing to see them create richer and richer moments. Theo learned how to scare the shit of us in the pool, but bravely jumped in anyway. It was an amazing trip.
I’ve found that 2nd Grade is a hard year regardless of teacher or child. But both 1st Grade and 3rd Grade were quite wonderful. I don’t know what it is about 2nd Grade. We had a teacher tell us that it’s the first year that the kids aren’t babied, and that it makes it a tougher year. Whatever it is though, it’s caused lots of emotions to flow out.
We’ve gotten incredibly lucky with preschool whether the 2s program in SF or the preschool programs all the kids have been through. Theo loves his friends, his teachers, and school in general. He’s the most amazing story teller. He’s got the best laugh, and he still cuddles us. He’s a grown up baby in so many ways. If only we could kick that damn bottle.
Birthday parties spread out from Chuck’e’Cheese to rock climbing to laser tag. Swimming in the river and bowling upstate. The big two discovered that they like to ski. Theo discovered that he likes me pulling him up and down the tubing slopes. We still can’t really get them to go for a hike, but I’m sure we’ll tackle that one soon enough.
Amelia has picked up acting and gymnastics, and loves both. She’s been willing to trade away rock climbing. Luka gave up soccer, and hasn’t found a sport, but he’s a Pokemon card player with his whole retinue of friends. Theodore hasn’t hit the activities scene yet though sneaking him into art class was great, and he seemed to enjoy it (and they him).
Biggest family hack was getting Theo into Cooking Camp this year. Not only did we get him in under the age limit, but then the big kids told the teacher he was allergic to tomatoes all week to only find out at the very end that they’d been pulling her leg. That’s how you know they’re related to me.
It was a horrible year on many fronts, but on the kids front it was wonderful. Maybe the best it’s been yet. And I hope it only gets better from here.
This weekend we headed up to Mechanicsville, NY to have a go at a Pokemon League Cup. All three kiddos hopped in, and I joined as well (though we competed in different divisions).
In competitive Pokemon there are three point generating levels – League Challenges, League Cups, and Regionals. There are also International Cups, but I have no idea how those work, and so they’re outside my world view 🙂
Luka has been the one in the family with the most success so far, and he looked to continue that streak. But Amelia and Theo both are getting much better – and the fairy deck I inherited from Amelia is one I’m finally figuring out how to play better.
When all was said and done, Luka finished 2nd (out of 4), Amelia 3rd (out of 4), and Theo 4th (out of 4). I finished 22 (out of 28).
The real chaos though came in building the decks mere moments before the tournament started. You see only certain cards are legal, and I totally botched which ones were allowed and weren’t allowed. Poor Theo had to build a whole new deck in the 10 minutes before the tournament started, but he was such a great trooper. We also had a bunch of other Poke Parents help us out, and that was a huge help. It’s a really amazing community from that point of view.
I was bummed out for Luka because he won his first match, and then ended up playing much harder competition than the rest of his peer group. The result was that they had better results than him though he had beaten them in head-to-head competition.
It’s definitely a bug in the Pokemon tournament system I’d love to see resolved.
And the shop where the tournament was hosted was amazing. It’s an old gaming store with old NES, SNES, arcade, and other games. Did you know that a functional version of Mega Man 5 for NES is worth $110?!? Because I sure as hell didn’t!
It was a great Saturday for all of us, and I think we’ve all got some good ideas about how to improve our decks, and move into the next chapter of this season. Maybe I’ll even win 2 matches at the next tournament!
Here we are – one month out until Theo turns 3 years old. It’s really hard to imagine being done with babies. The stages are fun, but they’re hard. The days are long, but the years are short. <insert another cliché here>
And so I’ll just soak up the moments I do get because there are a lot of lasts (last diaper, last formula, last potty training). The best part of it though is that I get to do it with this wonderful guy.
We’re getting ready to move up the road (at a pretty obscene price) because of a disagreement with our landlord. It’s going to be sad to be leaving this street, but, fortunately, we’re going to stay in the general neighborhood (and actually get closer to school). It’s been a great house to have as our first NYC home, and we’re going to miss it. But life is giving us a new adventure, and off we go!
The big two got a really great treat today when they got invited to a show where two folks jump in and out of balloons (and do all sorts of other tricks). As the show was sold out, Theo and I decided to go on our own adventure.
We decided to be tourists, and checked out Times Square! We were roaming about when I remembered that there was an M&M store. I really didn’t know what was there or if it was worth visiting, and so we decided to find out.
It’s relatively useless – just a glorified gift shop, but there was one part which I thought was super cool – you can add a label to your own M&Ms.
So we hopped into line, and typed away on the key pad when it was our turn. And we made about 250 M&Ms with “Theo’s M&M” on them!
As soon as we saw the big kids – who had ring pops from their own adventure – Theo showed off his M&Ms, and traded a small handful of M&Ms for a ring pop. I think he came out ahead on this one!
The closest we have to a local butcher is the meat counter at Whole Foods. But the kids are absolutely fascinated by it. Theo especially will make trips to specifically watch as the lambs, pigs, and the occasional rib of cow gets chopped up into the parts that we then buy and cook. I think it’s a great way to connect them with the reality of what food is while also having a chance to get quality meats.
And now with Amazon owning Whole Foods the prices are about half of what they used to be… which is a bit insane (either on the margin that Whole Foods was making, or the profit margin that Amazon has given up).
I remember going to the farmers market and the grocery store as a thing my mom and I would do most weekends. I loved doing that with her, and I’m glad that even in the age of Instacart it’s possible for us to have those same experiences in a small way (but we also love our Instacart account, and use it religiously).
I have quite a dilemma on my shoulders. A really difficult question. And I’m scared that I made the wrong choice…
So I put it to you, dear reader:
Is it ethical to sign up your children for a life of misery, pain, and suffering?
Because today I took Luka to the ACC Basketball Tournament, and he became the most unfortunate of things… an NC State fan.
There was something to this year… new coach, unbelievable run during the season, beating Duke and Carolina. At one point, we were undefeated against teams ranked #2 in the country!
So I took the plunge. I found amazing tickets on StubHub for cheap. I grabbed Luka out of school. We decked out in all red and white State gear. And they did what all NC State teams do.
Underestimate an opponent. Let a few hot hands out play them for large stretches of the game. Pull off a heart attack inducing comeback. And then lose on a techncial foul because they ran out of timeouts, and called one anyway…
But we had so much fun. Barclays is a really great basketball arena (I’ve heard it’s horrible for hockey), and we were in an amazing spot. We had fun people around us. We got hot dogs, and sugary drinks. There were games set up from the sponsors, and we got to play the games. We were doing math puzzles with the score. It was amazing…
What a fun date day with my Luka… but now I’ve made him an NC State fan. He’ll feel the highest highs and the lowest lows in a spread of about 10 minutes. He’ll probably go bald in his twenties. And it’s all my fault.
But for his first NC State game, and my first ACC Tournament game, we had the time of our lives. There’s always next year in Charlotte.