Thursday, June 4, 2020

Letter to Tricky - ten years old


Two whole hands. Though it's been a few years since we've counted in hands, isn't it? You're a tween now and as I look back on photos, it is so hard to believe we have spent an entire DECADE loving you.

The last few months have been very strange. By the time you're reading this you'll probably go "oh yeah, that was the Covid19 year". We isolated early to protect you, your grandparents, and the community. You were sad to leave school as your teacher this year is amazing and has been the first to ever "see" you.

We had three amazing weeks of homeschooling. I genuinely adored it. You became pen pals with your friends down the road, baked, learned all about climate change, did amazing art, AMEB music, and went on socially-distant adventures. You rode your bike, played make believe, read books, did martial arts, and never have I been happier that your Dad and I have strict screen rules. You barely touched a screen (outside of education things like Reading Eggs and Mathletics) the whole time, instead using your marvellous imagination.

Our school holidays were unlike any we've ever had. Instead of going out every day to do an activity, we stayed home. And much to my surprise, you said you like it better. So I am keeping it in mind for next time. After a few more weeks it was time to go back to school... and you didn't want to go. Which was weird because your home teacher was very sweary and a bit shouty and your school teacher (your favourite teacher EVER) is never like that ;) But it was a lot safer now, and, well, after seven weeks with us all crammed together, I was hitting my limit. You and your sister can be annoying as fuck sometimes, either besties or bickering and picking on each other - but that's your job, you're a tween (but seriously, stop picking on your sister).

I hope you remember this strange time fondly. There has been some real shitty moments - being home all the time, in each other's faces has put a strain on everyone, and martial arts online has been VERY hard for you (and me). But there has been so much good. Like secret adventures, camping and bonfires in the backyard, picnics in the park and tying string to a bag and hoisting up presents to your grandparents on their third floor balcony. I really hope you remember Nanna saying she'd throw some chocolate down and us all shouting out no... only for her to do it and it land on the bloody awning below (a nice man got a ladder and rescued it!). 

You have gotten in to body boarding - and it seems like we're at the beach every week now. You used your own money to buy a lime green board, even splurging for quick shipping (are you even my kid?). When you found out one of your besties body boards too, well, it was even more fun then. You are unrecognisable from the kid you were a few years ago. The kid who refused to get water on his face. Who screamed at every hair wash. Now? You're getting in the waves, getting dunked and loving it. A few times you've gotten out of the water and I've asked you "Hey, where did that kid go?" and you positively beam with pride. BEAM.

Your hair is past your shoulders (this week you were proud to have it long enough for a man bun). When people meet you for the first time, most of them call you a girl. "Girls, can you bring your books here" or at Christmas time "Did you want a photo of your girls with Santa?". You've shrugged it off. You and your sister have been raised as feminists and know that gender is displayed in myriad ways, and sometimes people make assumptions.

This time last year I said you were near your brown belt and now you are over half way through and nearing your black belt. You have four tips on your brown and despite this hiccup (the afore mentioned online classes being awful for you), it's likely still on track. Your Muay Thai grading is all over the shop thanks to continual administrative errors, and different people telling us different things – it has thrown you, but as it’s not your main discipline, you’ve been able to move on pretty quickly.

You entered two events in the latest ISKA tournament, coming first in traditional katas (Lull Before The Storm) and second in sparring - it was controversial, quite a few people thought you should have won, but things have fallen in your favour before when it came close to the line and this time it didn't. So we chalked it up as experience and focused on the fact that holy shit, you came second in a field of twelve in your "weakest" area, against a kid who had a good 10kg on you. You nailed that second and deserved your place on that podium.

You were chosen to be a part of the music program at school and selected trumpet, just like your dad. You wanted cello but I didn't want to lug one around - you can do that one later. For Christmas Dad passed his trumpet down to you and it's really cool to have it in the family. I always feel so proud when I hear you play, but dude, I’d love to hear it more. You HAVE to practice, mister! You've taught yourself piano... a friend showed you a piece he'd been learning in his piano classes and you copied him. So, that was, um, interesting. You watch YouTube, learn the pieces you like in a day or two, and commit them to memory. I'm astounded. You have musical genes, but bloody hell, mate.

Your perfectionist tendencies are still there, stronger than ever, and whilst they reflect very positively on your report card (almost straight As except for the C in sport which is hilarious since you're a brown belt), it causes you a great level of anxiety if you mess up. You like things to be right and pick on your sister if she gets things wrong, even though she hasn’t learned what you’ve learned yet. The mantra we say together now is “does it matter?” and you are getting better at thinking whether this grievance actually matters in the moment or if it’s something you can let slide (again, stop fucking picking on your sister - and don't you worry, I say this to her, too). 

Our old boy, Sprocket died in January and it was an incredibly sad time. You were so brave. You patted him and said your goodbyes despite wanting to run away as far and as fast as you could. I was so proud of you for making the choice to stay in the room so he could be surrounded by his favourite people as he took his last breaths. Sprocket was older than you and you didn’t know a world without him in it. You weren’t besties with him like Bobbin, but you loved him, you loved him being around, and you miss him.

I wonder, as you’re looking back on this (are you 18? 19? when you’re reading this?) if you remember your toy giraffe Jeramy (yes, that’s how you spelled it). Jeramy was lost. You were absolutely devastated. You made him years ago at a school holiday bear workshop and had celebrated his birthday every year since. He was the only stuffed toy you ever paid any attention to, and when you realized he was gone we moved heaven and earth to find him. We pulled the house apart. Three times. I emailed local shopping centres and put out the call over Facebook in case anyone had found him. But he couldn’t be found. You wrote him a letter and it was the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever read. You hoped he was safe; on an adventure instead of wet or burned or laying in the dirt somewhere. You apologised just in case you had done something to make him leave. You wrote about how he brought you comfort and held your secrets, and signed off saying you were his dad, that you’d always love him and that you’d never give up hope of finding him. You knew he was a toy and yet he was so much more. We still celebrated his birthday with a cake. It was a bittersweet day. After four months of him being gone you asked for a new soft toy and chose a Zebra, because it was the type of animal to hang out with giraffes. You called him Smartie. He sleeps in your bed and has brought you comfort as you’ve transitioned through these periods of grief and isolation stress.

Your resilience, in light of your struggles astounds me. Getting back up after the falls is what true resilience is, and whilst you might see it as being knocked down more than others, I see it as getting back up more than others. Many things are not easy for you, and you keep trying. It’s amazing. You’re fucking brilliant and I’m in awe of you. I know that you will continue to try and I will help you along the way as much as I can.

The next year will no doubt bring just as many highs and lows as this year. You’ll probably be roaming the streets with your mates, zooming around the bump tracks with Dad with your brand new bike (it’s red, it goes faster). Playing Rocket League and asking for more screen time. Kicking your way through the tips and ranks at martial arts. Powering through school and trumpet. Reading like there's no tomorrow and engineering some wild and creative construction with Lego. I am so privileged to be able to watch you grow. My kind, funny, thoughtful, smart, sensitive, sporty, focused, beautiful boy. I love you more than you could ever possibly know.

Mum x

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