Thursday, August 26, 2021

Letter to Bobbin - eight years old

Hey Smalls,

It's your birthday! EIGHT YEARS OLD! How did that happen? In my mind you're about four years old, and when I look at you I honestly don't know where the years have gone.

You continue to be ridiculously independent and love to do everything yourself. You like making snacks for yourself and for Tricky and his friends when they come over; you're a great little host. Your favourite thing to eat right now is two minute noodles, and even though you are a bit scared of using the stove after a little burn on your arm, you use really long tongs and stand a bit further back. I can see how proud you are of pushing through that fear of being burned again.

This morning you woke up and the first thing you did was run to Alfie. Yep, we got a new dog. After the pain of losing Sprocket last January, we surprised you and Tricky with a puppy in April that you had already named Alfie. You had already created a bed, too. You'd already done everything, actually, in preparation for a dog that you didn't know about. It was love at first sight. You squealed and later even cried because you were so overwhelmed with happiness. You and Tricks immediately introduced him to Sprocket's portrait and ashes, and you're both very careful to say that he's your favourite living dog, or favourite Groodle, to honour that Sprocket still has a huge place in your heart. In fact, you still bring flowers to a little shrine you created, and a few nights ago I found you sleeping with his ashes wrapped up in a furry jacket, secured with his collar. He's still so much a part of your life, and I love that.

Alfie is very patient with you (most of the time) as you dress him up in outfits and tiaras, play vets and groomers, and constantly pick him up and snuggle him. He's an excellent snuggler and you love it when he's on your bed, curled up with you. You asked for a wedding outfits for both of you so you could get married, and baby girl I delivered. A white fluffy dress for you, and a prince outfit for him, complete with crown. So now you're planning a wedding.

You absolutely nailed your brown belt grading! You powered through the katas and your sparring was excellent, I was so proud. But what made me even prouder was the way you were with Tricky, who attempted his black belt grading on the day but didn't get to finish. You were a gracious winner, and whilst we all still celebrated you with a special dinner, you didn't rub it in, and were always checking that he was OK, knowing it would be hard for him. The maturity you showed was astounding.

You're now only a few months away from going in to black belt prep classes! It will be interesting to see if you can keep up with pushup requirements for black belt because of the way your muscles and joints are. I have no doubt of your sparring, and when you remember to practice you can get the katas, but the fatigue that sets in with your bendy body will be a challenge for you. So you might be a black belt this time next year, we'll have to wait and see!

You've recently started tennis lessons on a Saturday morning and are loving it. Though you do appear to enjoy going around and picking up all the balls more than hitting them. You use the racquet to see how many you can do at once, a competition of sorts, and end up with so many you can only shuffle forwards without spilling them.

I'm surprised you didn't pick dance as your second sport. You are always singing and dancing at every opportunity. You make up songs and medleys and sing, sing, sing as much as you can. You spin and twirl around the place in leotards or fancy dress whenever you get the chance. Sometimes you'll be out the front on rollerblades and wearing a tutu, making up a song and dance routine on the neighbour's driveway. There's always time for a performance with you.

You are super creative and the craft trolley is always out while you create all sorts of lovely drawings and art work. Your favourite thing to do is to make personalised cards for people; your current teacher, your pre primary teacher, the neighbours, friends, me, Nanna and Pop... the list goes on. There's always a card or letter being written. You love playing teachers, too. You get out the whiteboard and line up your teddies to teach them. I even heard you recording in funny voices of your teddies saying "Good afternoon Miss Bobbin" so that you could have a more authentic classroom. You still want to be a police officer, but a teacher, a mum and a dog walker have made your list now.

Your Lego skills have shot up sharply these past twelve months, and you've started creating your own pieces; some from instructions that you find then modify, and some that you make up yourself. I'm so impressed with your NPU - nice part useage in Lego Speak. You love creating dioramas and, ofcourse, they always have dogs in them. You got a doggy daycare lego set today from your Albany Nanna and Pop and you flipped!

You have adjusted well to not having me around as much as I'm studying and working six days a week this year. It's tough on you when I'm not home to tuck you in to bed, but luckily two nights that I work you're allowed to stay up a bit later for mum cuddles in bed while we watch cute dog videos on Instagram together. I do love our cuddles, and our special not so secret handshake/kiss when I'm leaving or dropping you at school: I put a kiss in each of your hands to take with you, you do the same to me, then we touch noses, a kiss, and a hug. If I'm dropping you at school you then say "see you in the window" and you go to the front passenger window and make a loveheart with your hands, kiss your hands and then blow little thumb and finger hearts to me. It's been our routine for years, slowly having more bits added, and the heart hands are brand new this year. I have visions of it being ten minutes long by the end of primary school!

You are such a joy to be around, my girl. You're fabulous, funny, smart, creative, adventurous and sporty. You are exhausting in the best possible way. Keep planning your mammoth yes day that has been postponed yet again, and hopefully we'll get it and your birthday party organised and done soon.

Love you, cupcake.

Mum x

Friday, June 4, 2021

Letter to Tricky - eleven years old

Hey Bigs,

Happy birthday, my gorgeous kiddo.

What a year, hey? I wasn't sure if I was going to write this letter or if I was closing it off after ten years, but here I am. I think this might be it though? Rounding out your last year of primary school with your last letter? Who knows? It will be a hard tradition to give up because I love reading the old ones before writing the new one; adding another chapter to the book of you.

You've been a very independent kid for a few years now; roaming the streets on your bike, getting to and from school yourself a few days a week, and so forth, but the last six months in particular, you've increased this and taken on responsibility of taking Bobbin to and from school a few days a week, while I'm studying. It's been mostly good because, well, you're siblings, and sometimes you ride too fast for her!

I love the little messages you send me from your watch or Messenger Kids. Sometimes we'll talk in just silly emojis, but most of the time you're saying how you love me and think I'm an awesome mum. It makes me feel so good that you think so highly of me. I think the absolute world of you and your poo emojis.

Your black belt grading was rather contentious. You were runner up gradee of the day for your brown, and we knew you could kick butt for your black. You were super nervous though and didn't have that same energy from the last time. But you still did OK, or at least we thought so, until they sat you down. We were all so confused. We couldn't understand why you were being sat down when you were doing OK, and doing better than some others who were still going. I had heaps of video footage and even showing your instructors they did not understand why you'd been sat down. 

It was really hard for you, and the half dozen or so other kids that were also sat down. Your sister graded to brown that day and you did a bloody marvellous job of still celebrating her even though the wind had been knocked out of your sails. There was celebratory dinners booked, and I was so impressed with how you were able to balance your feelings.

All the kids that were sat down were from our dojo, and being graded by another dojo... that seem to be not on the greatest of terms. A bit sus. Even the organisers thought it was an unfair decision and instead of making you wait three months to try again as is the norm, you all were allowed to try again during that week. That's unheard of.

You felt really sick on the day; I thought it was just nerves and sent you along, even though I'd been a bit sick and wasn't well enough to come watch, I still thought it was nerves for you! You did a massive spew during your grading and that's not unheard of so we STILL didn't think it was sickness. But when you were sick as a dog for the next two days we realised you'd just done your black belt grading with gastro. Unbelievable! My ten year old black belt.

You've also started doing the leadership class at the dojo. You were asked to join years ago when they didn't know how old you were, because you would be focused and follow the class really well and they hoped you'd be able to guide others... but you were too young! We forgot about it a bit and then a few months ago we realised that hey, you're old enough now, and finally you stepped in. It's still new for you but you're getting the hang of being an assistant instructor. You like to help the orange and blue belts with their katas the most, and you're getting better at projecting your voice to award badges.

Grade six is an interesting year. You like your teacher, though you miss your teacher from last year terribly. You've got a nice group of friends and when you all get together it's fabulous, fun, and loud. Things are progressing and we're sending off high school applications! You were encouraged to apply for the GATE music school but decided you wanted to go where your friends were going, and since change is really hard for you, I think you made a great decision.

You're still loving trumpet, and we all swelled with pride hearing you sound The Last Post at dawn on Anzac Day on the driveway (those Covid hiccoughs have mostly gone away for our state, but there are a few here and there, and we were all in lockdown over that long weekend). You are still teaching yourself more and more songs on the piano, and have started creating music electronically, too. You have such a gift for hearing something and then playing it! Getting you to practice is not always easy though, mister.

In the last school holidays we got a new furry family member, Alfie. I surprised you with him and though you loved him instantly, it did take a while for you to adjust to having a puppy in the house. You are very protective of Sprocket's memory, and within about 20 minutes of having him home, you and Bobbin introduced him to Sprocky's portrait and ashes, telling tales of his "big brother". You are very cautious to say "best dog right now" not "best dog ever" because you worry about hurting Sprocket's feelings. When Alfie laid in the same spot in the garden that Sprocket loved, you asked me if maybe Sprocket's spirit was there? That maybe Alfie could feel it and was drawn to that spot because of it. I love how your brain is working and you're figuring out your own spiritual path.

You've dropped Muay Thai and taken up skateboarding instead. You spent your own money on a cool board and have been going to a nearby club to learn a few tricks. You were very timid and wouldn't drop in at the skate park; you would stand near the edge for ages, contemplating, weighing up the pros and cons, and then you'd step down, really annoyed with yourself. But after your second lesson you shouted "Hey, mum, watch me drop in" and suddenly you can drop in and do all sorts of things. You don't like some of the tricks though because you watched one kid break their board attempting it and you're convinced the same would happen to yours, so you just flat out refuse to give it a go. Not chancing a broken board that you worked so hard to save for.

You are still obsessed with games and aren't very happy with me that you're only allowed to play them twice a week. What can I say? I'm anti-screen. But you get online and play and chat with your friends; I love that you can use it to connect with the boys from your old school, and the bond you have with them is so strong.

We are still discovering how amazing your brain is and I can't wait to see what's next. You have some challenges ahead of you in the next six to twelve months, my gorgeous boy, but I promise I will be right here, helping you, advocating for you, pushing you along when you need it, and being your soft place to land when you fall.

I love you with every fibre of my being. You're my favourite Tricky ever ;)

Mum x


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