"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Nine!


A few months ago, Max started creating a card game based on the Warriors book series. Similar to Pokemon or, if you're lucky enough to know about it, the Harry Potter card game, the game Max is working on consists of Warrior Cat cards, which players can collect, in addition to "power," "element," and "adventure" cards that you use in playing the game. The goal is for your Warrior Clan (which consists of the cats you have collected) to gain superiority over the rival Clans. 

It's pretty brilliant and he's making all the cards by hand, which is impressive. Dozens of cards and the rule book, which make up the game-in-progress at the moment, live in a well-organized folder under Max's desk. 

Next to it is a well-organized collection of recipe cards, cook books, and pages ripped from food magazines because, in addition to the Warriors Project, Max is also working on his Baking Project.

On a shelf across the room is a binder with tabs separating the information Max has accumulated and the knowledge he has acquired in the fields of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy, and Geology. Because Max is also working on a Learning About Science Project. 

Then there are the Geography and Cultures folders that Max is using the teach Molly World Studies in his School Project. I won't even mention the various works of art and "creations" that live at the Art Table in the basement.

The other night, as I was tucking him in bed, in his room littered with the folders and binders and boxes of his works-in-progress, Max said to me, "You know what, Mommy? I think I need a project."

I took a deep breath before reminding him of ALL the projects he's currently working on...It's not that he doesn't finish what he starts, although that is sometimes the case, it's that he is constantly seeking his next big obsession. When Max dives in to something, it's with everything he has.....until something new catches his attention. He'll go back to previous projects, though, so we must save everything. Everything. All of it. All the time.

He went on to tell me that having a project calms his mind. I SO get that. The over-thinkers of the world will agree: having something creative and concrete to let your mind play with keeps it from ruminating on the worries and the anxieties that sit beyond our realms of control. We need projects to keep our minds settled....I just wish Max's didn't leave a literal trail of project mess destruction in his wake.

I try so hard to honor his creative process and let him do his thing, but the papers and the supplies and the piles Drive. Me. Crazy. I wish I could lighten up. I wish I could let it go. Maybe that's MY new project.

*****

Nine years old.


This kid is as spunky and sassy as ever.


But there's a maturity that's growing.


And with it, an awareness of this world that I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand, because of the time and place into which he was born, Max has a healthy awareness of who he is and how he identifies. He has role models who are out and proud (BIG thanks to the Queer Eye guys...JVN, in particular) and friends and a community who accept and love him completely. 

On the other hand... a third grader shouldn't worry about bad people bringing guns to the Pride celebration we attended last month. Max did. A little kid, who identifies as gender-fluid, shouldn't know that the LGBTQ community, his community, is sometimes targeted and discriminated against by hateful individuals and even our own political leaders. Max does. A nine-year old shouldn't know that Nazis came to our city...the same Nazis who hate people "like him" just because of how he feels comfortable dressing. Max does.

He's growing up so fast and, sometimes, I just wish we could live in that blissful little bubble of innocence and youth forever. But we can't. And growing up is hard.

I'm constantly impressed by how gracefully and confidently Max is doing it. 

Fashion Glasses. No prescription, just style.

Max has been in a bit of a worst-case scenario spiral lately. After the concerns about gunmen at Pride, we dealt with a hurricane in our local forecast. Though we were spared the worst of the weather, the anticipation of the potentially dangerous storm shook Max to his core. Then, on Tuesday, as we were leaving his fiddle lesson, his teacher said, "See you next week, Max!" Max replied with a sigh, "I sure hope so." When I asked what he meant by it, he responded, "Well, we'll probably be here, but maybe not! Literally ANYthing can happen between now and then! You just never know..."

I think it's developmental. I think this worst-case scenario-ing is the result of a highly sensitive child processing deeply emotional what-ifs. It's his new, expanding worldview impacting his still undeveloped emotional brain. He's a work in progress, that Max.

But he's not all doom and gloom. 

He is, after all, sugar and spice. Max's small business brainchild, Sprinkles on Top, has finally come to fruition...years after he coined the name. Thanks to a willing friend (who's mom has agreed to split the kitchen time!), Max's bakery has had two after school pop-up shops, with more in the works.


He's also rhythm and melody. This kid can sing. Play some Taylor Swift and pretend you're not listening to him and he'll belt it. My favorite time with Max is during our weekly drive to fiddle lessons. He plays DJ while I navigate the downtown, rush hour traffic. We blast Taylor and Lady Gaga and Pink and he knows EVERY word (even the lyrics that make me cringe to hear him sing...ooooh, boy....growing up is hard AND educational). 

We've mentioned voice lessons or joining a choir, but he's a sing in the shower kind of kid...if he's going to be on stage, it'll be with a fiddle under his chin. Bluegrass Queen.


I was so thrilled by his decision to start up with the fiddle once again after taking a break for the summer...and not just because it is not, now, just another one of Max's started-then-neglected projects. Watching him learn something new...something challenging that he doesn't pick up instantly and effortlessly...is such a joy. Growing up is hard...but it's beautiful, too.

Lesson Learned:

I wish I could shield him from the big fears and worries he's been processing lately. I wish I could keep him wrapped in the cocoon of safety and security and the complete freedom of self-expression that we lived so comfortably in when he was little. I can't take away the worries, but I can support the projects that keep his mind busy and calm. I can ignore the mess and the clutter and embrace the creativity. 

I can't keep the dark parts of this world from him, but knowledge is power and Max will do great things with all that he'll learn and experience. His patience and compassion are endless. His ability to see the best in someone, anyone!, puts me to shame (I still firmly believe that people are just the worst). Max is kind and thoughtful and so exceptionally bright. Max is a good egg.

The world is yours, babe. I can't wait to see what you make of it.


It's going to be FABULOUS.

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