(and a couple months, because I am Very Behind Schedule)
Silas turned 12 in September. I cannot get over how much I’m enjoying this part of his life. He’s kind, he’s creative, he has a great sense of humor about his own foibles. I wish I had been anywhere near this grounded and self-aware at 12. Or 20. Or nearly 40.
For his birthday, we had a little family celebration, and then I took him, Petra, and Max to the Massanutten Water Park. We hadn’t been there in years, and all the kids had a great time.
This past year, Silas has chilled out a lot. His anxiety is much less intense. He sleeps better. Sometimes, he gets himself worked up over some random thing, and then stops himself and says, “I think maybe I’m not actually anxious, I’m just bored,” and then goes and creates something.
Getting back to a world where we see people again has been stressful and confusing for Silas, as it has in one way or another for all of us, but he’s getting the hang of it. He has always loved people.
It’s been a big year for theater. Silas auditioned for the first time (didn’t get cast, but had an amazing attitude). He performed in his first scripted play in forever, a world premiere of Don Zolidis’ Elsewhere at the Wayne Theatre, directed by Corey Vincent Holmes. I love that he got to work with Corey; she’s one of the artists I most admire.
We saw King John at Shakespeare on the Sound, in Connecticut, starting a canon-completion mission (we’re scheduled to see both Pericles and All’s Well in the next week, which will bring his lifetime total to thirteen, out of ~37ish). He also saw his first Broadway show, Hadestown. To say it blew his mind would be a serious understatement.
We finished listening to all of Sondheim. His favorites were The Frogs and Into the Woods, both solid picks. What I loved the most, though, was that this project allowed him to start understanding the progression and development of an artist’s skill over time. He could see the way Sondheim tried something out in one show and then fully developed it in another, sometimes separated by years. I hear this awareness now; he always situates art within the context of the performer’s development. When we listened to In the Heights, he could identify the specific bits that LMM subsequently sampled and expanded for Hamilton and Moana. We listened to the OBC recording of Tick Tick Boom, which has Jonathan Larson singing “Boho Days” at the end, and he said, “This is the bridge song that got him to Rent.” He’s not wrong.
Silas continues to write constantly. Whether it’s novels, D&D campaign plans, snippets of description, his graphomania continues apace. Frankly, I’m here for it. He and Petra have been collaborating on a novel and a play. The bits of them I’ve read are really, really good. I know I’m biased, but I can’t get over what a solid writer he is, as well as being a great collaborator.
When it was time to write “brilliant things” on the porch for Silk Moth Stage’s production of Every Brilliant Thing, Silas chose “words” and “adjectives” as his contributions. He’s been talking about writing and marketing as possible career paths, and I think he would be happy doing both of those things.
Silas has organized several RPG groups. I think he has three or four games running most of the time. He loves creating with other people; he’s not a hack-and-slash gamer. He’s working on getting better at making sure everyone’s voice is heard, but for only being 12, he does a good job.
I’m enjoying this time of watching him unfold, discovering what he’s passionate about, imagining his future life. He’s always been compassionate and caring, but he’s finally developing a level of awareness to where he can have a little more space around his own heart, and help others without getting overwhelmed by them.
(thank goodness, because a year ago, Petra was mean to the Google Assistant, and it sang a sad song about that, and Silas cried for days)
I forgot to ask in his birthday interview recording (below) what he wants to be when he grows up. When I followed up later, he said, “Happy.”
I think he’s going to be.
Did you just level up?
You just had a birthday. How old are you?
Does it feel different from being eleven?
Not at all?
I think you’ve grown a little bit in the past few weeks.
Can you tell me anything cool our family did this year?
Me and Petra got our COVID vaccines. We went to Arizona. We saw Ely.
We’ve seen Ely twice this year.
What is something you like to do with Dad?
What is something you like to do with me?
Listen to musicals.
Oh, yeah. We went to see Hadestown this year.
I forgot! Or, I forgot it was this year. I thought it was December.
It was February. Is there anything that you learned to do this year, that you couldn’t do a year ago?
Balancing card games and RPGs. Instead of, say, how janky and messed up and asymmetrical Taking Risks is, where like, this one class can only get up to level seven, and then afterwards it starts losing hit points, and abilities. And this class gets like 70 spells at level one, whereas this class gets two. And this monster can just insta-kill you with its basic attack.
What are the names of some games you’ve made recently?
There was the Here to Slay RPG. There is the one I was working on right now, which is Quest 5: Demon Summoner 2: Kingdom of Crystals, which is a sequel to Quest 2: Demon Summoner 1: Heavenly Hellscape.
Is there anything you’re scared of?
Not bears. I am no longer scared of bears. I don’t know. Nuclear war?
Who are some of your good friends?
Max, all the Fairfields, Carpenters, Jack, Violet, Beatrix, Reed, Clay, Leo, Sam…
You have a lot of friends.
What do you like to do with your friends?
It depends on the friend! With Max, I like to play Elemental Academy, and with the Fairfields and Carpenters, I like to play Kutelopes. And with basically anybody, I like to play D&D.
What’s your favorite book?
I have two favorite book serieses. Wings of Fire, and these Pathfinder books here.
Are those game books?
They’re game books, but they have a whole lot of interesting lore in them. For the setting of the world of Galerian, and the Red Planet, which is basically just fantasy Mars and stuff like that. They actually have a fantasy African magic school that they actually got Black people to write. They made a whole setting guide for it, too. It’s not just magic school, that’s only one campaign of it.
So it’s maybe a way of unwinding the racism of classic D&D?
Exactly. There’s Black elves, there’s Black dwarves, who worship dragons, there’s…. frog people.
I know one other big thing that happened this last year, since your last birthday, which is that you did counseling for eight months. I think you’ve gotten better at handling your anxiety and stuff.
Is there anything you want to say to yourself as a grown up?
Hi! Being a kid is really fun! Don’t forget that. Also, don’t make me forget Persona 5, because it’s really good.