It’s spring break for our local schools, so Lillian and Arthur invited Silas, Petra, James, Elisabeth, Merin, Gabe, Shaymus, and probably others (??) over for a (lack of) slumber party. For my kids, this was a first. Laura sent us pictures and videos of them all dancing, singing, carrying on, playing games, enjoying hot chocolate bombs and pizza and who even knows what. Petra got about 5 hours of sleep, Silas claims he got 3. They had an epic good time.
I was sure somebody would call wanting a ride home at 11:30, but that did not happen. At all. They were still bubbling with joy over the whole thing until they crashed promptly at 8:30.
JC and I talked about how this feels like a milestone. They were able to be with a bunch of other people, manage their own selves, process big feelings, and not ask for our help. Silas didn’t lose his retainers. Petra didn’t melt down over the chaos. They both slept at least a little bit, in unfamiliar surroundings.
They’ve hit other weird milestones, lately. When they’re tiny, it feels like every month, there’s some milestone you read about in the baby books—first tooth, first word, first step. Nobody tells you about all these other milestones, though, and they’re just as powerful to witness.
Last week, when they were with Max, they all walked several blocks to Kline’s and bought ice cream. Max might have done that before, but it’s certainly the first time my kids walked themselves to a store and managed the whole transaction on their own.
On the other side of the counter, they also worked the box office for one of my shows at Bridgewater. I was…nervous about this one, but they managed really well, figuring out what prices people should pay, making change, handing out programs, telling them where to go.
During summer camp sign-up season, Petra was interested in a day camp that Silas didn’t think would be a good fit for him (he was right). She decided she’d go even if he didn’t want to. She’s never done that before. She never goes anywhere without him except extremely rare playdates with one specific friend. But she’s feeling ready to try something new.
At Forest School, Silas is working with two girls who are sisters to edit and publish a weekly newsletter. I think the girls are doing most of the writing, but Silas is contributing ideas, sketches, and a weekly “advice corner.” He’s beginning to understand that his sensitive nature and interpersonal perceptiveness can help other people work through problems. Petra is working on a team that is constructing a big shelter—it’s a cube about 8 feet to each side. She’s solving the engineering challenges in building something so much bigger than she is.
Petra’s developing much more skill in her pottery lessons. I eat breakfast most days off of a plate she made. When she gave her favorite forest school teacher an herb-stripper as a “Groundhog Day gift,” I didn’t wonder if the teacher would have to pretend to be impressed. It was gorgeous. Her latest thing is trying to figure out how to make ocarinas. She and Ros have been experimenting.
Silas is suddenly taller than me (not an accomplishment, really!). And his voice changed, somehow? All of us had colds and our voices got weird, and his just never went back. His voice isn’t super deep, but today I ran across a recording he made only two years ago, and it’s astounding how different it is.
I read somewhere that adolescence is like second toddlerhood, and wow is that ever true. Their bodies are growing so fast, they’re always hungry, they always need more sleep, they keep bumping into things because their limbs don’t end where they did yesterday. They have big feelings and get cranky easily, and sometimes they just irritate each other because they’re bored. Sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind. But it’s like toddlerhood in other ways, too. In the joy of constant discovery and new skills and increased independence. I’m loving this phase. And also finding it completely exhausting.
In some ways, they are still very much the people they’ve always been. People who haven’t seen them in a bit always remark on how much they’ve changed, but I just see them becoming daily more themselves.
And some things never change.
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