Monday, August 10, 2009

Yankings on the Apron Strings

First of all - congratulations to 9 (+) Texans for being the first to comment with recommended books for me! Her free copy of Haruki Murakami's Hardboiled Wonderland and the Edge of the World is on its way. Yes, I know this looks slightly suspicious with 9(+) Texans being my Best Conservative Friend and all. But the girl was numero uno of the (massive) 5 of you who responded (thanks by the way....I'm not alone after all). My BCF has a trigger finger with the responses. Anyway, she deserves it because she has 8 kids and some of them are teenage boys, so you can see how she might need some form of escapism. Of course the kind of escapism she'd really like would involve a corkscrew but she'll be happy with a really bizarre Japanese novel, instead. Because she really can't afford to dull her senses over there.

Today has been a big day for me. My Big Girl got her driver's license. I was so thrilled that I'd brought all of the required forms with me that at first I didn't even realize we'd passed the big finish line. "Here you go," the DPS employee said, as she passed Ellie her license. "OK, thanks," Ellie said and then spun around and sauntered out the door with me behind her going, "Ellie! You got your license! Oh my God!!!! Aren't you excited? Can you believe it?"

To which Ellie looked perplexed (how many times has this so-not-me -kid given me that look over the past almost seventeen years) and said, "Well, I'm happy but I'm not surprised because, you know, we came here to get it and I've had my learner's permit and this didn't just fall out of thin air and know.....I expected to get it......"

Me? I am endlessly surprised by this whole parenting gig. When Ellie was born I couldn't believe it. Even though I'd been pregnant for 9 months I was like, "Oh my God!! I had a baby! Can you believe it?" and if I remember correctly Ellie looked at me like, "What did you think was in there? A porcupine?" And so it has continued over and over and over. She is not surprised by her life - she doesn't understand the miraculousness of it - and I can't stop being surprised by it. It is like, "Wow, I made this little thing and now it is just up and doing all of this stuff by itself! Will wonders never cease?"

I have 5 kids, but everything Ellie does is a "first". Everything! Isn't that crazy? I never stop being thrilled, surprised, and amazed etc etc etc etc....I think my enthusiasm must exhaust her. Of course the other kids do firsts, too. But not as many because there are a somewhat limited number that can be pulled out of the hat, so to speak. They still manage, though! They all are unique individuals with their own interests and talents - the other 4 do things Ellie doesn't do. And it is thrilling! But it is the ordinary things that will always be extraordinary with the first kid. Things like getting a driver's lisence. I know I'll be proud in two years when Joel gets his - but I doubt I'll freak out about it like I did today with Ellie. She's forever breaking me in.

We're not the only family getting broken in on firsts. Ellie's best friend since she was itty bitty is (gulp) leaving for college in a couple of weeks (at the ripe old age of 16). Last night was his going away party.

Great group of kids...we're so lucky that this is the group ours' fell into. And speaking of firsts.....two of Ellie's friends are getting married (to each other) next year and Ellie will be a bridesmaid in the wedding. They're older than she is (obviously) and this is just one of the things I SO LOVE about homeschooling. My kids have always hung out with kids of various ages, giving them lots of opportunities to benefit from role models and to be role models for others.

The oldest kids in the group are now all in college but still hanging out with their younger friends, too. Last week Ellie went to the movies with friends who included a married couple, an engaged couple, and three teens....all of them genuine friends. It is so cool! And Ellie's little crowd has stretched recently to embrace Joel. Joel will be 15 in September and he is truly becoming a teen....wandering around with his IPod, strumming his guitar, talking bands and movies and hanging out with Ellie.....and at other times being a little boy by wrestling on the ground with his younger brothers or chasing his younger friends (who he adores) with NERF guns or playing with LEGO's. He feels so safe in either environment and it is fun watching him seamlessly glide between his two worlds - both of which welcome him with open arms.

I remember being so sad when Ellie somewhat left Joel behind to quit playing with toys and began listening to music for hours on end, reading books, hanging out with friends instead of playing with friends.... But it was okay. Joel simply shifted his attention to Jules and they became inseparable. But now he is shifting and leaving Jules behind...and I have talked to Jules about it and he says, "It's okay, Mom. I'll grow up, too, someday." Jules is always the one who gets to me with his little statements of simple truth.

So Jules is now playing with the youngest two more often. This is thrilling for them and makes Jules feel worshipped and glorified - which is good for him. Speaking of Jules, he performed in a piano recital yesterday. He did very well, considering the fact that he does not take piano lessons :).

It was at Ellie's young piano students' recital. Camille is taught by Ellie so, of course, she was in the recital. This was expected. What was NOT expected was Jules coming out of his room dressed in black slacks, a white dress shirt, and tie. I was like, "Uh, Jules, you don't have to dress up just to watch Camille's recital."

Jules said to me, "Oh, I'm playing in the recital, too."

Ellie happened to be passing through the room and she was like, "What? Dude, you don't take lessons."

"Oh, I know," he said. "I just made up a song."

Ellie looked at him as he stood there, you know, dressed for a funeral. I couldn't tell what she was thinking. It was her call. She opened her mouth and said, "Whatever. But make it short."

He did. (Look at Ellie's face as she watches/tolerates him).

And here is Camille performing her songs. She did great!
And here is little Matthew. He is not mine but he is wearing a super cool hat and I had to put him on the blog :)

So tonight I'm wondering just how far my apron strings can stretch. Can they stretch down the highway, following a teal green '94 Cadillac that my firstborn bought with her own money? Can they hold onto a boy who is becoming a man - a process of which I know nothing about? This is all new to me....all of these firsts...... And in the back of my mind I know that eventually? The strings are going to break. Because that is what is supposed to happen. And that is both amazingly awesome and not entirely fair.

So tonight I'm signing off with my apron strings tied up in knots, so to speak. Which is okay by me. It is when they're left hanging limp that I'll be in trouble.

Sardine Mama


  1. Nice Post..nice pics. Thankyou Carol..these young adults and children are lucky to have you as a mom.

  2. Waaaaa! This made me cry. From Jules making such a wise comment to thoughts of kids leaving.