(Recently, I photographed my sister's family. Portraiture is hardly anything I'm comfortable with or very skilled at, but exceptions are made for sisters. Calvin was my assistant for the afternoon, helping me carry things around, making the twins giggle, and being a stand in for me while I set up the lighting - something I always fret about. I captured these photos of him quite unintentionally that way, and share them here with you with his permission. They're dear to me, these accidental little glimpses of him. I love them so.)
As you likely know from having one or having once been one, there are any number of ways to embarrass a twelve year old. I've been learning, it's actually impossible not to. Familial embarassment is just as natural as - and hand-in-hand with - the literal growth that happens overnight from this boy, the growth that explains exactly what all that food that's going into his body is doing.
Our not-so-little guy has an acute awareness of the world around him, and most certainly the world beyond our door. And with that, an awareness of how those two worlds are not always so in sync. If the goal of a twelve year old is to just blend, I'm afraid that's not what we do very well. The size of our family, the piles and piles of handmade and quite mismatched woolens or vintage clothes, the children dressing themselves rather um, creatively (just as he once did), lack of a television, the food we eat, the farm we keep, the homeschooling we do. Oh my. Apparently we're very weird, you see, and for a few years anyway, I hear that's not exactly the goal.
We've been transitioning from one phase of parenting to another of late. One that switches from which kind of cloth diaper we shall use and how precisely to wash them....to what age at which one should to get an iTouch (or not) and how precisely to help them manage that. It's all so new to us - just as the cloth diapering or the family bed was twelve years ago. Overwhelming sometimes, exciting much of the time, and a mystery most of the time. While each child is certainly full of their own twists, curve balls and personalities, I feel confident that we might have at least a few things about this parenting phase figured out by the time of Annabel's twelfth birthday. Just like the cloth diapers were put to use on her little tush without any thought and her food was fed without picking up a book to tell me when it was time. But this first born - well, it's all new. At almost every turn around the corner, we find ourselves saying, "Oh! Well what do we do here?" And just like in the beginning - about very different things - we read a little bit, we talk to the wise ones before us, and we try to listen to our heart and his both. We'll walk this path together, just as we always have with this oldest child of ours, blazing the trail, leading the way, with him following us along as we stumble and fail and get back and up and love and guide him as best we can all the while. It's a special relationship, I think, and I'm so incredibly grateful that this is the boy we get to walk the road with. Kind, creative, passionate, and beautifully unique (even if he doesn't want to admit that part right now).
This week, we celebrated his twelfth birthday. He'll have a party later with friends, but for his actual birth day, he requested eggs and bacon at home for breakfast. Lunch out with the seven of us for pizza. And an afternoon date with us to the movies. For a minute, it was just the three of us, like it was twelve years ago. With blushing cheeks and only a tiny bit of eye rolling, he let us love him up without a complaint, of course loving it all the while. As embarrassing as I know we are.
He's a good kid.