Tag Archives: seven year olds

Thirty-Four — Canada Day

I made Arlo a birthday cake yesterday for his birthday today. It was passably Canadian, relatively tasty, and frosted with delicious buttercream, which is all that really matters. If the last flavour you taste of your birthday cake is sweet, chocolate, and buttery, then it was a successful cake. And luck will follow you! I just made that up! Let’s see if it comes true.


Last night, Arlo tried convincing me I should put his presents downstairs, just so he could look at them. I declined. He still stayed up until nearly nine o’clock and got up at before six o’clock so we knew it was bound to be a fun day full of mood swings and chaos. But first, coffee.

Just call me "Angel of the Morning." Everyone else does.

Just call me “Angel of the Morning.” Everyone else does.

Then, presents. Arlo got some Zinkies from Eli, a ninja costume from his grandparents, a Lego minifigure encyclopedia, headphones, and a box of rocks from me and Saint Aardvark. The box of rocks was a huge hit. Hey, they were fancy rocks. I bought them at a rock shop. Fool’s gold! Crystals! My kid is wild about rocks. (this picture is not of the box of rocks.)

Yay, that book I wanted!

Yay, that book I wanted!

We went to my parents’ house for the day. It was really hot there, but they have a small pool, a big tree, and a hose to fill hundreds of water balloons. There was a lot of screaming. The good kind.

There's a very involved battle going on here.

There’s a very involved battle going on here.

We ended the day wet, tired, hot, and happy. Some of us were a bit dirtier than others.

This shot captures the moment of water balloon impact at Arlo's feet. Cool, huh?

This shot captures the moment of water balloon impact at Arlo’s feet. Cool, huh?

The repeatedly-christened seven year old might smell dodgy but still remembered to say ‘thank you for the rocks, Mommy’ when I kissed him goodnight. And so, goodnight to you all.


Thirty-two is how many years old I was when I had Arlo, who turns seven on Monday.

Maybe it’s just that I’m a moody sort of person, but the moodiness of age 7 really suits me. It is self-conscious and insecure, sometimes, with a lot of introspection and ‘being alone in [my] room’ (much to Eli’s chagrin)(I mean fury). There’s a sweetness, still, and generally* not as much nastiness.

*except where his brother is concerned, where there’s always room for nastiness! Who’s got room for MORE NASTY? That’s what I thought, all you siblings.

Several times in the past few weeks, something Arlo has done has made me cry and realize that all the talking and talking and modelling appropriate behavior and talking and explaining and patience (and sometimes not patience) does pay off. SEVEN IS THE GOLDEN AGE, THAT’S ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW.

One day this past week, after school, he was disappointed that a friend of his wanted to play with a different friend, not Arlo. He cried and cried and I went over and gave him a hug. After we got home, he went up to his bedroom and shut the door. A few minutes later, he brought me a card he had made. The card said, “You tried to cheer me up when I was sad. Thank you.”

Another day this week, he asked if I could make cupcakes for him to bring to school and celebrate his ‘summer birthday’ with his classmates. I agreed to do so and then we had a brief discussion about how many he would need, determining 23 including the teachers. “Oh, and we should maybe bring some fruit or something for [kid] because he can’t have cupcakes.” At first I was annoyed because who wants an extra thing to do? Then I realized that every day for a week, someone would have brought cupcakes to class to celebrate a summer birthday, and every day [kid] didn’t get to have one. And my kid noticed. The reaction of the teachers when we provided two Canada Day balloons to [kid] in lieu of a cupcake said it all. #heartburstexplosion

He’s not perfect. But he’s a damned fine human.

Thirty — Summer!

Prompt two for Bring Back the Words: “What is your quintessential summer supply list?”

Today was the last day of school for Arlo. Technically it was only 2 1/2 hours of school. We all stood around outside the school at 11:30 going ‘what do we do now? Do we go home? And? Then? What?’ It was raining, so that didn’t help.

Hopefully it all comes back to me.

Must haves for summer:

– Umbrella and rain boots (ba dump!)
– Internet connection
– Library card
– Lip balm
– Hat (ball-cap style)
– Spare hat (full straw style, in case it gets really hot)
– Sunglasses (must be new every season because I wreck sunglasses. Yes, if I bought a good pair I *might* take better care of them, but then again I might not and then I might end up wrecking expensive sunglasses)
– Sunscreen — whatever’s handy. 30 spf for my face all year ’round and whatever doesn’t smell like coconuts for the rest of my body.
– Children’s sunscreen — the spray-on kind, not too smelly, not too cold, not too sticky you get the idea.
– A big bag to put all the stuff in
– Purse in which to carry the stuff I don’t want the children to find (secret chocolate, my phone, etc)
– I suppose I should check the status of my bathing suits as I have a tendency to buy halves of two pieces when I see them for cheap and then end up with yellow bottoms and black and white tops. I know! Travesty!
– Sandals. I only wear one pair but I own three. Last year I was looking for the perfect sandals, despaired of ever finding them, bought two cheap pairs instead and THEN found the perfect ones. #lesson
– 400 five-dollar t-shirts, two of which start the summer white
– Bubbles for the children to blow
– Water bottle. Have you guys seen my new (late summer 2012) water bottle? I’ll take a picture of it for you tomorrow.
– Tea tree oil for all my itchy spots, not that we have mosquitoes here, I am just itchy a lot
– Heel file because my heels are made of coral. They’re so hard and mean they held up a gas station last week, just for free twizzlers. How embarrassing.
– Toenail polish, the brighter the better
– Deodorant! And hair oil goop stuff so my hair lies down a little bit each day. My hair needs its rest.
– Snacks! I like almonds and raisins and fruit; the children enjoy a fine assortment of crackers
– Tasty beer
– Often gin
– In a pinch, wine
– Music. Lately, the children have become obsessed with SONIC HITS the local HIT STATION that plays all THE HITS. They are starting to chafe my nards with this, actually. I turn the key in the car’s engine and the radio hasn’t even come on yet and Eli says “Is this SONIC HITS?” Are they paying you to listen? I don’t think so. Settle down, Beavis.

And the sanity must-haves:

– Regular showers
– Time to write in my journal in the morning, and a break mid-day, otherwise a full day with two children might just result in me stealing a skateboard and running for the border
– Exercise
– Sleep
– Several nights sitting on my porch until it’s dark, talking with Saint Aardvark
– Tiny vacations, even if they are just in my tiny brain.

Happy, happy summer! I hope!

Twenty-Six — Keeping Track

Once upon a time, I gave each of my children a container of fish crackers and each was happy. I blogged about this in passing and a commenter said, “JUST YOU WAIT someday they will count the crackers to make sure they each have the same amount.” In general, harbingers of doom don’t do it for me, as I am not one to acknowledge someone’s rightness until well past the date the rightness occurred, so you telling me “JUST YOU WAIT” about anything basically makes me want to ignore you. Since becoming a parent, however, I have noticed that it’s sensible to file the warnings away. Odds are, someday I will need them, like the safety pins I keep in my wallet.

Lo, behold, I am remembering the warning now.

The past few weeks have been exciting because we had Grandma and Grandad staying with us. This was good on many levels; extra hands around the house so I could have a shower and grocery shop and not have to take a surly five year old with me, extra feet to walk the kid to school and back again. People to talk to and drink coffee with and drink beer with. People I like in my house! So good, on so many levels.

For Eli, it was good on an extra level: Treats. We went out for lunch. We went out for ice cream. We went to Costco and got fries after shopping. Two extra levels, I should say; the level where you get extra treats and then THEN! the level where you tell your older brother, who is at school all day, all about the extra treats you got.

This has awakened quite a rivalry between the children. Not something I think wouldn’t/doesn’t otherwise exist, but something that was dormant, like mould. Slugs? Shingles? Shingles. Now, even though Grandma and Grandad have gone home, Arlo still greets his brother after school with WHAT DID YOU DO TODAY? WHAT DID YOU GET? WHAT DID YOU GET ME?

Today was Fun Day (formerly known as Sports Day? No longer.) at Arlo’s school. He got to go to twelve different stations in the school, make a bead bracelet, eat a Freezie, hang out with his friends, and then had hot lunch which was pizza, lemonade and ice cream for dessert.

Today was Eli’s last day of preschool. I was volunteering at Arlo’s school so I couldn’t be at preschool for the final moments, when the door opens and the children sing “Goodbye my friends goodbye” with their mothers and fathers present and everyone sniffles. I couldn’t be there because I was helping make bead bracelets, a task which gets harder the closer you get to the hot lunch because no one can focus to save their goddamn life. ANYWAY I decided that for a treat I would take Eli to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal.

So: Arlo got a Freezie, pizza, lemonade, ice cream, a morning spent running around with his friends and an afternoon watching Ice Age. Eli got cheese pizza at school and a Happy Meal after.

As an aside, what did I get during this same time period? I got to stand for two hours without so much as a bathroom break or drink of water, helping small children thread beads onto yarn that frayed and refused to be threaded upon, and do you see me complaining?

Oh, you do? OK.

Anyway, I would call it even between the kids, but that didn’t stop Arlo from “It’s not fair”ing all over the place after school.

To help even the score, he went to his friend’s house after school and this friend has a rather enormous supply of junk food, so when we came to pick him up he was surrounded by empty cookie bags, chocolate smeared all over his face.

Eli says no fair because he got no cookies. Arlo says no fair, because he still has no toy and Eli got a toy with the Happy Meal.

It is a good thing they’re cute.

Tooth finally dropped out this morning.

Tooth finally dropped out this morning.

Fourteen — Run Club

Back in May I did my first ever race, a 5K fun run. It was fun! It was also on a Saturday morning at 8:30, so the kids and SA dropped me off at the start and then played for a while in the park and then met me at the finish line. Arlo made me a sign that said “YOU CAN DO THIS!” on one side and “RUN! RUN! RUN! GO! GO! GO!” on the other. When I finished the race (ten minutes faster than I predicted! toot toot! [that’s my horn]) Arlo saw some other kids who had just run the race with their parents.

“Hey, so kids can run?” he said.
“Yup,” I said.
“Next year I’M running this race,” he said firmly.

I forgot about it until yesterday when he asked if I was going for a run this weekend.
“Tomorrow,” I said, “maybe..”
“Can I come with you?” he asked.

My first thought was no, because running is my solitary activity and with him I won’t be able to get in a good workout, and many other excuses. My second, less selfish thought was hell yes. I have been wanting to spend more one-on-one time with him since, let’s see, Eli was born five years ago? Promises to go for a coffee date always get put off, and if we do go, then he wants me to buy him things because Eli always gets muffins while Arlo is at school, and then I end up resenting the time instead of enjoying it. And one-on-one time with your resentful mother who won’t buy you another muffin because you hated your first muffin is not what they call Quality.

What a better idea: one morning a week we can go outside where there are no muffins and walk/run/trudge/train.

This morning after breakfast we put on our shorts and t-shirts and running shoes. We jogged along slowly until he couldn’t any more, which was two minutes, so we ran two minutes and walked three and did that six times. Along the way we talked about running and muscles and other stuff and nothing at all. It was a most peaceful forty-five minutes. I felt just as good as I do after a solo run.

I like liking my kid. It feels good, and he is more relaxed and happy too when we spend time together. It’s like when I used to put my naked baby on my bare chest and our heartbeats would synchronize.

I knew there was a reason I wanted that one-on-one time.

Which reminds me to recommend: this post at the Rumpus. Funny and touching and true and relevant. What more could you want?

Seven — And Counting

It became clear to me when I looked over the past few days’ posts that I can’t count properly or use consistent spelling (numerals or words? PICK ONE) and should be shut out of the Internet entirely. Post 4 was titled with a 3. Post 6 was titled with a 7. This post, which is number 7, is titled Seven. Onward!


From age six to seven, Arlo has seemed mentally scatterbrained, like a squirrel chasing many different sorts of nut. He’s been pulled in many simultaneous directions; to anger, hysteria, meanness, sweetness. Sometimes all in an hour. In this way, six has not been very different from four or five, as ages go.

In the last month, though, I’ve noticed a change. He is focused now, but not on anything I can see. He seems perpetually like he’s coming down with a cold; unsmiling, staring off into space. I have been asking him if he’s OK, if everything is all right, apparently too much because he’s got a new habit of prefacing his statements with “everything is fine…”

Don’t panic. MOM.

There is a series of books about child development, year by year, by Drs. Ames and Ilg of the Gesell Institute. Each book has its own compelling title, like “Your Three Year Old: Friend or Enemy,” and contains plenty of comforting statements like “three year olds are the devil…they just are…don’t sweat it” (not an actual quotation) or “the average four year old wants to karate chop the universe six times per hour” (ditto).

I love these books so. I recommend them to people all the time. I read Your Two Year Old, Three Year Old, Four Year old and Five Year Old but recently realized that I skipped Six and now am approaching Seven, the title of which is “Your Seven-Year-Old: Life in a Minor Key.”

All I needed to see was the title and this:

“Your Seven-Year-Old is devoted to the delightful but often anxious and withdrawn child of Seven. Although any seven-year-old will have moments of exuberance, security, and happiness, in general this is an age of introspection. As it begins, parents and teachers may welcome the quiet after the tussles and tangles of Six. But once the child of Seven starts to withdraw it’s almost as though he doesn’t know where or when to stop.”

and I got it, bing, like a small, sharp rock to the forehead. It’s not that Arlo feels physically out of sorts, it’s that his emotional sands are shifting.

We went for a walk through the neighbourhood today, just the two of us, hand in hand, not talking about much. I developed a habit of talking a lot to my children when they were babies because it’s good for them (and they were my only company for a while) — and now I have to learn to shut up. I have no problem doing this with adults, letting there be silences and spaces in the conversation, but it’s hard to do with my kids. I want to know so much about them. I used to be their only theatre. The original TV.

I need to work on it, to let those spaces in the conversation go, let them expand like lungs full of breath. I’m trying. Be cool. Everything is fine.