Wednesday, February 13, 2013

And the universe laughed.

I don't know that I've mentioned it in this space yet, but somehow this:

 ...Gave birth to this:

Yes, the Universe had a good long chuckle when it granted my suburban goth womb the makings of a true blue Texas Competitive Cheerleader. Miss A began in tumbling classes three years ago and made the switch to cheerleading two years ago. Her natural gift for gymnastics, complemented by her super-sized personality, are a great fit for the sport. I watched in wonder as she jumped, and cheered, and stunted her way through performances. She looked so happy out there!

 Last May she decided to try out for her gym's brand new competitive cheer squad.

Her try-outs took place the day before we left to travel to Seoul to take custody of YH. It is pretty amazing to think that as her little life was on the cusp of complete upheaval, my babe pulled herself together and plunged headfirst into a major team commitment. All at the age of seven, mind you.

I got the email telling us that Miss A had made the squad as we sat in the DFW airport waiting to board our big blue Korea Air plane. Her coaches wanted to be sure she knew what a big responsibility this would be. She was one of the two youngest members of her team; there would be no time for goofing off. She would have to come to every single practice, all year long, no exceptions. She promised me she would; she was taking this seriously.

Part of me had doubts. Part of me expected that about a month into the season she would realize how much of her weekends were now devoted to practice, and she would stop wanting to participate. Part of me was already drafting the email to the coaches politely declining the opportunity.

And that negative part of me was thinking back to my own childhood, when I quit every damn thing I ever started. I had great enthusiasm for discovering new activities; I *loved* reading through recreation association brochures, imagining my as-yet-undiscovered genius in watercolors/rocket building/pottery/tennis/soccer. But once I started classes, and realized I was solidly middle-of-the-pack (or lower) talent wise, I dropped the activity.

Piano: took too much time during the week. Trombone: made my lips feel weird. Lacrosse: all that running made me tired. Field hockey: "B" team didn't get to wear the cute plaid kilts. Ballet: eh, not my thing.

And so on. I was an accomplished quitter by the age of eight.

Miss A, on the other hand, has never once asked to skip practice. Since mid-August she has spent the better part of her Sundays at her gym, working her heart out. She smiles the entire time she is at practice--and not because that's what cheerleaders are supposed to do. She does it because she is genuinely thrilled to be there.

Last weekend her team performed at a rather large competition. As they were warming up one of their flyers (the girls at the top of stunts and pyramids) injured herself. She had to leave to seek medical attention and the judges granted our team one hour to rework their entire routine. One hour!

They did it. And they did it well.
And when I asked Miss A if she was ever worried that they wouldn't be able to pull it off, she looked at me like I was crazy.

"No way Mom! We work hard, and we support one another. That's what a team does, no matter what."

Man, I'm proud of her.
And man, I wish I'd stuck with something long enough to have felt that way when I was a kid.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Three. (and three.)

On Monday our YH turns three.
Three years old!

I cannot possibly tell you how this happened. How this moment is suddenly upon us when only yesterday we asked to parent a wee eleven month old baby. (and then waited...waited...waited)

This birthday feels momentous to me, and sad, and happy, and lovely and terrible. I guess that's what parenting this child will always be, no? A sudden punch of every emotion known to man.

Of all my children this one has brought me the most opportunity to examine my own shortcomings. It is as if each morning I put my weakness under the microscope. I take a deep breath and peer through the eye-piece, and there I see some green things twist and bend. My intentions wiggling up against my limitations. My hopes and dreams suddenly obscured by slimy doubts. My frailty crawling alongside the bravery needed to advocate for YH.

This boy.
This beautiful boy.
He's three!

Monday will be a full day for YH. I will open the door to his sleeping nook early, and crawl into his toddler bed next to him. I will press my lips against his full cheeks, and gently wake him. He will protest in his own YH way.

"No thank you mama. No thank you." as he burrows under his pillow.

I will persist and within an hour we will walk to school with Sweet Bubs. YH will wear his Thomas the Train backpack and I will marvel at how he can walk with it bumping against the backs of his knees. I will clasp his tiny hand as we walk into the cafeteria, where his new pre-school teacher will greet him.

After months of endless evaluations YH has finally qualified for our district's PPCD (pre-school programs for children with disabilities). He is the youngest in our school's current PPCD group and so he will spend his day with four year olds, working on expressive language, articulation, and self-help skills. He will come home exhausted, with a mouth sore from the effort of being understood.

The goal is for him to make significant progress in his speech development. While I (of course) want this for him it is hard to imagine YH speaking in full sentences and paragraphs. So much of our communication now is achieved through the intimacy of our bond. I alone know exactly what he needs/wants with just a gesture. I alone can decipher his frustrations. We have "inside" jokes that require not a sound to be uttered. One of us will raise an eyebrow and send the other into a fit of giggles.

I'm not sure I'm ready to give that up just yet. I'm not sure I'm ready for our own code language to be replaced by phrases intelligible to the rest of the world. Selfish thing that I am, I want to protect our private language. I want to preserve his dependence on me as interpreter.

YH is turning three and after three comes four and after four comes five....

****                     ****
The other three that looms large in our home these days is the three-some unit that is YH and his two older siblings. As you may remember our first few months together as a family of five were rough for the bigger kids, especially Sweet Bubs. Sweet Bubs wanted so desperately to be a big brother, and he was crushed by YH's lack of interest in playing with his siblings.

I am happy to report that now, ten months in, Sweet Bubs and YH are inseparable. YH follows his big brother everywhere and insists on having Sweet Bubs in the tub with him, tucking him in at night and holding his hand when we run errands.

Their relationship is amazing. AMAZING.

Miss A now gets to roll her eyes at the antics of her two little brothers. She naturally assumes a leadership role when it is three of them engaged in an activity and she will not hesitate to correct any act that violates a "rule" (imagined or otherwise).

When one of my three gets hurt the other two rush to the injured party's side. They huddle together on the sofa to look at books and they sing along to awful pop songs in the backseat of the car, each trying to escalate the volume higher than the other two. They squabble and fuss and pout at each other and sometimes they just fall in a heap on the rug and roll around like wolf cubs.

They are three.
Three together.
Three parts of the whole.