Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Looking Through Diamonds

One day last week, a good-looking man dressed in army fatigues walked right into my house, smiled at me and gave me a great, big bear hug.

It had been far too long since I'd last seen my boy, having not had a leave pass since early August. Jeffrey attends RMC (Royal Military College) in Kingston, Ontario, where he is acquiring both his university education and the military training that will sculpt him into an Officer in the Canadian Armed Forces.

He visited for a few days between exams and will be back again on Friday for three weeks, during which time we'll catch up, and settle into our old roles of Mom and son. I'll cook his favourite meals. He'll eat enough for three. I'll ask him if he's dressed warmly enough. He'll roll his eyes at me and nod. I'll remind him to drive carefully. He'll allow me to believe that he's the only driver on the road. I'll tell him that it's good to have him home. He'll try to avoid talking about how one day, in the not-so-distant future, he will be deployed - quite possibly to Afghanistan.

From the time he was a newborn, twenty years ago, I'd heard warnings from other parents, to enjoy this time while it lasted because it flies by all too quickly. They all spoke the truth. Jeffrey seemed to grow from infancy and training pants, to the infantry and training with weapons in a misty blink of an eye.

Last month I wrote about my younger son, Alex. Prompted by a semi-regular visit inside the pages of his baby book, I posted some of the memorable things that he said though his early years. Of course, I have a similar book for Jeffrey, and this week, between visits, it seemed like a right time to flip through the pages of his childhood. His too, includes the letters that I wrote to him on each of his first several birthdays, covering the previous year's events.

Here are a few excerpts from my letters to Jeffrey.

Third Birthday:

• On a particularly difficult behaviour day, I asked you why you weren't listening to anything I'd said. With a most serious and thoughtful look in your eyes, you explained. "Well, some childrens listen to their Mommy and some childrens don't. Today I'm a children that don't."

• When it came time to announce to the rest of our family that you were going to be a big brother, you got on the phone with Nanny and proudly declared "Mommy has a baby in her uterus!"

• You also wondered about how the baby would be fed once he was born. When I explained about how he would get nourishment and that only Moms can breast feed, you lifted your shirt and took a look at your own chest, shrugged and said "I guess my nipples are only decorations."

• Favourite misused word/phrase: (Singing at the top of your lungs) "Take me out to the hallway..."

Fourth Birthday:

• During my pregnancy, and after Alex was born, you had a lot of questions and you readily absorbed the answers. One day, between mouthfuls of muffin, you casually asked cousin Marcy, "Did you have two eggs inside your body that Howard fertilized and one of them became Leah and the other was Miranda?"

• One time I forgot to buckle up as we were backing out of the driveway. You were quick to remind me, and waved my forgetfulness off with "I guess you didn't recognize that we were actually driving"

• Favourite misused word/phrase: (When a lamp nearly got knocked over) "Oh oh! Is it breakalish?"

Fifth Birthday:

• Dad became angry with you one day and you were sent to your room crying. Later, when the two of you talked it over, you told Dad "It's not so bad to be crying because just before the tears spill out of my eyes, it's like looking through diamonds."

• You had a really bad cold, complete with runny nose and the need to blow it often. I tried to make you feel better by fluffing pillows and re-tucking the blanket, and I asked you "Isn't it nice to know that when you're feeling bad that you have a family that loves you so much, and who wants you to feel better?" You gave me a disgusted look and said "No, it's nice to know I have Kleenix!"

• Today, on your 5th birthday, Grandma and Grandpa were telling you how everyone came to see you on the day you were born. At bedtime, you slipped your hand in Dad's as you headed upstairs for bed, and said "Yep Dad, I guess that I'm the first baby that you ever spermed."

• Favourite misused word/phrase: (After I found the house keys that were hidden in my shoe on April first) "April kidding!"

Sixth Birthday:

• As Alex was learning to speak, your pride for him showed when you announced "He said that good, didn't he?" I agreed that he had, and emphasized that he had said it very well. You absorbed that, and the next time Alex said something to evoke your pride, you piped up with. "Alex said that well, didn't he? And I said 'well' well, didn't I?"

• Favourite misused word/phrase: (After devouring an apple) "I have a good appletite."

Seventh Birthday:

• In grade one, Mrs. Pattendon conducted an experiment. She filled three jars with snow and asked the class to predict which one would melt first - the one in the shade, the one in the sun or the one to which she added salt. Your hand shot up first and when called upon, you insisted "I know exactly which one will melt first, and I know why." Given the floor, you stated "The Urban Peasant (a cooking show chef at that time) always warns never to salt your meat before cooking it because the salt will suck the juice right out of the meat, and since water is the snow's juice, the salted one will melt first."

• Favourite misused word/phrase: (After learning that there had been dinosaurs in Canada - Albertosaurus) "Oh, and what about the Torontosaurus Rex?"

Eighth Birthday:

• You had a particularly nasty cold with a persistent cough, but you still wanted to read a story to Alex. The story went something like: "'Meow, meow, meow' purred the little cat. 'Whinny, whinny, whinny' said the happy horse". Then you had a fit of coughing, after which you immediately followed up with "cried my poor, sick body."

• Favourite misused word/phrase: (Upon learning that one of the teachers at your school was leaving to have her baby. "She's never coming back because she's on eternity leave."

Jeffrey has always been logical and cautious, so I know that he has not embarked on his career choice without considerable thought and certainty. I have no doubt in my mind that he will do well on his life's path. He's proud to wear his uniform and I'm extremely proud to call him my son.

One day a tiny hand will seek his out, and a little voice will be calling him "Dad." And like those long-time parents before me, I'll be telling him the truth when I say "Enjoy it while it lasts, because it flies by all too quickly".

Here are a few photos from around my neighbourhood - a place that Jeffrey will always call "home."

This sparrow has been happy about finding a full feeder in out back yard each day, and happier still about having a full beak.

A cautious blue jay watches to as I snap a photo through the glass.

In the frosty winter air, the sumac still holds its brilliant red, and contrasts against the frozen lake.

On the opposite side of the lake from my home, this little ledge juts out over the water near the dock. Occasionally, I'll see people fishing off of it in warmer seasons.

Same spot with a different camera setting, creating a golden hue.

Branches reach out to embrace one another, creating long, intertwined shadows in the snow.


Tink said...

That was honestly one of my favorite posts of yours, which says a lot. I'm off to read the one about the other son.

awannabe said...

boy... the little guy sure knew an awful lot about the birds and bees! Speaking of which, I love the blue jay photo. Nice, bright, and colorful.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the vicarious visit, Cuzzie

the Bag Lady said...

Great post, Hil! Love the "looking through diamonds" analogy! You're lucky to have such great kids.

Frank Baron said...

Very nice. :)

Sure makes me wish my guys had said something remotely cute.

Or interesting.



Hilary said...

Thank you Tink. Much appreciated. :)

Thanks Awannabe. Yes he did! He would absorb details like a sponge and spew them out at unexepected time. Thanks for the kind words. :)

Hey Cuzzie Phyllis! Thanks for stopping by and sharing. :)

Thanks Baggie. I am indeed lucky. They just grew too quickly! :)

Frank, you should hear what they're saying about you in email. It's VERY interesting!

Reb said...

Hilary it sounds like you have done a wonderful job raising two wonderful boys. Congratulations!

Great photos as always, I like the two shots of the ledge.

Hilary said...

Thanks so much Reb, though I sure can't take full credit for my boys. They also have a great Dad.

I'll take the credit for the shots, though! ;)

Crabby McSlacker said...

I agree, this was another amazing post. Such great quotes, incredible observations, and pretty pictures!

It's cool to see such a "together" family when so many of them out there are, well, kinda screwed up! Sounds like you have great kids and you did a wonderful job raising them.

Cara said...

*wiping away tears* I linked to your blog because I aways love the comments that you post on other blogs I frequent. I lost my mom 14 months ago, and this just made me cry.... In a good way. Moms like you are amazing; I hope to be one someday. :)

Hilary said...

Thanks Crabby, as always,I appreciate your very kind words.

I think most kids are pretty decent people. Like with anyone/anything else, it's the screwed up ones that we tend to hear about, and perhaps those exceptionally wonderful kids, as well. But the average decent child doesn't usually cross most people's radar. Yet they're still probably the majority. :)

Hi Cara,

I'm sorry for your recent loss.

Thanks so much for visiting and leaving such a kind comment. I'm glad that your tears were the "good" kind. Please come back soon. :)

Leah J. Utas said...

The "looking through diamonds" observation is absolutely brilliant. What a great way to describe it.

photowannabe said...

Thanks for the delightful peek into your son's baby book. He said some pretty priceless things. I to think the looking through diamonds is wonderful.

Anonymous said...

The time does go awfully fast. I love your letters. What a wonderful legacy for your children.

I loved the third paragraph of this post in particular. I know you will savor those three weeks.


Nita said...

Your post, as always, is fun to read and has some cool pictures. And I prefer to see snow that way, in pictures and far away from me. :)I liked the idea of writing letters to your kids on their birthdays when you first mentioned it, and it's still sounds like a winning idea. Since my kids are grown, I think I will write letters for my grandchildren.

And I bet Frank's boys have interesting comments to make.

Btw, you've been tagged (sorry, I don't know that many bloggers).

Anonymous said...

This was beautiful. It made me laugh *and* tear up. It's great when kids grow up so well, but still a little sad to see them fly the nest. (Can you tell KT's 16th bday is hitting me hard?)

Susan at A Slice of Life

Kappa no He said...

That was delightful. Now, you've got me crying. Jeffrey has a new fan, I'll tell ya. I kept a notebook like that when Julyan was little but haven't looked at it in years. I think I'll spruce it up now.

Hilary said...

Thanks Leah, he's always had interesting perspectives. :)

Thanks Photowannabe, I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

Thanks Gawilli, and you're absolutely right. Savour them, I will! :)

Hi Nita, Letters to the grandchildren sounds like a great idea. I hope to do that too some day.. just not toooo soon. :) Thanks for stopping by.

Hi Susan, You see? They didn't lie. It does fly by too quickly. Thanks for the visit. :)

Heya Kappa. Time to open those pages, eh? You'll have to share now too. :)

Stace said...

That was a beautiful post! I keep reading the blogs of all these people who have kids... I'm getting so broody!!! Both of your sons sound wonderful, you must be so proud.

Virginia Lee said...

Lovely post, Hilary, as always.

My goodness, he's awfully grown to be your child!

Hugs to all of you.

Hilary said...

Thank you Stace, Indeed I am. One day you'll be telling us stories of your brood. :)

Thanks so much, Virginia. Much appreciated. :)

Catherine M. said...

I loved this post. It reminds me that I won't always be living with beautiful young children. I've made another resolution to keep better journals about their wonderful everyday moments that I take for granted...

Cooking with the kitchen door open to the evening sun as their laughter keeps a smile upon my face... A simple trampoline is the source for hours of joy, wrestling, games, and creative play.

Hilary said...

Hi Catherine,

That sounds like you're off to a great start. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. :)

Anonymous said...

This post make me laugh...and cry. I'm right there with you as far as growing sons go.

Hilary said...

Hi Beav,

Thanks for stopping by and commiserating. :)

Jo said...

Hilary, this was such a beautiful post. I got tears b/c you so perfectly captured the journey we take with our children...the depth of love, the commonplace, the hilarity.

I love the nipples are only decorations and looking through diamonds :)))

What a proud mama you must be, your boys are going to shine.

Hilary said...

Thanks so much, Jo. I'm glad you enjoyed and I know you can relate. I appreciate your kind words. :)

Clowncar said...

I really enjoyed reading these memories, after you linked to them from my own post abut memory cookies. It's so hard to believe these amazing things get lost in time if they aren't written down, but they do. Thanks for sharing these.

Hilary said...

Thanks, Clowncar. I'm glad you dropped by to read them. :)

Unknown said...

Love it!! I love how perfectly uninhibited little kids are with their references to nipplies, uterii and sperm!! lol!!!