The Spark Plug at Six

Seth, you are a man of many names. Someone recently called you a “spark plug”, and that’s fitting. Pistol. Rascal. Piece of Work. Short Stack. Short Pump (said with a southern accent). Short…Fuse? Look, you’ve been kind of short.

You are also a man of many personalities. Sometimes we get whiplash trying to keep up with you. Let me demonstrate:

Swagger.

Swagger.

King of the Mountain. Well, YOUR mountain, anyway.

King of the Mountain. Well, YOUR mountain, anyway.

Full-on HAM.

Full-on HAM.

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Tiny AND sleepy!

Brother. Convincer. Exert-er-of-will.

Brother. Convincer. Exert-er-of-will.

Man of Mystery...

Interstate Man of Mystery…

I...DON'T...know. But it's my favorite.

I…don’t…KNOW! But it’s my favorite.

So, now you’re another year older and we’re another year wiser deafer grayer. You have changed so much over this year! As a newly-minted five-year-old, you’d just started preK, you’d just begun to fine-tune your sense of humor, and you’d only traveled in the Midwest (save for one plane flight in infancy). Now you are a very worldly six-year-old: preK graduate, road-tripper, entertainer, full-on geek, Kindergartner extraordinairre, confident and effervescent and eager and loving and able to push buttons when brawn won’t get you what you want. “I’ve got the brains to match the brawn” is one of your catchphrases, I kid you not. And you should know that it’s true. Your will is just as strong as any muscle in your body, including your wonderful heart. We have never once doubted your sentience, because you will never let us forget you’re down there. (Enough of the short jokes, though, because you grew several inches this year too and I’m almost convinced you might not end up with your dad’s family’s legs after all.)

You might have a Douglas-like stature, but you are actually a rabid Lincoln fan. For "realzies", as you are apt to say.

You might be short like Douglas, but you are actually a rabid Lincoln fan. “For realzies”, as you are apt to say.

In short (ha!) you are never, ever boring. You abhor all things “BO-RRRRRRRING!” so it only makes sense that you would place a high value on mixing it up, keeping us guessing. From exasperating to hilarious to sublime and all things in between, our lives would not be the same without you in it.

Padawan.

With your first crush…oh, you ardently loved her!

Pretty much your self-appointed job title.

Pretty much your self-appointed job title.

You at the sea. And the whole wide world before you.

You at the sea for the very first time. And the whole wide world before you.

It's hard walking the whole block on short legs without stopping to rest.

It’s hard walking the whole block on short legs without stopping to rest.

You love your sugar.

You love your sugar.

You spin me right round, baby, right round...

You spin me right round, baby, right round…

You are a little love, too, for all my talk of your swagger. At bedtime, you still want me lying right next to you, smothering me with hugs and kisses and nuzzles until you drift into sweet, soft slumber. You look like my baby, then, even though you aren’t a baby any longer. I always reassure you, though, when you get a bit insecure about growing up: you will always be MY baby, even if you aren’t a baby. That shouldn’t make sense to you but it does, because you have a certain preternatural wisdom about you, too. You still claim you’d like to marry me, and tell Joe (not Papa or Dad, but JOE, like he’s your rival) that you kiss me more than he does. We try to show you up by kissing in front of you more often, then, but you counter with more kisses of your own. I’ll admit it…I somehow am stuck between wanting you to move on to one of your school loves (which: they are many, and intense, as I would expect from you) and wanting you to love me forever so I don’t have to share. But your love is wide as the sky, and there is more than enough to go around this whole wide world. I hope you always bubble over with your friendliness and love. I hope you always bend the ear of a stranger, or show concern for someone in trouble. You notice, and you give so freely. It’s a wonder to behold you.

Sometimes your dad and I look at one another over your perfect little blond head and silently question: what hath we wrought? In a few words: Mayhem. Joy. Volume. Pop-culture sponge/parrot. Ladies’ man. Napoleon Bonaparte part deux. A walking, talking thrill ride.

Thanks for taking us with you. We never knew how much we wanted to be on the roller-coaster that is you, but here’s hoping you’ll keep us along for all the ups-and-downs.

Baby, you're a firework!

Baby, you’re a firework!

Happy birthday, Seth.

Categories: Mostly Me, Seth | 4 Comments

How Do You Hold a Moonbeam In Your Hand?

During several months of my sixth-grade life, I became someone completely different. Brigitta. For when I was in sixth grade, I auditioned for and got the part of one of the VonTrapp children in the local high school production of The Sound of Music.

I couldn't find the old newspaper clipping of me in the show, so instead enjoy this lovely artist rendering of what I'm sure we looked like in the local high school production.

I couldn’t find the old newspaper clipping of me in the show, so instead enjoy this lovely artist rendering of what I’m sure we looked like in the local high school production.

Even before that year, I had a love affair with The Sound of Music. Remember how they used to show it, once a year, as a “television event”? The whole family would sit down together (was it on Easter?) and watch Maria leave the Abbey for a regular palace, with a butler and everything! And on her way there, she sang the most wonderful song about digging deep to find the confidence to face new challenges, swinging her guitar and carpetbag in wide, self-assured circles. I wanted that confidence “that the world could all be mine”.

I idolize.

I idolize.

So imagine my delight when my eldest, himself entering sixth grade, expressed interest in watching one of my all-time favorite movies with me. Even after hearing that my favorite is an old musical with Nazis and nuns. Well, maybe because it had Nazis and nuns. He was charmed by my quaint recollection of televised events; imagine the Netflix Generation having a set day and time when they had to sit down and watch a show straight through. With commercials. (Incidentally, I still remembered exactly where each commercial break occurred, even though we watched it in a very modern DVD format.)

Anyway, we watched it together over two nights during the last week of summer vacation. A curious thing happened: I found my love for the musical, already profound, grew 300% in the presence of my son. I mouthed all the words (I know them all!) and cried like a baby for most of the first half. He laughed in all the right places (WHEEEEEEE!), he immediately guessed which character I’d played on stage (when Brigitta walks into the military introduction drill reading a book, he guffawed and said, “No WAY! That is too perfect!”) But I was also so aware that he was exactly at the place I was at when I became immersed in Salzburg, solfeggio, and stage-acting. There, in that sixth-grade place, I fell in love with musical theater, with a group of high school kids who were gracious enough to treat us like equals, and even had my first enormous crush on a boy. And sitting next to me, watching the VonTrapps fall in love with singing, was a boy who could very well experience all those huge, life-shifting emotions at any time himself, if he hadn’t already. Where has the time gone? How is it that it slides around us, as we swim against the current of school and passions and mundane household tasks and just…life? I wanted to slow that moment down, but I knew all I could do was savor it. Because you can’t keep a wave upon the sand, and, luminous though he is, I can’t hold my son, my moonbeam, in my hand.

I couldn’t help feeling a bit rueful listening to the young lovers singing at the gazebo, remembering that it was the first duet I sang (in the relative privacy of my dorm room) with my dear departed friend, whose voice I can only hear now on one inadaquate CD or, occasionally, in my memory. The other music from that particular show is woven into our family tapestry to an extent I didn’t fully realize until I shared it, in its entirety, with Maxwell. His eyes lit up when he recognized the opening melody on the mountaintop, because I’ve sung or hummed about the brook tripping and falling over the stones, and filling the loneliness of my heart with nature’s song, ever since he could remember. I also sang about doorbells, sleighbells, and schnitzel with noodle on the regular, and Edelweiss is basically our family lullaby. But my babies are grown…I can really only rock one in my arms anymore, and even that is no easy task.

I could feel sad about the bee sting of time slipping by, day by day, until somehow I have a middle-school (!) aged son who could explain to his dad, with concise economy and wisdom, the dynamics between the Baroness Schraeder and Maria on the night the postulate runs back to the Abbey.

But instead, I find myself opening my arms wide on the hilltop and embracing the world just as it is now.

My life is full of my favorite things.

My life is full of my favorite things.

*Much to the inevitable dismay of one certain Crazy Aunt, I prefer to contain my yodeling about goatherds to the confines of my shower. Because that is the only place I can pretend I even know how to yodel.

The shower is the only place for yodeling.

The shower is the only place for yodeling.

P.S. If you caught yourself singing in your head every time I referenced a song lyric in the above entry, please do yourself a favor and check out this humorous letter courtesy of the Baroness and, my personal favorite, this memo from the Mother Abbess. You’ll never regret it.

Categories: Max, Mostly Me | 3 Comments