My youngest is ten years old, soon to be eleven, he’s so young in some ways and so very old, and wise in others. The changes in him are becoming subtle, more nuanced. His interest in things now lasts for months and years because he seems to understand the next new thing, is not necessarily the next best thing. Star Wars, Harry Potter, Legos, Celtic music, Narnia, medieval swords, World War II, Fablehaven, Gandalf, Maileg mice, these are his favorite things. But his true favorites are his family and friends. He still wakes up with a ferocious hug for me every morning, he says he loves homeschooling and believes that I am the best teacher he could have. He is getting impatient about growing so we’ve been marking his height once a week lately. He joined a swim team this year, even though it’s more his sister’s thing, and keeps me rapt on the drive home with observations about his peers. He tells me he’d like to get married one day and have a wife like me.
Twelve! The last of the tweens for my daughter, in a matter of months she’ll be a teen. Outspoken, brave, and confident, I can’t help wonder how she, especially, would be different had we chosen traditional schooling instead of homeschooling. She is hard on herself, she wants to get it “right”, she wants to be true to herself. She would rather be alone than dance to anyone else’s tune, she says she feels more comfortable around guys her age than girls, who commonly wear a “mask”. She is quick to defend others and quick to loose her temper, much to her chagrin. She loves swimming. Strong, graceful and speedy, when she finishes swim practice I can feel the vitality and peace rolling off of her. She loves her family, her brother most of all, with a fierce devotion. She still grabs for a hand when we go walking, lacing fingers together and letting them swing. She is perceptive, thoughtful, kind and says she loves having a mama like me. Our embraces are getting longer rather than shorter as she grows into a young adult, she’s smart like that.
I’ve been warned off of so many stages by other well meaning parents: Just wait till they’re two! Oh, wait for the fu*%ing fours! Ugh, the tween stage, everything is so awkward! Most recently, Get ready for the teenage years, nothing will be the same. I don’t mean to say all parents walk around with warning signs and Lord knows we all have bad days when the parenting experience feels overwhelming. BUT every single moment of being a parent to those two kids I’m talking about above has served me well. The good and bad, lovely and sad, I feel immensely grateful for it all!
I was late to your party, I thought I had experienced audio books and didn’t feel the need to add one more digital subscription to my life. I feel like I should apologize for those early thoughts seeing as how you have become such a huge influence in my day to day life.
I am a person who does not have dyslexia, living with three people who do. Two of them are my children and it took me awhile to figure all that out. I thought that maybe my kids were late bloomers, or I had not spent enough time on spelling, or they weren’t trying very hard or I hadn’t found the right kind of books to get them hooked on independent reading. Then one day, my husband was working from home and got the “up-close and personal” view of our homeschool day. “Hmmmm,” he said, “hearing the kids go through their school day reminded me a lot of my own frustrations in school. Dyslexia can be genetic, we should have them tested.”
The rest is history, or maybe I should say a new beginning. A beginning that had me whole heartedly determined that my kids were not going to miss out on a love of literature. But there is the reality that I cannot read out loud all day every day, also some books are HARD to read out loud and some don’t interest me, like what ever book came after “The Lightening Thief”! Audible doesn’t get tired or loose it’s voice, Audible doesn’t have to stop to switch the laundry or make dinner, Audible doesn’t force my kids to ONLY listen to “mom-approved quality” literature, it offers them everything, all the time.
That’s the first part, you helped my kids, and that’s huge but you also helped us as a family. You’ve given us shared friends, shared stories, shared experiences. We spent a month of evenings listening to, “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Seas” together. We laughed, held our breath, sighed with relief, and occasionally fell asleep together. We loved the shared time so much that we did “The Wind in the Willows” right after it. A long car trip would not be complete without a “Harry Potter” book, but we’ve sprinkled in dozens of others for the shorter trips in our life. A few favorites are “The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict”, “The Chronicles of Prydain”, “Whittington”. Without this audio option my husband would miss out on all of these stories, all of these experiences and people that my kids talk about.
Please keep adding to your library, please keep improving based on the suggestions of your loyal community, please keep your costs affordable so anyone and everyone can enjoy the beauty of being read a story.
Your loyal customer and big fan,
My youngest is 9 years old, the last of his single digit years. He’s an old soul, possesses an inner calm, he has not out grown his righteousness streak and I wonder if it’s simply a part of his character. He is quietly bold, I feel his presence deeply at the times he does NOT say something or does NOT react to provocation. That said, one of my great joys is to hear him wax poetic about something – anything! Like most lightly spoken people, when they DO say something, you want to listen! Once tidy, he now prefers his room……un-tidy. He has a best friend, he has a more complicated relationship with his sister that is more about choice than just being related. He holds my hand or his sister’s hand or his dad’s hand when we walk places. He gives me a morning hug and asks to be tucked in to bed at night. He loves being read to and got into biographies about Robert E. Lee this year. He also found a love for Stephen Foster, arguably America’s first pop star, you many know him from “O Susannah”. He likes Rick Riordan books, J. K. Rowling, the “Wings of Fire” series, “Johnny Tremain” and “Where The Red Fern Grows” also top his list. He skied his first black slope this year and put us all to shame on the mogals. He is kind, honest and brave.
My daughter, my fearless wonder, is 11 but if you ask her how old she is, she may reply, “I’m almost 13”. It seems she may choose to jump over year 12 altogether! She decided to quit dancing this year, which was a brave, wonderful choice. She has found a joy in art – painting, drawing, clay work, I can see this being a steady thing in her life. She’s thinking about what she’d like to be when she grows up, the answers are costume designer, architect, inventor. She struggles with school everyday and gets very sad when the results don’t line up with her expectations, it breaks my heart. But try she does and after a pep talk she’s ready to plunge in again and again. She has an excellent memory and if you get the chance to hear her recite poetry you are in for a treat. She loves being read to and always asks for another chapter when our time is up. She fell in love with “Anne of Green Gables” this year and all I can think is “of course,” she is SO like Anne. In our homeschool group of foam sword duels and nerf gun wars, she is considered one of the best fighters, even among the older kids. She is often elected the leader of the teams and relishes creating maps and assigning each player’s duties. She’s a loner, she’s courageous, she looks out for the little ones – whether little in spirit or in size. She loves animals, she still loves Toca Boca games, she could eat a hamburger and chocolate shake everyday if I let her, she sings along with the radio and dances in the car, she plays legos and likes to keep her room tidy (this is a new development).
For all the young mamas and papas out there, who are just getting started with their families, I send you love, support, encouragement, peace, and rest.
Over a year ago I did a post on what 6 and 8 looks like and it’s something I find myself going back to read over and over. So before these years pass me by here’s a snapshot of 7 and 9.
My 9 year old daughter now poses for pictures, she talks about how the zoo offends her, “I mean what if you were a lion, do you want a million kids passing by and tapping on the glass while you are bored out of your mind?!?! It’s just wrong.” She’s ready for more independence, walks around the neighborhood by herself, bikes to the park on her own, wants more time with her peers. She still likes a hug first thing in the morning. She still has her brother sleep over every night on the couch in her room. Tears have started to fall for incomprehensible reasons, she calls these moments growing pains and it’s terrifying when I consider adolescence in this force that is my daughter. She’s one of the coolest people I know.
My 7 year old son dances when no one (except my daughter) is watching and boy can he move. His “R” sound is still soft and it makes him seem younger than he is. He gets frustrated when his sister is able to catch on to things faster than he can (like skiing) but his careful personality pays off when he explains how NOT to fall off a ski lift to his older sister (which, of course, she did). He asked me this week if I knew the bad word that rhymes with “buck”. The bad words he’s currently aware of include “stupid” and “shut up” so times are changing! He still cuddles and is generous and thoughtful like his dad. He’s one of the kindest people I know.
This crazy parenting experience provides something new with every passing year. I wonder if anyone ever feels like they are good at this job/role? On one hand I can’t believe I have the privilege of helping these little beings grow, on the other I cannot believe the challenge of helping these little beings grow – what a mix! To all the parents out there, here’s to us!
Last night my daughter, age 8, and I had dinner on our own. Here’s a snippet from our tete-a-tete:
Me – You think you’ll like to drive when you are 16? Maybe take some road trips?
Her – Mom, let’s just live in the present.
Also, here’s a game I’ve been playing when sitting at stop lights, waiting in lines, etc.
Someone tells you, “You have two weeks to live.”
Sure, it’s not as fun as playing Dots….but do you really want to spend your last two weeks playing phone games?
I keep find myself saying, “I love this stage”, “I love this time”. I love taking them to a museum.
I love handing over a sketch pad and pencil and instead of worrying about them defiling works of art, they draw their own interpretation and give me their thoughts and feelings about the piece.
I love taking a walk and listening to their jokes and stories. I love sitting down and having them read to me, instead of me reading to them – although that still rocks too.
I love hearing them discuss things like: Who wrote the Bible? Why is this called a car? Why do you wear high heels if they hurt your feet?
I love hearing my son talk about his second best friend and when I ask, “who’s your first?” He answers, “my sister”.
I love being able to say “Calm down, let’s talk about this” and they can and we do.
I love that they have music tastes, favorite restaurants and movies.
First words and first steps are cool. Late night nursing, shoveling in the first bite of food, embracing the concept of the toilet – all wonderful.
But feeling like I’m sharing my life with kindred spirits who are so uniquely themselves is heaven.
All photos are from The Modern Museum in Ft. Worth, TX.
We had the wonderful opportunity to host a couple French girls at our home in Texas this summer. They are sisters, ages 15 and 16. They traveled, for their first time, to the US leaving behind their parents, younger brother and their dreamy sea side town near Marseille. I have a feeling we hit the jackpot with these lovely girls, they baked for us, worked hard at using their english, played with our children for HOURS, helped clean up, did dishes. Yes I’ve since heard not everyones’ foreign exchange is quite as……..beneficial. The best was their overall attitude, up for anything and eager to enjoy. Touring around Dallas during the hot months of summer is far from ideal but what unexpected surprises it delivered!
When was the last time you played tour guide in your own town? Personally speaking it had been a LONG time. It rekindled a fondness I had lost for my home base, showed me new sides to a city I’ve lived in for decades, brought appreciation to the fun surrounding Dallas whether 30 minutes or 3 hours away.
The French girls marveled at the size of hamburgers they were served, at waffles shaped like the fair state of Texas, they squealed in delight at the awesomeness of Buffalo Exchange loving that their dollars could accomplish so much! They had opinions about art and music. They had ideas about what they planned to do with their lives. The girls seemed happier in museums and parks than in shopping malls. During quiet moments neither grabbed for an electronic distraction, they journaled, edited photos, sketched, napped.
As for our side of the experience, their stay was one of the greatest gifts I could have been given. Living with teenagers opened my eyes to what a truly short time it is until I have teenagers of my own; who can do things like travel to far away places all by themselves. It reminded me of the things I want them to know and practice as they grow-up. It reminded me more of what my role as their mom is……lately my role has felt like the “No Police”. Can I do this? NO. Can I have this? NO. May I eat this? NO. You get the picture, I hate that lady, everyone hates that lady, she’s so controlling! My kids require guidance, support and love, I no longer need to save them from the dangers of electrical outlets, those days have passed. I need to get with the new program if I want teenagers who will bake a pie for their foreign parent hosts’.
Merci Clem and Ro, thanks for teaching me a new language.