for the two weeks that quinn was gone leading up to yesterday (and the start of our two weeks together! yay!) i sent him some advent notes to open each day… and i’m going to store them here for him to be able to look back on someday.
December 10: One thing I love about you, Quinn, is your laugh. It makes me proud that one of the things your karate teachers said about you early on is that you are the resident “smile-bringer” of the dojo. I love hearing your musical laughter when you hear, read, or see something that tickles you. Laughter is such a gift, because even as it helps the person laughing feel good, it is helping the people around him feel good as well. Here is a joke for today:
p.s. 10 is a great number! Can you believe you will turn 10 years old in just a few short months?!
December 11: Dear Quinn, I admire your confidence. I think it was so cool to watch you stand up in front of your class and give a presentation about bearded dragons, and seem natural, like you were just having a conversation. You seem very confident when you do your blue belt forms out on the karate mat. One of my wishes for you is that you maintain that confidence in all you do throughout your life. You told me recently that you have at least four jobs you want to have as a grown up: 1. a musician 2. a famous kenpo teacher 3. a paleontologist and 4. a game designer. I have no doubt you will do so many amazing things! Glad I get to watch you soar.
drawing by Quinn, 2014
December 12: Dear Quinn, I value your kindness. This world needs more people like you. It is so nice to watch you being friends with other people, regardless of their age, abilities, gender, or anything else about them. It’s obvious to me that all the people you come into contact with end up liking you, because you act with kindness towards them, and accept them for who they are. It makes a mama heart happy to see this in you. You are an example to people much older than you, including me. I did not always feel like I wanted to be friends with everyone in my school, the way you do. It has taken me a long time to realize that everyone has something to offer in friendship, even if they don’t seem like it at first. You are teaching me that lesson! You are a wonderfully kind human being, and I’m proud to be around you.
I love that you are in tune with your animal spirit helpers. You’re a guy who is in touch with the natural world, and I think that is so important. You’re one of the people who cares about the Earth strongly enough to make a difference. I think your owl spirit helper is a good friend. I’m sure you have your own things you know about owl, but to me, owl is stealth, flying on silent wings, going silently and subtly. Without a fuss, without reactiveness. Owl is watchful, with those big eyes. And of course, wise! Owl is like a ninja! Owl is also a bringer of healing and renewal. I see all these wonderful traits in you! (If only you could fly!)
You are brave! Like a Gryffindor. Like a rebel Jedi knight. I think you could do anything you set your mind to doing. I see a lot of courage in your character! I admire your bravery and courage. It’s just one more thing that is great about you!
Dear Quinn, I wish for you this winter to have some snow! I have not always appreciated snow, but watching you play in the snow gives me great joy. I can deal with my face feeling like it wants to fall off and my fingers turn into icicles, if I get to watch you having fun.
I do not, however, wish for you to experience sleet. (Whatever sleet is!) Love, mama
I think you have the quality of Indomitable spirit in great measure. You are not a mean or imposing or intimidating person, and I think it can be misunderstood that indomitable (unbeatable) means you have to be a super tough guy. I don’t think so. I think it means you are resilient, and that you have a spirit that never gives up. And these are things I see in you in all different areas of your life. You are a positive person, you bounce back from disappointments with amazing resilience, and you are determined in a way that I think exemplifies indomitable spirit. In case you were wondering, I think you’re great!
Dear Quinn, If there isn’t going to be snow, at least we have Calvin and Hobbes so we can experience it vicariously. Love, mama
When I look at you, I see a guy who has integrity, and a well-calibrated moral compass. That means you know what is right, and what is wrong, and you point yourself in the right direction. This is something I’ve noticed about you all your life. One thing I’ve observed is that you align yourself with characters in stories you love who are the “good guys.” You’ve been a fan of guys like Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker all along. You’re like a sunflower… they always turn their faces towards the sun (they’re heliotropes!) and you are like that when it comes to the goodness in the world. Integrity has a lot to do with that. Our choices have meaning. Harry’s aim to disarm even when his opponents are dueling to kill illustrates his commitment to keeping his own soul intact and aligned with the light. That is a way he has strong integrity. When you first started to do good guys and bad guys in your playing, it was easy to find the hero, and easy to put characters into one box or the other: good guy or villain. As you’ve grown, you’ve started realizing there is a lot of gray area and people aren’t always as easy to put in an either/or category. I am watching you absorb these subtle shades of gray in the stories you enjoy. One theme is that there is always a path back to the light, another choice to be made, no matter how far a “villain” has crossed over to the dark side. The dark side may tempt someone, but it is always possible to turn back towards the light. Sometimes, one who has turned dark comes back to be the most valiant of the good guys. But it is something I hold dear about you, that you have always identified through and through with the most light-bringing and life-affirming of characters. The ones who have always been on the light side, and never wavered. You are and, I trust, will always remain steadfastly one of the good guys.
I like your vocabulary. I think you are amazing at choosing the absolute best word for the sentence. You’re not one to take the easy route when it comes to finding a way to tell about something. You speak of captains “slain” and crew “perishing” when your stories of pirates come out. Then you’re onto paleontology, using words like “excavate” and “reconstruct.” You talk about pain that “sears”, and “loopholes” in a plan. Planes “taxiing,” “squadrons” battling, healers in an “infirmary,” a “dubious” character, a “pelagic” emergency, an instance of feeling “dumbfounded” or “rambunctious”. It’s also the way you weave words together that I love, because you’re very poetic. Last year you told me, “when you yawn, it puts electric needles in your balloon and pops it.” When you were 6 and learning to read silently, you told me, “I can just read it to myself in unhearable talking!” When you were 5 and we watched the Alice in Wonderland dance performance, you told me, “I liked it so much! it was like hundreds of toys, being painted out of a box!” When you were 3, you described the weather by saying, “the trees are making it wind and the wind is waving goodbye…” and you told me, “the rain comes out of the moon’s tummy!” And one of my favorites, the first time you went to the old dragon house (age 4) you said, “it feels good to me in here! I feel like I might explode with excitement, like I’m inside a box that’s full of pomegranates! With two mice!” I love you and all your words. Love, mama
You are a courteous dude. I think that you really embody all of the black belt principles, and courtesy is no exception. When I think of courtesy, I sometimes think of the Why behind people’s courteous actions. When some people display what are known as “good manners”, I think they sometimes do it more out of a sense of doing what they were told to do or to not get into trouble, instead of doing out of their own moral compass of integrity telling them to do it for the right reasons. When it comes to you, I see you treating others with courtesy out of a real sense of wanting to do the right thing, because you’ve internalized the golden rule and have put thought into what it means to treat others how you want to be treated. This is a much more deep and meaningful way to be courteous in the world, and it is a blessing to see you acting in this way towards your fellow human beings. You’ve talked about one of your strengths of “Being A Good Friend” and I couldn’t agree more. I think you’re terrific at being a friend! And you’re a friend a person can really count on, who won’t abandon them when the going gets tough, who cares about who the person really is and accepts them in all their uniqueness. You’re a really quull dude, I hope you know. I love you!
December 21: Happy Solstice!
“somewhere out there, beneath the pale moonlight, someone’s thinking of me and loving me tonight…” -Fievel Mouskowitz
a story from 8-4-2009 (Quinn age 2):
At bedtime, Quinn asked if I would call Dada on the phone… so I did and he told Dada “yeah” to whatever question he was asking Quinn, and then said, “I’m having milk” and then to me said, “I’m handing it back to you.” (ha!) Then I said do you want to say night night to Dada? Quinn said, “yeah.” He told Dada “night night” and handed it back again. Then we laid down again for more milk, but soon he said, “I know, let’s go to the beach!” I said, honey I think it would be fun to go to the beach tomorrow, but right now the sun has already gone night night….” and he was bummed. But then I said, “how about we talk to the ocean and tell it night night and we’ll see it tomorrow?”
Quinn asked, “can you call the ocean on the phone mama?”
Today I want to remind you that no matter where you are, you can always look up at the sky and it will always be the same sky that I can look up and see above me. when I look up at the sky tonight on solstice, I will send hugs and kisses on the moon and stars for you. that is one of the reasons I love our saying… “I love you as big as the sky! as big as the ocean! all the way to the moon and back again! 9 quintillion times!” because… it’s so big! and it’s there, no matter how far apart we are. I miss you and I look forward to seeing you soon! I love you! (you know how big!)
we’re never far apart, you’re always in my heart!
When you were 3, you made this observation of the moon, sometime around winter solstice: “the moon is pulling its cloud blankets up over itself.” I hope you are snuggly and warm when you pull your blankets over yourself tonight, under the moon that is shining down on both of us.
You make this season of magic and wonder so… magical and wonderful! I don’t know a lot of people who are so fervently excited about advent. It has been a joy to watch you take delight in the small daily rituals that we have invented (advented?) and adopted and evolved over the years of your life. You are SO much FUN! I have many memories of you at younger ages, positively impatient with how slowly the days were going by until Christmas or Solstice. You have mellowed out as you’ve gotten older and learned to enjoy the present moment more and more. But you’ve still retained your sense of magic and wonder, and it’s a wonderful thing! I love hanging out with you around this time of year, and catching some of the joy that bubbles up from you. I can’t help but join in the excitement! I love adventing with you. Love, mama
I’m overflowing with joy that you will be at my house again tonight! Here’s a boat load of “Quinn loves boats” stories to celebrate!
When you were almost four, you looked into the woodstove and said,“the orange is like the sea. There is dark orange below and light orange on top. The log is the boat, floating on the sea. The sparkles are the cleats on the boat. The steam is the lines on the boat.” One time when you were 5, you wrote a song that went like this:
“and so i set three crab traps
and went to another place
and set three more
and set three more in another place
and set three more in another place
and then there was only three crab traps left
so i went to another place
and set them…….”
Also at age 5, you used boat terminology to remember that “the letter E has 3 crossbars and 2 canoe cracks!” Also, “look at all the O’s on this page. They look like buoys marching in a line!” (of course you loved Q’s even better- they have a little bit of rope tied on, so they can be crab traps!)
When you were 3 and practicing drawing, you found it important to connect things- when you drew the eyes on people, you “attached” them with string to the skull. Or if the lines we use to draw the boat don’t meet up perfectly, you’d lash them together with some rope and then advise me to “keep your sure on you to never ever untie that line, ever!” You also liked to draw arrows so things knew which way they were going. “And here is an arrow pointing which way the little green boat is going. It’s going to the orange house with just mama because quinn is at the shop with dada.”
I asked, “did mama take quinn to the shop in the boat?”
You replied, “yeah. That’s the way some people do it. You poke a lot of holes in the road, and it makes water. Then you don’t drive your cars, you drive your boats and canoes.”
Love you boat boy! Love, mama
December 24: story of eagle boy and the baby bear by Quinn (12-24-2010, age 3)
“one day there was a boy who flapped his hands with his arms out wide as he was pretending he was an eagle, and FLEW off! one day when the eagle boy was playing in the forest he heared a voice saying HELP HELP HELP! and flew out of the forest- he stopped playing and flew out of the forest and ALL the way and landed on a beach and walked to the edge and saw a little bear on an isl- washing up on an island. and then he saw that the baby bear was safe and washed up on the island. he had to find the mama and dada for th bear. i was walking and i saw him in the water as he floated to the island. ‘that won’t do,’ said the boy. alright. and if that happened, i would have to build a boat for y- a canoe for you. and you can sail. so the eagle boy made uh a kind of sort of canoe raft and threw it right in SPLASH in the water. the baby bear pulled the island aboard… the baby bear jumped off the island onto the raft canoe and pulled the island on board. and the um eagle boy THREW a paddle down. the baby bear caught it, and paddled his way back to his mama and dada bear. and the eagle boy flew back to his mama and dada gir-l- his mama was a girl, his dada was a boy. ’cause it was time for lunch- ’cause it was time for eating- ’cause it was lunchtime. how’s THAT story?”
me: that’s WONDERFUL!!!
“yeah! for dessert. THAT story was good for eating for dessert. yeah. i could put lots of the story ice cream in a bowl, and put lots of dessert in there.”
Today I celebrate the stories in your heart, and I hope to enjoy lots more story ice cream in a bowl with you in years to come! Merry Christmas Eve!
December 25: Merry Christmas Quinn!!!
You are the biggest gift I have ever received in my life. You are a wonderful person, and I am glad I’ve had a chance to tell you that I think so, in detail. You are an inspiring, creative, caring, kind, courteous, courageous, fun-loving, joyful, wonderful guy. I am happy I get to be a part of your life, and so glad you chose me for a mama! I hope you have a very merry day today and look forward to a nice holiday week with you! And hanging out with you on the light side of the force.
I love you as big as the sky, as big as the ocean, all the way to the moon and back again infinite times! Love, mama