My youngest son Augustin Heinz Martin turned 12 a couple of days ago.
Can we just slow life down for a while. It’s moving too fast.
Gus’s birthday falls during spring break so our tradition has been to go to the Oregon beach, Cannon Beach specifically, to celebrate as a family. His sister, my oldest child and only daughter, Rachel Marianne, came home last year from Germany where she lives, to celebrate his 11th birthday.
Gus loves Cannon Beach. It has been “his days” at the beach for his birthday over the past several years. He has not even asked for a “friends” party in a while because this family time at the beach has meant so much to him, and it is just so sweet how he calls the beach his time.
We have rented this same condo each trip to the Cannon Beach area, and my Gus talks about it months in advance and we bring our kites and our sand toys and we build sand castles and go on long walks on the windy beach and we ride our bicycles in the sand to the rocky area and we look for sea salt creatures. And we make trips to town to go to the candy store and the toy store, the one that has toys that my now-12-year-old has outgrown, but that he still has an affinity for, and I celebrate that in him. He’s such a kid, such a playful kid. And, Gus likes to eat at Mo’s when we go to the beach, it’s a tradition. Even if it is not for his birthday dinner, he likes to go there, the one in Tolovana.
And, if I suggest going to a different beach besides Cannon Beach-Tolovana area during spring break, Gus insists that is just not a possibility. He wants to continue the tradition that we started years ago for spring break. And, since Gus has to share a birthday with spring break, we have honored this time.
This year, though, Gus wanted to do something different. He asked to have a friends party and he wanted it at an amusement like place, and we settled on Bullwinkles in Wilsonville. Think neon flashing lights, bright lights, and loud, with slot machines and video games and bumper boats. Perfect for kids, insane for parents.
Gus has very specific ideas of what he likes and he always has. It is something that you love as a mom but also something that drives you crazy.
When, as an example, I do not put my cell phone on “sleep mode” properly, while it is not in use, my Gus says, “Mom, sleep” as he stares at my phone in disbelief at how impossibly crazy it is that I forget.
“Mom your battery, you are ruining your battery.”
And when tucking him in at night in his bedroom, we have to get all of the corners of his sheets under the mattress tightly so no air gets through, and then the next blanket needs to be pulled to match the sheets and then the blue and green plaid comforter on the top of all of this warm cozy must be pulled to the exact corners, perfectly up to his ears and his shoulders, covering his arms up to a certain spot and then not overdone too far.
And, then the way I make his lunches. Talk about exact science.
“Mom, it’s too clumpy in the middle.”
“Mom, that’s too much Nutella.”
“Mom, you have to go all the way to the end of the bread, and you have to spread it really thinly on the bread and you have to wipe off the extra Nutella when there is too much on it.”
Some people may say that Gus needs to lighten up and get over it and not make such a big deal out of the way I spread his Nutella on his bread; and some people may think that he needs to just take it down a notch regarding how blankets are tucked in and whether my phone is on sleep mode properly.
That may be true because it sometimes drives me crazy and I just want to say, relax, it will be okay.
But at the same time, I so love that about him. Gus is particular, he has great ideas, he has opinions,and he sees things that I do not see.
I want to celebrate what makes him unique.
When I was a kid, I was particular about food myself. I remember when I was at my dad’s parents’ house in Germany, when I was about 11-years-old, about the age of my youngest child. My “Oma” was putting out different lunchmeats on a plate, salami’s and thin sliced hams and other kinds of German meats for the adults; these were the expensive kinds of meats, the kind with less fat and better cuts, more lean.
Then there was the lunch plate with salamis and thin sliced hams and other kinds of meat that was for the kids, and my Oma brought that plate out for us to top our bread with.
I think Oma thought we would not know the difference. I did.
I quietly took my mom aside and told her that I did not like the meats on that “children’s plate” and I asked her if I could have a couple of slices of the meats from the “adult” plate.
My mom has always been picky about food as well. I’d hear her talking about meat that had too much fat on it and how she could not eat it, and I’d hear her mention that certain lunch meat, especially the cheaper kind, was not good to eat. My mom would rather give us less food but good food.
So, she understood my request. She snuck a few pieces of meat from the adult plate and placed them onto a plate for me.
When my Oma saw this she asked my mom about it, and my mom explained the situation.
My Oma did not understand. “Cornelia has to learn to eat the other kind of meat. You’ll spoil her.”
My mom, with all due respect, said to her mother-in-law, that while she understood her point, she still wanted to give me the kind of meat that I could stomach, the “adult meat.” And, she even offered to give some of her items to me from her plate.
I think if we respect our kids’ ideas and likes and preferences and ideas we will have an excellent chance to develop a great relationship with them and we will see them become confident young adults whose ideas matter to the world. Young adults who have opinions and ideas about things.
The opinions and ideas of kids are important, and I want my kids to know that I respect and value them. As for imagining my youngest as a young adult, not so fast right now. I want to slow the world down for a while. And savor this age of 12. It’s so magical.