On Sunday, some of Ilya's besties and their parents came over for a playdate. Raffi handled being the oldest kid in the room decently well, only dramatically losing his temper once when Ilya stole a cardboard box that he had been fashioning into a Minecraft (?) helmet. One of the parents said a sentence that included the word "critique" at one point, and Raffi, who hadn't seemed to be listening, wheeled around and exclaimed "We're learning about that word at my school!" He went on to define "critique." I beamed with pride, of course. Who is this angel child, this intellectual elder statesman of kids?
This kind of thing would have been unimaginable a year ago, hilarious three years ago. If three year old Raffi had entertained several three year old guests, someone would have been bitten or punched in the face within the first ten minutes. We would have spent the entire time yelling and threatening ineffectively; it would have been a series of timeouts and tantrums punctuated by brief, awkward spells of tentative peace. Whereas Ilya and his pals just formed their own independent society and occasionally came to us with polite complaints about someone not sharing, or requests for more bagels. I think often of how lucky I am to have had these children in the order I had them, so that I never take Ilya's baseline civility for granted.
We've lived in our apartment for a year now. I love this apartment, so much. It's the best place we've ever lived, by far. Its one flaw is that it doesn't get a ton of light -- the main room only has one big window. If you lower the shade on this one window the room feels basement-y, even at night, so we basically never lower the shade. The other day I was walking down the opposite side of the street, directly opposite our apartment, at night, a rare occurrence -- I must have made a choice to mix things up by walking on that side. I looked up into my own window and realized how far back into that room any casual observer can see, when it's lit up in there and dark outside. You can see my whole family's life in that box, a tableau vivant of our domesticity. We should probably close the blind at night, I guess. But I would rather have the view of the street and the world outside. If you have to be in a box, you should at least have a view. If the cost is that people can see in, so be it.
I used to write about Raffi a lot, and then I stopped. I don't think this was out of any conscious urge to protect his privacy, or my own. It was more that it was impossible to get him into focus. He was moving so fast. He still is.
One of the weird things he does lately is that he'll talk in a snide, sarcastic tone of voice that he's learned from TV or older kids. But because he doesn't actually understand sarcasm yet, or how to make fun of people in anything besides the most direct, obvious way ("poophead" "idiot" "dumdum"), his insulting tone is always devoid of mean content. I do a double-take every time, though. Someday soon he will figure out how to be mean to me on purpose. I probably won't die, though I'm sure I'll momentarily want to.
We got to observe his class yesterday and were both impressed and horrified by how strict his school is. The kids had to do a partnered activity, but they had the option not to work with a partner and he chose to work alone. Keith was freaked out by this; "Raffi has no friends!" he whispered to me. I gave him a stare of pure rage. Of course Raffi has friends. Who wouldn't want to be friends with the walking party that is Raffi? But later, I asked him about it and he told me the short list of people he'll accept as partners (or maybe who will accept him as partners.) There is already so much about his life I don't know about or understand.
He tried to start calling me "mom" because "mama" feels too babyish but I have asked him to please keep calling me mama.
I know you are likely bombarded with gift guides, but I like to use gift guide season to recommend some unexpected things that might make someone in your life (or you) happier as we head into the darkest month. Premium subscribers will get that email later this week.