8 is great
8 years ago, I brought home 4 babies - 1 at a time over the course of a month and this little guy was first. Weighing 3 pounds and 11 ounces at birth, he was just over 4 pounds when I took him home. I didn't know what I was doing with a baby. It was a new experience. I made so many mistakes with him (and continue to) - I let him sleep through the night the first night home because he didn't wake me to be fed. I was thinking "this is easy." When I saw the pediatrician the next day, he scolded me for not waking Hunter up, "He has to be fed every 3 hours - he doesn't have enough glucagen storage to feed his brain if he isn't fed every 3 hours." I can now be blamed for any mental lapses he might have forever more. "Well my mother didn't make sure I had enough glucose in the brain - that's why I did that." HA HA. Anyhow, Since then, my little boy has always been the light of my life and the source of my stress at times.
When I lost his twin Preston, I felt my own sorrow, but I felt sorrow for Hunter as well. I worried about him not having the playmate, partner-in-crime etc that his brother would bring for him. So many nights, I let him sleep with us because he was scared and didn't have someone to sleep with like the girls did. He often reminded me he was lonely and would cry that he missed his brother. I don't know how he could remember Preston at 2 months of age, but I won't defy the twin-twin bond. Dad has been his partner since then and while sometimes I feel a little out of his focus and out of the loop, I am reminded that when he does something great - I am the one that he looks at, smiling, shining - "Look mom, look what I did." He is my heart.
Hunter is smart as a whip and precocious. He is succeeding in school, making all A's without effort. He haphazardly does his homework and gets it right, while the girls take painstaking efforts to get good grades. His 2nd grade teacher says he is incredibly smart and she has no concerns about his abilities but says "Imagine what he could do if he could only stay on task." I had to tell her - no matter
where we go (home, school, baseball), Hunter has difficulty focusing and paying attention. I think ADD is overly diagnosed among boys and truthfully feel this is something he will grow out of. His grandfather did! For what Hunter lacks, he makes up in charm. His teacher has shared several stories of how he is encouraging to her and makes her laugh. She says he tells her everyday - "Ms. Kruse, you are awesome" and occasionally he commends her on a lesson being fabulous, when merited ;) He is a piece of work.
This year has brought Hunter a girlfriend. Ha Ha. She was only about 6 feet taller than him. It was short lived (as short as he is) - they danced at the Valentine's Dance and now she has moved on to greener pastures while Hunter remains in love with 1 thing: baseball. I would actually call it a "love-hate" relationship. He has been playing ball since he was about 3 years old. He excelled early on - in Tball, he was one of the kids that could throw and catch (most of the time) and would get the "outs" on the team by running kids down because he didn't trust the other players to catch the ball. As he has gotten older,there are more and more exceptional kids and Hunter has hit a rough patch. He's not the superstar all the time and it's okay!!!
He takes it so hard when he doesn't get on base. His ability to control his emotions has been a challenge. Adversity isn't something he is good at. (I wonder where he gets it). We have tried so many tactics (reward/punishment, long talks, sitting out of a game/benching him, etc) to try to get him to recognize his attitude is everything. After one game where he threw a tantrum, I was ready to spank him. Instead, I talked to him and remained calm. He stayed out of that game and then I had my dear friend and fellow therapist do some work with him to help. She asked him to draw something he really liked about himself. He drew himself hitting the ball and said, "I love it when I get on base. I especially love it when I get a home run." She asked him to draw something he didn't like about himself and he drew a picture of an umpire calling "strike 3" and the pitcher smiling. He was crying in the picture.
pic above - what it feels like to hit the ball - the pitcher cries
pic above - what it feels like to strike out
She asked him how it feels to strike out. He thought about it and came up with "guilty." When she shared that with me, I thought - "That's the last emotion I would have thought he would have come up with. Anger, yes. Sad, yes. But, guilty? He feels like he is not only letting himself down, but his team down when he is out - it's all his fault in his mind if they don't win. I wanted to cry and I was so glad I didn't spank him. I love this boy so much - I wish he could get on base every time and yet, that's not baseball. He has to learn to deal with it. My friend shared with him that he had to learn to like the part of himself that strikes out as much as the part of himself that gets on base. She asked him to think about how he could do that. He said - "I just have to try my best." I know he mentally got it. Emotionally is another story. I have thought about quitting baseball altogether but that thought makes him terrified. He says "It's my life. I love it."
How do you teach an 8 year old to manage feelings of failure when most adults have difficulty coping with it. Go to a bar - its full of people having difficulty coping with failure! So, church and biblical teachings have been something I am trying to reinforce with him - play hard, pray hard and how would Jesus want you to act? Something has to work! He will be the kid out there making the sign of the cross, clasping his little hands and saying "Jesus, I know it's just baseball but can you help me put my skills to work here and not cry if I don't get on base?"
Win or lose - He's my "Hit Man" Affectionately termed by his beloved ex-coach and now a family friend Mr. Lapin. Hunter grew on him!
Alexandria was my 2nd beautiful baby home 8 + years ago. The oldest and the 2nd biggest at 3 pounds 10 1/2 and almost 5 pounds when she came home! She is now 50 pounds! The big 5-0. Gabrielle was the 3rd born at 3 lb 5 oz and is right at 50 pounds now too. How can I talk about 1 without talking about the other? They are inseparable. Over the years, they have been such a source of joy to me. My girly girls who my husband is so desperately trying to turn into tomboys. They go everywhere with me. Empathy and kindness emanate from them - from their compassion for pets to their compassion for people. This truly makes me proud. If someone is sad, they want to cheer them up. They find the beauty in everyone. There was once a lady who was celebrating her 90th birthday at a restaurant and they made this lady's day by telling her how "pretty" she was. Beauty is everywhere - in their eyes. I have gained so much weight over the last few years with my thyroid disorder and medications to suppress my thyroid, plus being too darn busy to go the gym. It has been difficult for me to be overweight. The girls will cheer me up when they tell me - "Mommy you are beautiful." I love them for their kindness. They are beautiful INSIDE and out.
3 years old
School has been challenging! 1st grade was horrifying - the expectations for 1st graders is so much different than when I was growing up and it just keeps getting more difficult. Last year, we had pretty much "mommy boot camp" every night to try to get them where they need to be. Over the summers, we go to an expensive reading program offered through Valencia to try to improve reading ability. This year, my girls have excelled. They still have to work very hard and sometimes we still have bootcamp. This last couple of weeks, they have had a unit on money and it is KILLING ME! They don't grasp it. Still, their grade are A/B and each of them have had all A's honor roll once! Exciting progress.
Pic above - Gabby's grades on the left; Allie's on the right
Their love is dance - We have been with CAD (Clermont Academy of Dance) for the last 3 years. This is one amazing dance school. Their competition team wins 1st place in something at Nationals every year. This school's older girls spend all their hours at the studio after school so guess what - there is no time for all the bad things that teenagers can be tempted by. I am hoping Alexandria and Gabrielle continue to work on their dance and dedicate themselves in this area so that the teenage years won't be so terrible! We have an upcoming recital in June and I can't wait to see their latest routine. It always makes me smile.
From the beginnings,
Until now and the journey of the next year - of 8