Thursday, May 26, 2011

The First.

My newphew, Ramsis, graduates from 8th grade today setting off a chain reaction of graduations, quincenearas, travels, adventures, jobs and - sooner than we think - marriages and babies. As of today, I'm practically a great-grandmother. (If you've ever heard me rant this to my children, it all begins with kindergarten.)

Ramsis is the oldest child of my husband's younger brother, the first grandchild, my very first nephew. He's always been the first and always will be(much to Lucy's chagrin). We are a close family as extended ones go. Ram wears his first-ness with incredible good grace, although to hear his twelve younger rivals (three sisters and nine cousins) tell it he's just this side of Darth Vadar. It comes with the territory and if there's any reward in taking on this great burden it is that for as much as they fuss and bother, all twelve of these little ones - and their attendant parents - adore Ram and admire how well he takes the beatings that come with being first.

Ramsis is smart - sometimes too much for his own good - and that smartness comes out in ways that both humor and haunt the adults in the family. That, too, has served to dilute the effect of later iterations of Rodriguezes, who learn from his mistakes when and how to keep one's little trap shut or one's little bottom in a chair. When they don't remember, Ram is often the first to correct, gently, firmly, just like a first should.

He is warm and kind and thoughtful, sometimes channeling one uncle with his understated, subtle presence and other times giving over to the other in his puppy-like enthusiasm and silliness. I'll let Joe and Alex duke it out over who's who.

You can, and always could, have a conversation with Ram. I love that about him, especially.

He's got a terrible temper. That's his mother's fault. And his father's. And mine. And assorted aunts, uncles, grandparents, a few pets. It's a family trait; let's leave it at that.

My nephew is a charmer and a genuinely good boy, and is growing into a fine young man. He sets a terrific example for all the boys in our family. If he's made his mistakes or taken long to learn some lessons he has always been the first to try harder to get it right. He never gives up. It has served as an even better path for the boys in the family to follow - you don't start out perfect, you'll never be perfect, but you keep trying to be better.

He serves as everyone's big brother and has grown into the big shoes he's had to fill with more honesty than I think any of us could have anticipated. Lucy is a second-tier parent in our household and Ram is in his. They share a bit in the heaviness of this responsibility, but also in the reward that comes from being respected. That respect, Ram, comes not from your place but from your honor in maintaining that place, through good and bad weather.

It hasn't always been easy. Our family like all others suffers its dysfunctions. But Ram is the first to know that whatever the worry, love is the number one disposition, the first priority of everyone in our family. He was the first of the babies to be loved, he's been loved the longest and won't be allowed to forget that he is loved, with warm, too-long hugs and smoochie, wet kisses before, during and well after the desperate attempt to be cool lost vigor.

I treasure my nephew. I love him more than he knows, wish the best for him, dream big dreams for him, have high hopes for him. I am proud of him and respect him and know that this day is just a beginning, a first. Because Ram is graduating today and he is the first. He always will be.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Concert Night

Tonight, my child's elementary school will put on its annual spring performance. (There are still tix available so if you want a night of really remarkable music for a measly 2 bucks, let me know.) My husband will be on stage for one of the performances, because the band conductor has invited parents to join the full intermediate and concert bands, along with some former students now in high school, to do a smashing grand finale. He's excited - the kids are - everyone's excited. It's exciting!

And here's why, as my husband so eloquently put it to me this morning when he got back from his last rehearsal:

The full performance is complex, rousing, impressive. When the audience hears it, they hear this full sound, this resonance and depth and intricacy. And they attribute all of that to each one of us on the stage. But really, each one of us is just doing one little part. We're concentrating on getting our one little part right and then when it's all put together it sounds so amazing! The end result is a real thrill! He was so flushed when he told me I just had to smile.

One little part. Everyone together. Thrilling. Think about that.

Friday, May 6, 2011

You Scared Me

I lost my temper with my babies last night, over something that seemed terribly important at the time. It wasn't, of course. I tried to make amends, apologized, tucked them in. When I leaned over to kiss Sara, she whispered 'you scared me' and my heart broke. This morning, I awoke to this-

i'm silent, your deep brown eyes are in my devil-like ones.

you yell and scream, i keep moving on, writing you notes, apologizing, saying i love you, but you never budge.

you don't hold a grudge

but this is different.

we are children. what can i say? we laugh, and play and work all day.

i love you, you should love me.

don't you?

i can't feel our love, it's faded away.

you have no fear, i like it that way.

but when it gets in your hand, like a quarter or dime

you control it and make us all fall into ashes,

turn us to rashes

that never wear off.

i still look in your eyes and see the roles that you play.

the key to life, right in your eyes,

the problem and the salvation.

i love you mommy.

And I am humbled.