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Daphne

Truett

Truett is 11!

Truett turned 11 last week. I’m now at the point where I’m losing track of how old my kids are, like “Tru, you’re 12…, no, 10…, no, 11? Wait, you were born in 2008, which means…yeah ok 11.” And the kids will just look at me with sympathy like I am the epitome of old people problems.

I love this kid so much though, and 11 is such a great age. Look at how big this boy is now.

It’s been a whole decade ago since he was this squishy little baby face.

By all accounts, the terrible teens will be upon us in a year or so and I can’t say that I’m entirely ready for it. In preparation for this very difficult time in my life, I’ve been reading up on techniques to deal with the teenage transition.

Be prepared for mood swings, angst, frustration, emotional withdrawal, and all of the wisecracky retorts, they say. Give them space but always be there for them. Understand them but be firm at the same time. Set boundaries but provide opportunities for them to discover their own way. Know when to be a parent and when to be a friend and don’t take it personally when everything you try blows up right in your face. Basically all of the things I do not enjoy doing.

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But for now, 11 is looking pretty sweet.

11-years-old gives the best piggy back rides.

11-years-old knows how to talk about his feelings. This is a huge jump for a boy who would bury his teary face into my shirt and refuse to talk whenever he got upset. It used to be so difficult getting him to give words to how he felt; he would just power down and keep everything inside like a locked vault. Now that he’s 11, he has become more forthcoming about how he feels. It’s like all these years of telling him that we’re here for him and he can talk to us is finally paying off. And if he’s unable to vocalise his feelings, he writes them down in long letters which I’m always happy to receive.

11-years-old still goes for the hugs and kisses. I have to say that this surprised me. I wasn’t a very huggy-kissy 11-year-old and I was fully prepared for my kids to be all “Ewww mom, please stop” but Tru still leans in for a hug and kiss when I drop him off at school or at bedtime and this always makes me smile. “I love you, mom!” he says, before running off. I’ll enjoy this for as long as it lasts.

11-years-old makes an amazing fruit salad.

11-years-old is the best company. Sometimes we talk about his favourite Avengers characters or trade new jokes, sometimes he joins me for a run even though he hates running, sometimes we split a strawberry cake and sometimes we just sit together because that’s fun too.

11-years-old is great at conflict management. He knows when to take the hit and look suitably remorseful, and when to talk his way out of a situation, and when to skilfully negotiate for what he wants.

He also uses these skills to mediate between his siblings’ squabbles and if I haven’t made this clear before, watching him intervene when the younger kids are quibbling brings me so much joy. “Ok, what happened? Theo, you talk first.” he’ll tell them. The small kids will take turns explaining themselves and he will give them the same look of exasperation he’s seen so frequently on my face, then sigh and be all like “This is not a big deal guys, ok Finn, you just say sorry for hitting his Politoed so hard and Theo, the Politoed has no nerves, he’ll be fine.

Happy birthday, Truett! Being your mom for the past 11 years has been the raddest ride.

Hayley

And then I was like…

I had thought that after 11 years and 5 kids, I’ve seen all the hilarious things babies get up to, but I will say that baby Hayley has managed to surprise me.

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Last week, Theo was having a particularly emotional day after being told that he wasn’t able to have a third round of afternoon snacks. You know how it is when they start talking and increasingly feel all of the feels and their speech escalates into a high pitched “butIonlyhad3snackspleasemomI…hadfhefafkjhjeshkjfha

I was about to give him a hug and ask him to take a breath for a bit when a baby voice quipped, “It’s ok kor kor Theo, there’s no need to cry. Just talk like a normal person.

We were all like “wait a minute, did that come from baby Hayley??” and indeed it did and the big kids (even Theo) all cracked up like it was the funniest thing ever.

It’s one thing to know how to tell someone to take a chill pill, but to nail the timing and delivery with such finesse? That’s something else.

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I’m not sure how this developed but Hayley now speaks like a valley girl and I’m so here for it.

Mom, can you like, bring me to like, the playground or something?”

I’m like a bit like, y’know, hungry…can I like have a snack?

That’s way too many likes in one sentence and I like cannot. I don’t know what it means to like have a snack. Does that involve having an actual snack or just pretending to have a snack or having something that’s like a snack but not actually one?

It’s so adorable though and we have a running tally of how many likes she uses in a day. 53 is the record so far.

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I also have to tell you about the time this baby hatched an elaborate plot to sneak in some candy during bedtime because this one is impressive.

We had come back late one evening after a long day out and it was an “everybody wash up and go straight to bed” situation, which usually translates into a fair bit of mayhem. Amidst all the baby showering and pre-bed routine, nobody noticed that a pack of skittles had gone missing from the dining table.

So everyone went to bed and Hayley was climbing around my bed for 20 minutes when she was suddenly all like, “I think I want to sleep down on the mattress by myself now.” This is where I started getting suspicious because Hayley never volunteers to sleep on her mattress. She wants to be in our bed every chance she gets.

Do you want mommy to lie down with you on the mattress?

“No need!” she replies hastily.

Alright fine, as you wish.” I’ve learnt not to question it when a baby decides to do something uncharacteristically mature such as wanting to sleep in her own bed by herself. “It’s progress and I’ll take a win when there’s one,” I told myself.

All was quiet for several minutes and then I start hearing a rustling from the mattress. I turn on the light to check and sure enough, this baby was trying to open the bag of skittles as quietly as she could. I was like “Is that a bag of skittles? How did it even get here and wh…

Sorry sorry, mom! I was like trying to…um, you can keep this in the fridge!

Okay, many things had to line up for us to get here. First, she needed to plant the bag skittles strategically under the side table to keep it just out of view or she would have been busted straight off the bat. Then she had to bide her time on my bed and find an opportune moment to relocate herself to the mattress while playing it cool and convincing. That’s forward planning, delayed gratification, reading situations and improvising on the fly all happening in her brain and she might just have gotten away with the whole thing too if she had been more skilled in opening a bag without rustling.

To be clear, I don’t encourage candy-sneaking or sneaking of any sort, but I do recognise resourcefulness and this is next level.

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On an unrelated note,  here are some photos of Hayley enjoying a shake shack (took us 40 minutes in the queue) and a delicious beverage.

And this, this is what I call the just-got-busted-but-trying-to-figure-her-way-out-of-it face. I love this face.

from around here

Family

Truett’s been having a difficult time sleeping the past couple of weeks. Insomnia is rough for an adult to deal with and I can’t imagine how much worse it is when you’re 11. He wakes up several times a night and has trouble  falling back asleep so he just lies there in bed, sometimes for hours, feeling the creeping frustration that insomnia brings.

We tried every hack for curing insomnia and so far none of it has really worked. Sticking to a bedtime schedule, a warm bath, bedtime routine, calming music, essential oils, breathing techniques, light reading if it gets too long. We pray for him and sit with him in his room till he falls back asleep and tell him that he can come over to our room if he can’t sleep.

It’s been a long time since he’s wanted to cuddle up in our bed and it’s nice to have him over; it reminds me of all those nights when he would try to fall asleep in our bed as a tiny baby. He used to crawl around in bed jabbing my eyelids and yanking my hair trying to get me to wake up and play. There’s much less jabbing and yanking now but I hear him tossing and turning next to me and I reach over to tousle his hair like I used to when he was a baby. I’m not sure if it helps him to fall back asleep but I think maybe it’s a little comforting.

We talk to him about coping with anxiety and the one good thing that has come out of this is that he’s been writing us long letters about how he’s feeling, which is the sweetest.

The other kids know that he’s been going through a rough time and they’re all rallying around him trying to see what they can do to help him feel better. Finn offered to trade places and take the upper deck alone so that Tru can have some company when he sleeps, even though he’d much rather be the one sleeping next to his big brother all night. But he knows Theo isn’t going to take the upper deck alone so he volunteered. That’s what true love looks like.

Kirsten tells him to wake her up anytime so she can hang out with him in the middle of the night. Theo is like “don’t worry, kor kor, I will pat you to sleep,” then promptly falls asleep and starts snoring because he can’t even. Baby Hayley offered him her stuffed lamb, “but only for a while and I’m gonna need it back OKAY?!

We’re all a little sad that Tru is having a difficult time and we’re not quite sure how to help but this experience has reminded us that this is what family means. It’s knowing that there are people who’ve got your back and are there for you for as long as you need it.