Dec 5, 2008

7th Birthday Lessons

I'm the father of a seven year old. I should be surprised, shocked, amazed that he's so old, but I've been with him so daily recently and for most of his 2,555 days that it feels natural. That's just who he is - a talking, joking, knitting, climbing, tricking, eating eating eating, happy (and, in the photos, feeding and releasing a Goldcrest bird) Galen.

And he is a happy boy. So happy, contented, secure, confidant since our move. Since our move to a rural location with land, our move to have more time as a family together, our move to have me be a full-time dad, our move to put our family as a top priority and live with natural rhythms. Seeing how quickly he's blossomed has been the strongest affirmation we could have asked for.

He even grew a full inch in the first 2 months here. His whole body saying "Yes, I can grow here, I can be free here." He did the same with walking, waiting and waiting until the exact day that we finished our travels and moved into our basement suite in Vancouver to finally (at 18 months) take his first walk. Our bodies know Home.

As always, the birth celebration lasts several days, with several moments of beauty:

- When buying birthday fruit to share with his class the following day, I was shocked at the price of organic grapes (yes, one of the special treats is buying non-local). We discussed it in front of the cashier and agreed to put them back, so the man behind us in line bought them for us. What a simple act of beauty from a total stranger, who in his own basket had nothing fancy, organic or even remotely healthy. He just saw a chance to bring more Joy to a child and was not choked with our usual fear of reaching out, and Galen and I were open enough to accept the generosity with true thankfulness and appreciation (as was his class the next day)

- We celebrated his last night of being 6 by looking at the full year of photos, starting with the imfamous "Gross Party" last year (including a barf-snot cake so disgusting that even kids had trouble eating it). We walked through the year together, remembering good times and people, growth, wonder.

- Breakfast crepes, and a perfectly modest and thoughtful array of gifts throughout the day from family and us - necklace, knitting needles, crystals, "Diablo" circus sticks, slippers, winter socks, crayons, an all-wooden math game, RESP contributions. Gifts that honoured his spirit and development, honoured our family's commitment to respectful living on this earth, and augmented rather than dominated the day.

- Birthday dinner with our neighbours - 2 Waldorf teachers and their 3 kids who are glued to ours as often as possible. Another perfect gift and 2 birthday desserts completed the feast.

- This Sunday will be the official birthday party with 7 school friends - selecting was a big big task, a nice reflection of the real friendships he's quickly forging here. We've been busy with final childproofing (especially railings) of the hayloft above the barn for its official christening as the kids massive open-air playspace. Party will end up there after a scavenger hunt throughout our farm, forest and creek - always so much to do outdoors, rain or shine, connection to the seasons and elements.

So i sit on this rainy Friday night feeling so grateful for the space we've managed to create for our children to grow and flourish. Neighbours, trees, family, time, rituals, air - it's all coming together and shines through the eyes of our dancing prancing 7-year-old.

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