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  • Elijah Ricks

Man-Kid

Apparently I'm going to start shifting my blog-writing time to Saturdays. It just seems to work out better for me to find the time.


Our week was quite full. Last Saturday we had awoken to a little bit of snow on the driveway. It was sunny, though, and so I invited the kids outside. At first, only Merritt joined me. He helped me shovel for about 60 seconds and then started rolling around in it. I'm not even sure it was necessary to shovel at all, though. Our asphalt driveway warms up enough in the sunshine that it usually melts away thin layers of snow. Anyway, we had fun.


Kira slept in through breakfast, and then when she woke up, she took over the kids so that I could prune our last tree. It was so cold that I thought I would just do it for a few minutes and get the bulk of it, but then I warmed up enough that I just kept going until it was done.

Now we have a big pile of branches waiting to get burned, so maybe I'll get to that today.

Kira took the kids and dog to a park as I finished up, and so then I showered and ate.

Once they were home, I fed the kids. At some point in all of the movement, a vase had broken in our laundry room. It was waiting to be taken to donate to a thrift store, and the books next to it must have fallen over and shoved it off the shelf. I swept up the bulk of it, but then Kira dealt with the rest while I was feeding the kids. Such a mess!

I was very wiped out after lunch, so I lay down for a while, then I took Avey and Jesse to several stores before coming home for the dinner and bedtime stuff.


Avey looked up her PSAT scores that night, and of course to no one's surprise we found that she scored in the 98th percentile overall for her grade level, and 99th percentile for her writing, specifically. In other words, she can already write better than almost all of my college students. We are always proud of her, but now we have more material to use in our bragging!


Sunday was a typical morning of feeding and dressing, trying to beat the clock for church. I did laundry while they were away and then got lunch going to have hot and ready for their return. Jesse tried three shrimp without any of the scampi sauce, and then he said he wanted 16 more. I hadn't planned on his appetite, so I made him an extra batch, not thinking he would actually eat them all, but he did.


Merritt spent the afternoon talking Hannah's ear off. He apparently felt the need to get her caught up on everything he had experienced or thought about since the dawn of time. She was very patient with him.


Jesse asked if it would be possible to make a ring out of a little metal flower charm that his girlfriend gave him. Avey found a band that fit Jesse alright, and so I glued them together and it worked alright. He was excited about it, although he sort of revealed that he was ready to propose. We gently talked him out of that, but he still has big plans.


In fact, I've been thinking a lot about Jesse this week, trying to understand what goes on in that 7-year-old brain of his. He very much wants to get his abs strong enough that one can see his "6-pack." He lifts weights and does sit-ups daily. He is very interested in bling, like tattoos, jewelry, flashy hairstyles, and so on. Perhaps in a different area, he has brought up on multiple occasions his belief that he can make a sort of hang-glider that would allow him to gently drift through the sky after jumping from a high point. He certainly seems to be ambitious, which is great. I think his interest in muscles and image is an attempt to look competent through confidence, or something like that. He asked me on different nights this week when he will start growing a beard, and then when he will officially be a man. When I explained that 18 is the legal age, but some cultures say you're a man at different ages, like 14, he got really interested in that. He then started to try and explain some concept of a "man-kid" to me. According to Jesse, he might be a "man-kid," because he is smarter than a lot of other kids his age, and he acts older. I explained the concept of "maturity," and he liked that a lot, thinking that he is mature. He seems to want to be quite a bit older than he actually is. Let's just hope that we can keep that within reason for a few more years...


Anyway, Kira was on the phone in meetings most of the afternoon, and so then she gave me a little break from daddy duty once she was done. We played games in the evening before bed, and then Hannah came over to join us older kids for more games, as we had no school the next day.


Kira got up rather early on Monday to get ready for a long day of clients. The kids were off of school for MLK day, so I did some last stuff for my semester prep while Merritt demanded that I watch everything he was doing, and listen to everything he thought about out loud. I eventually got my last things done, and then I gave Merritt the 1:1 attention he apparently needed so badly. He and I played a card game he has sort of learned, and then he wanted to play "chest," by which he means "chess."

He and I had played it only once the day before, where I just showed him where the pieces go, and explained the moves that 3 of the pieces can make. He mostly just likes to move one knight around. On Monday morning, as we were getting the board set up, he put all of the pieces in their correct places! That really impressed me that he remembered, and so I explained a few more of the rules, thinking he might have a knack for the game. We went through a whole game this time, with me explaining his options for every move, and what I would probably do if he made this move or that move, and we would agree which pieces he could take or I could take before either of us made a move. I made sure that it was a draw at the end, as this was just a tutorial, but I'm sure he'll beat me in no time once we play for real.


Just before noon, I decided that we all had to get out of the house and freeze our butts off, just as Dr. King would have wanted. I made everyone get dressed in their snow gear and then we picked up Hannah (who came voluntarily) and went to walk around a forest trail not too far. Apollo had a great time running around in nature, and the boys had lots of fun running down the trails and throwing stuff into a stream.


We went by a historic site where some very old cabins and a house were, and talked about what it must have been like before they had electricity and Nintendo Switches.

The kids were cold after about an hour, so I then dropped them all at home and picked up some take-and-bake pizzas for lunch. Carver ate the gluten-free one in its entirety, and the rest of us nearly finished the other one. I then took Hannah home and we took it easy the rest of the day. Kira made it home a little before bedtime, so that was nice to have the extra pair of hands and the warm hugs.


I went back to Chicago on Tuesday for the first day of the semester. I teach three courses on Tuesdays, so I'm in the classroom for most of the day. I never like the first day of class, because I feel like I come across as a real jerk, making clear that I don't tolerate nonsense excuses, I expect them to be in class on time, and all of that. It's the second day when we have more fun. Anyway, this is the first semester ever where, after class, a student approached me and thanked me for "treating [them] like adults." I was a little shocked, as that had never happened to me, and then he went on to explain that he feels like so many of his other professors treat them like fragile little snowflakes who are so special and precious as long as they are trying, and how condescending it all is. Anyway, he and I had a nice chat for a few minutes, and I thanked him for saying something to me.


By the end of the day, I had a very sore throat. I wondered if I were coming down with something or if it was just because I had been talking for most of the day. Luckily, it was fine the next morning.


We learned at some point this week that Merritt's new clock he got for Christmas has been playing music every night around midnight. That's really strange, because he's had it for weeks now, but nobody told us this was going on, so the kids must have been shutting it off somehow, or maybe it has a timer where it stops after several minutes. Anyway, Avey is pretty sure she turned it off now...

Merritt Hides in a "Tent"

Wednesday, Kira let me sleep in after my long day. I was up to see the kids off. She and I then did our separate tasks: my day job, and Kira worked on her calling stuff. It was bitterly cold, so I avoided going outside. Once the boys were home, Merritt showered and did his homework, I picked up Avey from drama club, and then she joined a youth activity by phone (just planning what to do this year). She and I then started a movie while Kira talked to her mother on the phone. There was a winter storm watch for the night, so we wondered what would happen with school the next day.


We awoke to find no new snow whatsoever, so everything was normal. I left early for my train to the city, having only two morning classes, and they went well. Kira got the kids to school, and then was back to her tasks. I joined a webinar in the afternoon, although it wasn't exactly what I'd hoped when I registered, so I'm not sure I'll join the next one. It was a standard evening of dinner and bed and then some relaxing for us older kids.

Jesse and Merritt Read Together

Friday was nice for me, as I had the house to myself all morning. I got the boys fed and ready and then Kira drove them to school while I drove Avey. Kira had signed up to help out with the activities planned for the 100th day of school, and she had to be there when the kids' bus would come anyway, so she just took them. She mostly helped with a bowling activity, which kept her very busy and wiped her out. She decided to stay and have lunch with the kids, too, so I didn't see her until after that.

Merritt Wears His "Spy Disguise"

I just worked on some school stuff and then I had a stupid meeting over the computer. Kira napped a little after she got home, and then was up a little after the bus came.


Jesse went to play at a friend's house, and then came home sobbing. When he was ready to talk about it, we found out that there had been some name-calling at the friend's house, and Jesse was the target. We talked through it with him, and he seemed to gain some key insights about their relationship, and then I left to take Avey and Apollo downtown to drop Avey off at the library to meet with some friends, and then I met Hannah and we walked Apollo around until we got too cold. While I was gone, Jesse came up with a solid plan of what to do, and he felt strongly that he wanted to resolve things with his friend right then. Kira asked the kid's mom if they could come and talk about it, and so they came over and had a very good talk for 7-year-olds about boundaries and what good friends are and are not. I'm sorry that I missed it. When I got home, Jesse was a new man. He said that the conversation went much better than he had even imagined, and the friend even stayed to play for a while afterward. We are so glad that he made it through that very hard experience, and think that he learned a lot. Maybe he is a "man-kid" after all.


I dropped Apollo off and then went back downtown to pick Avey up. We then got the boys to bed and Hannah joined us for a movie.


This morning has been standard Saturday stuff. I got up to feed the kids and let Kira sleep in. It's another bitterly cold day, so we're likely to stick around the house most of the day...


We're remembering Kira's father today, as it is his birthday. He would have been 71 today had we not lost him to cancer. We'll make sure to remember his humor, singing, and strong work ethic. Maybe we'll even eat something special to help honor him...

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