Letters To My Sons | September

Happy 7th birthday Ca$h Money!

I can't believe another year has passed! What blows my mind is how our dialogues have become, well...more discerning. Your insight into the world spans far greater than your 7 years and quite frankly, I'm not sure I'm ready for it. I worry I won't have the right words to ease that sensitive, philosophical mind of yours. 

The morning of September 7th, you endured the typical first day of school anxiety, but it was our discussion on the walk home that was most profound. "Mommy, the GIRLS are bullies! They can be so mean! Worse than boys! And they make other people feel badly."  The realization that girls could be cruel was so unsettling and obviously needed to be talked through. It turns out that one of the girls made fun of your friend for missing his mom, taunting him until he started to cry. You said you were too scared to stick up for him, telling me how the girls are always whispering with each other and saying bad words. "And they always call me 'cute' Mommy and I don't like it! I HATE being called cute!"  Since you obviously don't know yet what this actually means, I acknowledged that this can be annoying, even hurtful.  

Here is where it feels as if I'm talking with a 17 year-old instead of a 7 year-old. I told you that girls ARE complicated and probably will be for the rest of your life. They can be mean and dramatic and yes, even bullies. But you know what's the best thing to do when they tease you and call you "cute"?  "Just shrug your shoulders," I said, demonstrating a lackadaisical lift. "Not the sad kind of shrug with a pouty lip, but the 'I don't care what you're saying, I'm too busy doing something else' kind." Girls are just trying to get a reaction out of you so the best thing to do is not give them one. We practiced a couple times and the following day you told me that it worked as promised. They simply moved on to their next target. 

Cash, you have such a good heart. You know what's right and how to treat people even though you fight it sometimes. Recently you told me your biggest fear is that "in public people will find out I'm good on the inside."  At home and in school you are good-natured, but in the outside world you've got a tough exterior. I'd say that right there is a true New Yorker! 

The other day I told you to stop bothering Grey, to just leave him alone when you said,

"Mommy, you're always telling me to 'BE MYSELF', right? Well, being myself IS getting mad at Grey..AND putting my hands on him sometimes...AND picking my nose!...Even farting! THAT IS ME BEING WHO I AM!"

Oh Cash, you are a boy of great complexity whose ability to turn the tables of intellect on his dear mother makes me laugh, for now anyways. 

May you always seek to defend those who are being teased and intimidated, even if you are intimidated yourself. May you continue to grow your goodness while standing strong in your own truth, knowing I will always be there to walk and talk through life's intricacies, especially what girls really mean when they call you 'cute'.

Happy birthday son!

I love you! Always & forever, Mom

 

Letters To My Sons | August

This was an especially exciting summer for you Grey! You were finally old enough to go to Harlem School of the Arts camp with Cash. For the past two years you would go with me to drop Cash off, hug him good-bye and then ask why you weren't staying with him. It was heart-breaking. But this year you were in the red group, made up of the youngest campers, so proud to let everyone know you had a brother in the green group.

 

At first Cash you were embarrassed when Grey would call out, "There's my brother!" every time he saw you. He'd hear your voice at the pool, lift up his head to look around for you, then tag along with to areas off limits to the four year-olds.

"Mommy it's kind of annoying when he's always yelling 'Hi Cash!!!'"

So Daddy shared with you that it was the same way with him and Corey at this age, and all you had to do was tell people, "That's my little brother. I'm supposed to look out for him," then they'll understand. From there on out you took it upon yourself to watch out for Grey, making sure he put his backpack in the right cubby, didn't forget his towel or water bottle at the pool and kept a watchful eye on him during the field trips. 

You went from being annoyed to taking on the important role of protective big brother, relaying detailed accounts back to me every day. And I would expect nothing less from you!

 

Grey, you absolutely LOVED camp. You called it "church" for some reason which was always funny to us.

Mommy, do I have church today?   Are we going to church now?   I had fun at church today!

One of the biggest highlights for you was performing in the show which happens on the last day of the two-week camp session. When you came onto the stage your smile was absolutely priceless. You poked your head up above everyone else with the cutest little grin as if to say, "You see me Mommy??  I'm over here!! You see?!"

[Click each image to view full scale]

As always I have a hard time sitting still during the show. The singing...the dancing...the drumming - it stirs my soul in such a way that I just want to get up and join in! You can pretty much guarantee I'll be moved to tears and this year was no different. Cash, a few days earlier you had told me that the song "For Good" with its beautiful message would probably make me cry. So when you looked over at me at the end of the song, I gestured that I was tearing up to let you know you were absolutely right! 

 

"Who can say if I've been changed for the better? 
I do believe I have been changed for the better
And because I knew you...
Because I knew you...
Because I knew you... I've been changed for good."
 

It's obviously no secret to you that I cry when I hear certain songs. Whether in church or at the Harlem School for the Arts show. That's just something you guys know about me. But I'm learning that you are like that too. While looking at videos of the show later that night, I turned to my left and my right, overwhelmed to see that both of you had tears welling up in your eyes. And this isn't the first time. Watching your emotional selves develop, I am touched by your compassion and most of all the love growing in your hearts. To me, that is better than any machismo. We have enough of that in the world. More men with open minds and sensitive hearts - that's what the world needs.

What a thrill to see you boys onstage using your small bodies as a form of self-expression! I was bursting with happiness and I know this because Daddy shared a photo he secretly took during the show. If that's not a mother's joy beaming in all directions, then I don't what is.

Bravó boys! Cheers to a great performance and a terrific summer's end. I love you both so dearly.  

Always & Forever, Mom            



Letters To My Sons | July

Dear boys,

Here you are sitting on a bench outside of Gofer's Ice Cream in Greenwich. Despite those times Grey frustrates, annoys, irritates and copies you Cash, it's touching to see there is nobody else who causes such a belly laugh. Soon laughing through ice-cream goatees about who had more chocolate stains on their white shirt, Daddy and I just looked at each other shaking our heads. Our way of saying All our work for all their joy as you sat dripping in summer's sweetness.  

As vehicularly obsessed New Yorkers, this month we set out on the ultimate undertaking - to ride as many different types of transportation in NYC in a single day! We took the express A train down to 59th Street, the crosstown city bus to Second Avenue, the Roosevelt Tramway to/from the island, and caught a taxi down to 34th street where we watched helicopters take off and land at the heliport. Once aboard the ferry we cruised down the East River to Wall Street where we got off and rode the express train back up to Harlem. For just a couple of Metrocard swipes (you guys are still free!) and the cost of a short taxi ride you had an absolute blast, Cash telling me at bedtime, "Mommy this was one of the best days ever!" 


 

 

At the airport on our way to Grandma and Pow Pow's house, you watched planes come and go from a window, still small enough to fit snugly together. There are days when it feels like all I do is mediate jealous battles, but I am reminded of the countless hours you are connected, watching, riding and constructing various travel modes. 

Therein lies the advantage of having two. The togetherness of brotherhood.

 

 

 

 

It rained while we were in Sewickley nearly every day, but during a lull I took you to the giant Adirondack chair in front of the firehouse. Maybe it was put there for photo ops just like this - I dunno, but we sure used it as such. You guys went into total VOGUE mode, the most hysterical part being Grey's nearly identical pose in every shot!  Go Grey! Strike a pose. Yeah, just one pose. Over and over. 

 

[Click each image to view full scale]

In a couple of weeks, it will be National Sons & Daughters Day, which they say is a time to "reflect on the joy that children bring to your life". You boys do just that. You bring great joy to me and Daddy. And this month has been filled with the joy of adventure, bright sunglasses, chocolate ice-cream messes and the sweet sounds of laughter.  

These are our summer days.

I love you boys.

Always & forever. Mom 

Letters To My Sons | June

Dear Cash,

You have been waiting for your first tooth to fall out for months. At school your class had become a pack of vampires and you were anxious for your turn. Then one day I noticed teeth coming up behind your bottom baby ones which your dentist said is referred to as "shark teeth".  It seems you were literally turning into your favorite creature!  The newspaper headline would read: "Shark Fanatic Becomes His Obsession!"  Although your two baby teeth were a little loose, the dentist wasn't sure how long it would take for them to fall out on their own. Since it wasn't a good idea to delay on this, she offered us two options:

1. Go home and eat apples and bagels to loosen them more and come back in a week if they don't fall out.

2. Pull them out today! 

Thinking about having to make another trip to the dentist in a week, I looked at you lying there in the dentist's chair and said, "Whaddaya say we just take them out today Cash? Let's just do it and get it over with."  Without any hesitation you shook your head yes, and in that moment I saw the dentist's look of surprise as my warrior boy fearlessly said, "Let's do it now."  


Since you were a baby you have been shockingly brave. Not a single immunization shot ever brought you to tears and your pediatrician still claims to have never met a patient like you. "A total dream" she says. When you needed a filling last year, the sight of a giant needle going in your mouth didn't rattle you a bit. So when the dentist pulled me aside to talk about what was about to take place, I knew all I had to do was go over it with you honestly and directly. As long as I kept it real with you, you'd be totally cool. Oddly, I felt the need to assure the dentist you'd be fine more than the need to assure you. Then it was back to the waiting room with Grey. 

I knew you wouldn't need me to stay with you. I didn't even ask because I'm familiar with the depth of your courage, never wanting to undermine it with "Do you need me to stay with you?"  It's one of the things I love so much about you. Your courage comes from deep within and as your mother, this is my ultimate wish -- for you to be brave, capable and fiercely independent. 

It wasn't 15 minutes before the dentist came to say she was finished, appearing in a state of shock that she just numbed a six year-old with a giant needle and pulled two teeth from his mouth without so much as a peep. I was bursting with pride inside. Way to go Cash!

When I squeeze you tight I always say, "You know I love you right? You know that right? (more squeezes) You are my sweetheart."

I think about whether I tell you this enough. And then it will be morning again and time for our ritual good-bye on the school steps. It's always the same: You give me a kiss, followed up with two BIG hugs. Then when you get to the top of the steps you blow me a kiss and finally as I'm walking away you call out "Mommy!!" to show me the heart you made with your hands. You don't care who is watching and you never have. My only hope is you never will.

You are such a beautiful young boy Cash. You wear your heart on your sleeve and yet carry the bravery of a thousand soldiers within.

Your new smile is dazzling and so bravely earned. How funny that you couldn't wait to lose your first tooth, and in just one afternoon you lost TWO!!

I love you sweet warrior.

Always & forever, Mom

Letters To My Sons | May

"My baby sister girls are coming!! Right Mommy?? They are coming next Thursday! And then to my birthday party, right!??"

I'm not sure exactly where the idea you had two baby sister girls on the way came from, but it did, and you've been talking about them - Julie and Julie  - so much in fact that I felt the need to mention to your teachers that no, I was not pregnant with twins. Still, I can't help but laugh when you talk about their arrival or random imaginary sightings of them - across the street, at your favorite playground or walking right behind us. You make drawings for them and dance in circles with excitement about being a big brother even though you said "they are three just like me".  It's terribly sweet - the sticky gooey sweet that makes my heart yearn. And then I kind of, almost, just-for-a-millasecond wish I could give you a couple baby sister girls. For your birthday.      

Instead we settled for Blue Man Group. Birthdays are the best reason to do something special as a foursome, and this show did not disappoint. For weeks leading up to the big day you'd invite anyone who crossed your path, even total strangers -"You gonna come with me? To my birthday?"  During the show there were several times where you were the (littlest) audience member laughing the hardest. 

Blue Man Group videos on Youtube became part of your daily routine as well as discussions about every last birthday detail. When would we open presents? What should Mommy bake for your friends at school? Cupcakes or frosted sugar cookies?  As usual our family ended up devouring New York's best Brooklyn Blackout cake -- this year with icing in your favorite color green. You love this cake so much that for awhile there you were calling it your "Chocolate Birthday". But whatever you want to call it - "Blue Man Group Birthday"..."Chocolate Birthday" - the cutest part for me was when you ran around to each of us with the biggest smile saying, "This is the BEST birthday EVER!!"

Absolute. Uninhibited. Joy.


I must say there's something ridiculously cute in your voice these days - not only how pipsqueak it is, but how relentlessly you jabber as if you just discovered you can do so. One morning I secretly recorded you talking about all the different subway trains - which ones are local, which ones are express - ending every comment with "right Mommy??"  But when you really killed me with cuteness was the time you asked me to help you put your pajamas on.

"Why don't you want Daddy to help you Grey?"

"Cause I love you Mommy. You're BOOTIFUL."

Then the time you told me about your friends. 

"I have two friends, right Mommy??  You. And Daddy."

"What about Cash?" I asked.  "No, Mommy," you said with your trademark smirk. "He's my brother."

And then there was Daphne, the strawberry-blonde girl you met and fell in love with at the playground. Instantly connected by joy and a kindred sweetness, the two of you ran toward the slide, giggling as you rode down together hand in hand, over and over. 

 

 


With all this cutesy though, there is the mighty flipside. The attitude and ohhh, the mood swings. "Whatever," you'll say with the sass of a tween, "That's ruh-dic-uh-lous."  Such swagger makes you sound older and of course makes us laugh, but we also bear witness to some absolutely spectacular meltdowns over the most irrational things, making us wonder if you might actually be turning two instead of four. Like when you got so mad when we told you your last name was "Davis" (you insisted it was "Grey"). Or when you fought hard to argue that the "D" is a local train not an express one. My modus operandi is usually just to give in to avoid total breakdown, but that's not always an easy surrender for your older, know-it-all brother. Therein lies my daily battle. There was that doozy of a fit on the subway that was so beyond, Cash and I were both left shaking our heads. You had asked me to make a funny face - which I did - but I guess it wasn't THE RIGHT funny face, because you started crying out, "NOOOOO MOMMY!!! THE FUNNY FACE!!". You worked yourself into a terrible state, sobbing for eight long stops to 145th street and there was nothing we could do except let you cry it out. I think I may have even pulled my hoodie up over my head and closed my eyes to tune you out. When we got home Daddy asked, "What the heck is wrong with Grey?"  Cash and I just looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders. "It wasn't the right funny face."  

You continue to shock us with the things you say and do, and I can only imagine what lies in store for the mighty FOUR. Just the other night, after I cleared all the boogers out of your nose, you lay your head down in great relief and said something I couldn't quite hear. "What was that Grey?", I said leaning in close. 

"You're the best Mom."

Oh Grey, I love you so much. All of you. Each and every inch of your heart and soul. And when you spontaneously say such sweet things, my heart bursts right out of my chest. 

My wish for you is that this year ahead is your finest yet and one you'll never forget!

Happiest of birthdays Grey Bear!

I love you. Always & forever,  Mom

Letters To My Sons | April

April was a big month for our family. First the Montenegros came to visit, then a week later Grandma and Pow Pow came for their first Grandparents Day at MCS. They got to visit your school Cash, meet your teachers and classmates we've talked so much about, see your 100 days project on display (the shark jaw with 100 teeth!), play Connect Four and do a fun interview exchange. When I asked Grandma and Pow Pow at the end of their five day visit, what their favorite part of the whole trip was, they both agreed it was visiting their grandsons' schools.


[ Pow Pow / Grandma / Cash interviews ]

~ Click on image to enhance ~


 

 

The morning of your school visit, Pow Pow asked if you like any of the girls in your class. "No! I don't like girls Pow Pow!", you said, glancing over at me to confirm our secret. I'm still the only one who knows you like Clara. You've told nobody else -- not Daddy, not your teacher Anna. It's our little secret that has its own hand symbol (the peace sign) for when we want to talk about it. I did however, quietly let Grandma and Pow Pow to keep an eye out for a little girl named Clara and of course, they could figure out why.

 

There was another big "Clara" event this month worth mentioning. Each Monday morning you get assigned a new partner for the week, someone to hold hands with when your class goes to the playground or Central Park. You told me if you were ever to be partnered with Clara you would be both "terrified and excited"

"But Mommy," you said one Sunday morning with great concern, "it's getting close to the end of the year and I haven't been partnered with Clara yet."  

Later that evening I sent Anna an email describing our conversation and well what do you know! The following morning your name was beside Clara's on the partner list! 

 

 

When you walked in the classroom and saw the board, you immediately ran to the bathroom to go pee and poop! You told me you weren't sure you'd be able to survive the whole week -- it seems your nerves were almost too much to bear. After lunch when your class went outside, you shared that you and Clara played "I Spy with My LIttle Eye" as you walked hand in hand toward Central Park.

Well, if I were to play that game, I would say that "I spy with my little eye" a boy with a BIG crush -- a sweet and nervous romeo whom I hope always feels comfortable enough to confide in me his deepest heart secrets. 


After spending the morning at MCS, Grandma and Pow Pow tagged along to pick up Grey. Amazingly it was their first time visiting Columbus Preschool. They met your teachers Grey and saw the fabulous art you made for your upcoming show. We had lunch at Artie's afterwards, which was your own special time with them. As a family we did other things that were particularly fun for you - like the Cirque de Soleil type show for kids called "Something" at the New Victory Theater and the Gazillion Bubble Show. You had been asking for weeks - no, months! - when Grandma and Pow Pow were coming. Now that they were finally here, you couldn't be happier.  

The last night of their visit was HUGE for you Cash! After dining out with the grownups at a fancy restaurant in Hells Kitchen, we took you to your first Broadway show! You had a GOLDEN TICKET to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - one of your all-time favorite stories. The evening was definitely one of pure imagination, made more special by the fact that you stayed up way past your bedtime, walking around the vibrant streets of Times Square with those who love you most.

Grey, you're still a little too young to sit through an entire Broadway show, but not to worry, your time will come. We set you up with a favorite babysitter, pizza dinner, and a couple of new Magnatile cars which seemed to be just fine. And already you're asking when we will see Grandma and Pow Pow again -- we all are!  It was a special visit chock-full of memories to last a lifetime.

As Willy Wonka says, "Time is a precious thing. Never waste it.

And we shan't. 

I love you sons.

Always & forever,

Mom

Letters To My Sons | March

Three Shades of Grey: Hustla, Lover Boy and Easy G

Of course there are multitude of shades, but these three are pretty consistent. Hustla is your preference when having your picture taken. Like a jailhouse pose Daddy and I will tease, honestly not knowing where you conjure up that swagger. I mean you're only three years old! I recently showed a photo of you to my doctor - the one who brought you into this world - and you know what she said?  She said, "Oh Sarah! You're gonna have to always be a stay at home mom just to watch over this one! And where did he learn that look??...with those green eyes! Girl, you are gonna be BUSYYY!"

She's right too. Which leads me to shade "Lover Boy". That was your look when I popped my head above the camera and said "Milly". Your eyes lit up and softened as you revealed your trademark smirk. Milly is the girl in your class you've liked since the first day of preschool. It turns out that a couple of the boys like Milly. She's feisty and likes trains and airplanes which she'll often bring to school. You told me recently that Milly now likes another boy in the class named Louie, though you seemed only mildly disappointed. "It's okay Grey," I said, though I probably didn't even need to, "there will be plenty of other girls. I can promise you that." 

Along with your lover boy tendencies, you also score high in protective instincts. While waiting to cross the street, you firmly wrap your arms around me to shield me from cars zooming past. "Don't worry Mommy, I 'tecting you." And when I forgot my gloves one very cold morning, you cupped your hands around mine - "My hands are big, right mommy?!" - telling everyone in sight you were keeping mommy's hands warm. Your protective instincts most definitely include your big brother as well, as you shield him from us whenever he's in trouble. I'm pretty certain there will come a day when you will step up to bat for Cash in a major way. Call it a hunch, but I don't think you will be one to take any bullshit. 

Then there's Easy G who is cool as a cucumber. Your relaxed self is quite the opposite of your spazzy "testosteronified" shade - yes, I made that word up just for you! - and we love it. Like when you make your body as small as possible, curling up like a cat to fit on Daddy's lap. Or when you immerse yourself in imaginative play - finding places on the carpet to line up all your cars, building fantastical structures with blocks and magnatiles and creating elaborate train tracks throughout the apartment. That just never gets old! Then there's your ultimate chill out spot - the bathtub - where you'll sometimes stay for up to an hour, getting out only when your fingers and toes are grossly wrinkled.

The other day on our walk to the subway, we came upon a giant bulldozer tearing up the street and watched in amazement as the machine tore back huge chunks of asphalt, carefully dropping them into a nearby dumpster. It was then you decided you wanted to go to "bulldozer school" to become a bulldozer driver when you are "growed up". I told you I was all for it. Without question you've got the strength and tasmanian zeal to do it --- to tackle anything in life for that matter. 

Dedicated to my Hustla, Lover boy, and Easy G --- these shades and the many others which you possess will catapult you into a galaxy of stars not a one lacking luster. But for now, while we're here together on this earth, you continue to be my superstar. I love you G.    

Always & forever,

Mom 

 

 

 

Letters To My Sons | February

Dear Cash,

The 10th and 17th were special days for you this month, however, waiting for them to arrive wasn't so easy. At least at first. You see, it was the end of December when, after delving back into your shark fanaticism, you mentioned that you wanted to get a Megalodon tooth. I agreed as long as you earned your own money for it. We searched for fossils on eBay until we found one that you could afford. Though it wasn't the most expensive Megalodon tooth (very rare ones over 7" long can run into the hundreds), we found a 5 1/2 " one that with dedication and patience, would be yours by February 10th. 

At first you didn't like the idea of having to wait almost two months for your Megalodon tooth. Not surprisingly, you wanted it right away. Especially since this all coincided with a notice from your teacher that your class would be doing "shares" through February 17th, with yours scheduled for mid-January. You knew you wouldn't have your tooth by then and were crushed. 

While walking to the subway after school, through your quiet tears, I suggested we ask your teacher if we could move yours to February 17th, which would give you the extra time needed. We talked about how grownups do this all the time; they work for things they really want even though it can feel like forever to save up enough. But how satisfying it feels when you finally earn something so precious. You managed to come around to the idea, recognizing that it actually could be good thing to talk about with your friends, and wiped away your tears in true Cash commitment.

 

That evening Anna emailed back saying that your share was officially moved to the 17th, and the first thing you did was make a calendar of the days you had left. You wanted something you could cross off each night before bed, most importantly I presume, to help pass the time. 

Every morning you eagerly asked what your jobs were for the day -- such things as carrying the grocery bags, drying the dishes, cleaning windows, sweeping the floor, making your bed, reading books to Grey, cleaning the bathroom (sink and toilet!), lugging the laundry bag, putting away folded clothes and emptying the waste baskets. You would do around 3 jobs per day, collecting $1.00 to put in your "CASH BOX". 

 

You kept a sketchbook filled with drawings and descriptions of all of your jobs, and each night religiously put on "X" on your calendar. The Megalodon tooth remained in the office closet (following a contentious ebay win) until you had finally earned enough. As I watched you hold the tooth with such care and elation, turning it over and over in your hands, it was clear that your new possession meant more to you because of the wait. Because you worked for it.


When the day of your school share arrived, you brought your Megalodon tooth along with a list of facts about where it was found. You shared details about the shark itself (three times bigger than a Great White) and used a measuring tape to show your friends the difference in size between the Megalodon tooth and that of its Great White relative. You told me that you were a little shy at the beginning of your share, but once you started reading to your friends, you felt better. "I worked through it Mommy." And your teacher said that she didn't notice any nervousness whatsoever. So Bravo "Cash the Shark" (a nickname your classmates have appropriately given you) for a job well done! 

This February was kind of like "Shark Month" in our house; one snowy day you worked on your "100 days of school" project - painting a Great White portrait, while another day we spent making frosted shark cookies. 

However, I will remember most the lessons you learned and the patience you garnered in working toward your goal. You're already talking about earning more teeth for your collection, though the next one might very well be your own since you officially have your first wiggly tooth! And who knows, the tooth fairy just might put a $1.00 in your "CASH BOX". 

I love you Cashew!  Always & forever, Mom

Letters To My Sons | January

Grey Grey ~ such a big boy now at the barbershop! 

It has taken awhile for us to get to this point. Over a year ago we tried to coax you into Henry's chair, hoping that by first watching your big brother you would summon the necessary courage. But nope. You cried and hid under my arm, totally refusing to go near him or his chair. Thankfully Henry was wise enough to tell us it wasn't time yet. He didn't want to force you. And so we waited.

Then just like that, one day you said, "Mommy, I'm a big boy now. I'm going to the barber like Cash." 

In these photos you look like a deer caught in headlights, but actually you weren't afraid at all. You were so proud, sitting high up on the booster seat in your absolute stillness as the clippers moved across your head. I think your bravery even surprised you a bit. 

After trying out a few barbers over the years with Cash, we were grateful to have found Henry at THE ONE 48 Barbershop right up the block from us. Henry is Dominican and knows just how to work with your mixed race hair. There's always a wait to get in his chair so we do just that. With Latin music blasting, you and Cash pass the time shaking your booties and cracking up the other barbers. Henry has a propensity for showing up late - "Too much tequila anoche Henry??" we'll tease. But we've grown accustomed to this lateness and don't mind since he is master of the clippers.  

You always let us know when your time is right. That's one of your special gifts Grey Bear. You ended up letting us know you were ready and thankfully you only had to endure one dreadful haircut from Daddy. He attempted to give you a fade with a regular clipper, before learning later that you actually need a fade clipper to do that. Your hair looked like a topographical map of varying lengths, and was so bad that Daddy ran you over to Henry for some damage control. Henry felt sorry enough for Daddy that he let him go ahead of two people so he wouldn't be late for work. It was then that Henry turned with a smile and said, "So I guess now I'm officially his barber?"

Yup, Henry, you're not just Cash's barber anymore. Your newest client is named Grey. He is resolutely patient, brave and loves a good barbershop fiesta.

And to our little big boy ~ Grey Grey ~ we wish you many more fades in your new barber's chair and many more moments where you teach us all about good timing.  

I love you.

Always & forever, 

Mom

Letters To My Sons | December

It's that time of year again! Time to visit Santa - the very best Santa in New York City with a real beard and cherub cheeks at ABC Carpet. This now our third year we've really got the hang of it. We even have some friends we've come to know over the years who have the same game plan as us: Go the first Sunday after Thanksgiving when most New Yorkers are still out of town, park for free right in front of the building so kids can stay warm inside the car and most importantly, arrive 90 minutes early to beat the line that quickly wraps around the block. Last year we were actually the first, but this year I'll admit, it was better to be third. More time to take off coats, fiddle with my camera settings and capture those excited looks just before the big moment. 

As opposed to last year when Grey sat next to Santa on Daddy's lap, apprehensively leaning as far away as possible, this year he assured me he was going to sit on Santa's lap.  

"I not afraid mommy!" 

"Really?! That's great Grey! What are you going to tell Santa you'd like for Christmas?"

"Trucks and cars!"

"Cash, what about you? What are you going to ask Santa to bring?"

"Big Robots"

"What are those?!" 

"Big fighting robots Mommy! That have remote controls!"

After visiting with Father Christmas he gave you guys a special treat. Every year it's something different and this time it was a strawberry and creme pinwheel lollipop that you couldn't wait to eat. As we walked out of ABC Carpet we bid farewell to our friends. "See you guys next year!" 

It's been a month full of magical chaos in our little home in Harlem. George the Elf made his return from the North Pole and has been spotted each morning in a new place. The first thing you guys do when you wake up is go on a search for George. Of course I've woken up in a cold sweat a couple of nights wondering if I remembered to move him. 

Cash, you wrote a couple of letters to Santa this season and the day we opened the mailbox to find a letter back from him, you ran toward the apartment door screaming, "Daddy! Daddy!! Santa wrote back! He wrote me back!"

But there was one morning that touched my heart most of all. During breakfast you said, "Mommy, I'm going to write a letter to Mrs. Claus today because nobody really talks about her and how much work she does at Christmas time." 

How true Cash! And what a nice and thoughtful thing to do! It might even make up some for the naughty things you've done like pick on your little brother. 

As I've told you many times, once you stop believing Santa stops coming. So just keep believing, and I'm sure George, Santa (and definitely Mrs. Claus!) will work hard to make your Christmas a Merry one.

I love you sons!  

Always & forever, Mom

Letters To My Sons | November

My little rockstars,

No, these candids have nothing to do with Halloween, even though that's in the very recent past. It's just you guys doing what you do best, led mostly of course by big brother.  Cash, you'll style Grey similar to yourself in whatever you might be rockin at the time, and then Grey falls right into character, syncing with your every move. As we made our way home from school this particular day you guys were donning your "cool rockstar" bling. There was a point where I just said, "Ok, go for it guys! Give me your best moves!" and started firing away with my camera. Those shots are always my favorite, where I capture your personalities at play, more often than not laughing behind the camera.   

I was telling Grandma the other day that whenever I meet another mother of only boys, it's like meeting a kindred spirit. No, we don't have a secret handshake or anything like that. We'll just kind of nod our heads and grin, skipping ahead several chapters in the get-to-know-you routine. The boy moms I've met are laid back, fine tuned in the art of mediation, able to maintain extraordinarily high energy and accustomed to incessantly loud noise. They're not fussy about property damage, have learned quickly to always check the toilet seat first, and aren't rattled by risky behavior or gross bathroom talk. It's not hard then to understand why I find instant connection with other boy moms. And since I always wanted be one, there isn't a day that I'm not thankful to be a member of this group. 

You two have your own distinct personalities, but when you come together it's a molotov cocktail of energy. How fun to capture you guys in various swagger! Just brothers being silly, totally vogueing out in the streets of your neighborhood.

I love being a mom to only boys and yet, in the back of my mind I'm always thinking about the great task at hand. To raise kind, conscious and strong young men who will one day be someone's loving spouse, someone's good neighbor, co-worker and most importantly someone's trusting best friend. All the while still holding on to the "littleness" of you, those tiny (dirty!) hands reaching out for mine and the hugs and kisses that turn my heart into confetti. And then of course those moments when you throw down and TURN. IT. OUT. with the coolest of moves. Like true rockstars.

I love being your Mom -- a steadfast boys mom.

Always & forever.

Letters To My Sons | October

Hey Hey Hey...

What's up strong and tall little boy! The three year old wearing 5T clothing (Cash's clothes from just last year!). The fearless one who chases after the ball for his older brother after it's rolled into the dark room at the end of the hallway. And the tough cookie who bangs his head on concrete and bounces back quicker than you can say, "What happened?". Although you may not be all that interested in looking at books or being read to, are quite likely to leave an activity unfinished and are known to walk out of a movie before it's over, you are boundless in your physicality. You, G Money, are our bruiser for sure. 

You are also lavish with opinions. Such strong likes and dislikes you aren't afraid to share with us. Who cares about that yellow caution line? I wanna look for the oncoming train!! And oh yeah, I want to sit with my face in the seat and my butt in the air while I plow my weight against you. You and Cash are squishing the stranger next to you? Oh well, it's fun for me. No doubt you've got an entertainer streak and will do just about anything to get a laugh. Every day you manage to create nonsensical rap songs with accompanying booty dances to crack us up. Then if you are trying to smooth things over, you've got that down too. You bat your eyes, tilt your head and open up your arms for a hug. "I luh you mommy," you say with the execution of a skilled manipulator. A sweet college girl actually told me the other day that with those green eyes of yours, you're gonna get your way a lot. Mmm-hmmm.... 

She said this as she walked by us taking pictures. Not really one for posing, you decided that on THIS day you were going to do so and meticulously scouted each location along our walk to Cash's school. There is a little doorway you like to stand against and I have to say, it does create some dreamy open shade. I was able to capture those eyes that young lady was talking about. 

Next you wanted to sit on the bench in front of the crepería where I caught you mid-laugh. That's the mischief we know. The big personality who loves dancing and pretending to be shot down in combat with your brother. Your dramatics are just that. Dramatic. And your independence is thriving. Each morning on our way to school you ask Cash and I to meet you at the bottom of the stairs while you take the elevator by yourself. Oh yeah, that "By Yourself" bit is huuuuge these days.  

Sheesh. You even potty trained yourself this past month. One day you just decided you were done with diapers (much to my delight since I was really lagging on this). Second child syndrome? It's quite possible. I was just hoping that either Cash would show you how or you would just figure it out on your own. Which you did! And have managed to only have two accidents since then. The first was when you went number two at the same time I was. There we were in the bathroom, both of us pants down trying to clean up the mess that was all over you and the floor while Cash stood by hysterically laughing. 

 

And the other time was at the playground when you soaked through your sweatpants. You seemed totally cool with it and wanted to keep playing but we decided it was best for us to leave in order to avoid the gasps and eye rolls from other parents - and any possible chafing. We walked home the ten blocks rather than wet some cabbie's backseat and as Daddy said, "It was good to air you out!"  Again, you didn't seem to mind at all. It was just another example of your "Don't Give A  ----" personality, which of course, drives me crazy a great deal of the time, but I know will serve you well in life. And yes, I STILL want to eat that cute face of yours. Those cheeks so irresistible, those McDonald's arch eyebrows and that pipsqueak voice.

My little Harlem boy ~ I want to thank you for finding this perfect doorway. We got some of your best portraits here. May you continue to be that warrior whose greatest superpower will ALWAYS be those devilish green eyes. 

I love you Grey Bear.

Always & forever, Mom

Letters To My Sons | September

Dearest sons,

This September was a busy month. It was back to school for both of you, a 6th birthday for one of you and the beginning of my fourth year of "Letters". Throw in all the emotions and preparations for those things and you've got yourself quite the whirly rig. 

Grey, this fall you returned to Columbus Preschool in the 3's program five mornings a week, while Cash, you made the big move to Manhattan Country School as a kindergartener. It's all new for you this year after being at Columbus for four years, so lots of anticipation. Below are the snapshots I took outside of our apartment on your respective "first days".     

Grey, yours involved a short morning circle followed by an activity with half your class and since Daddy was able to come you were extra happy. To get to know everyone's names, the teachers started singing, "Bumblebee Bumblebee, Won't you say your name for me?"  and when it was your turn to say your name you went silent, curling shyly against Daddy's chest. Rather adorable for us grownups watching. Then the next day you made sure to tell me that you said your name in front of all your "new friends". 

Cash, your first "meet-and-greet" at Manhattan Country School went really well. I think it was because I was with you those 30 minutes you saw your classroom and met your new teacher and a couple of classmates. The photo above was taken around the block from the school and your smile is dazzling. It was the next morning that was an emotional wrecking ball. Parents were told to make drop off as brief as possible - in other words, cut the cord - and you not only knew this but felt it deeply, burying yourself under my bedcovers pleading to not have to go. Through the most gut wrenching sobs you kept telling me how scared you were and that your stomach was hurting. You cried on the subway and during our walk to the school, pulling your shirt up over your face so nobody could see. There was no amount of assurance or explaining that was any comfort to you. You were completely terrified and though I didn't let on, my heart was in a million pieces. 

All I could do was give you a tool to help you cope. I told you that when you felt really sad you could pull your teacher aside and let her know. That she would be understanding and surely has dealt with other children who have felt like you. You reluctantly agreed. When I picked you up at the end of the day, I asked if you talked with your teacher and you told me you didn't have to. "As the morning went along I wasn't sad anymore Mommy. I mean, I was a tiny bit sad when you first left but then I was okay."  And there you have it my love. You made it through your first terrifying transition with the bravery of a thousand soldiers.

Later that evening I received a touching email from your teacher Anna. She told me she that a few of you were sitting at the playdough table talking about having more than one feeling at a time (namely nervousness and excitement). She said that you shared how you'd been crying so much that morning and were scared to come to a new school but that you were no longer worried. I was so happy to learn you were one of the first to self-reflect and share your feelings with the group, which I find to be quite brave - especially since during our walk to school you didn't want anyone to see that you were upset. 

SIX

Grey, you love Cash's school so much I think you'd rather be going there. And hopefully you will be next year. Every day you get so excited to go pick up Cash, peeking inside his classroom and doing the happy dance until they open the door for the parents. I doubt you will have any fears going there next year since by then you will be so familiar with the place.

We are in our third week of school now and I have to say you both have done a wonderful job transitioning into your new classrooms. There was the second day Cash, when you said, "I'm going to be sad because I have to go a full day without you Mommy." You really got me with that one. I swear, it's amazing how much love and gratitude is within that little heart of yours.

In fact, just the other day we stayed out past your bedtime for a sundowner with friends which you were so excited about. As the sun was setting you ran over to make sure I saw it, pointing toward the horizon. "Isn't it beautiful Mommy?! This is the best night ever!" A fellow Mom overheard this and said, "Awww, I wish my kids said things like that! Instead of always complaining and saying, 'I'm bored.'

 

There was also the time recently when I was watching some movie while you were coloring and a sentimental song started playing. Without looking up from coloring you said, "Mommy, I think I'm going to cry."  "Why?" I asked. "Because the music is making me feel something. It's making me sad."  Your heart felt the sadness in the song; the music quite literally moved you to tears. Though I guess I shouldn't be surprised since you have always been of the empathic, romantic sort. You observe the beautiful and the sad; you see it and you feel it. And I pray you always will.

We just celebrated your sixth birthday and one of the first things you said to me was, "I know you might be a little sad Mom, because I'm six now, but don't worry, even when I'm older and if I'm mean to you, it doesn't mean I don't love you. I'll always love you."

And I'll always love you son. Welcome to SIX. You'd better rock it!

Grey & Cash - you boys are the chambers of my heart and I am so proud of the fortitude with which you tackled your new beginnings this month.

I love you both to the galaxy and back.

Always & forever,

Mom  

 

Treehouse Tag

Brothers in arms during a game of tag at the playground. 

Happy first day of autumn!