Sunday, May 6, 2012

May Day! May Day! Roman is 3!

Two little frogs.
With another May Day comes another similar, and ever-so-tangentially-connected-with-the-ancient-Romans, celebration of life: Roman's birthday.  Three-years-old and ever-growing.

This year we had a week-long celebration, it seemed.  My mom and step-dad were in town so presents flowed freely - not to mention the packages that kept coming from friends and family all over - and then at the end of the week, on Sunday, we had Roman's birthday party at a local gymnasium where the kids jumped in a bouncy castle, flung themselves into a giant foam-pool, and dazzled us with their giant parachute skills.  

Roman & his Pablo
It was a wonderful way to start a new year and new phase in Roman's life - enjoying more special moments with his best school friends and making more memories of Portland, the first city he is fully conscious of living in (and which he told me he "want[s] to stay FOREVER" in), before we move in June.

Roman's first three years have been a mix and mingling of many cultures, many impressions and many experiences.  While I am kind of resigned to the fact that he will only ever think he remembers most of those (for example, he claims he can remember all his friends and his house in London - you know, back when he was six months old!), I am also so glad that we have been able to document those moments and have them for him so he can know what an exciting and interesting and open life he has had the chance to lead so far.  But as he grows and becomes more independent and thoughtful, I face having to leave all those experiences and choices more and more up to him.  Sometimes he doesn't want to go to or do the things we want for him, and I suppose as a parent that struggle will probably continue forever and anon. Guidance and hope in equal measures are the tools of a good parent.

To that effect, I was struck by a quote I saw the other day, which encapsulates not only a theme but an aspiration I've held dear in my life and which I hope my son will one day ponder and find meaning in for himself:
"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." Harun Yahya
Two weeks ago I was talking to a fellow parent about how wild these past several years of our lives have been: from University to New York City to Londontown to Abu Dhabi to Portland, ME (!) and now heading to our next (and hopefully long-term) adventure in Denver.  I think a lot of people think we're crazy for moving around so much - they certainly show shock and semi-hidden disapproval when I tell them we're moving again! - especially with a young child.  But I was telling him that because we have every intention of staying in Denver  long-term, I feel no qualms about having moved once every year of Roman's life up until now.  Because while others might see instability and constant change, I see opportunity within the comfortable confines of a stable family unit. Aside from the stability we will provide in his life as a family unit, what I want most for my son is the ability to be flexible, open, and adventurous in his life.  To allow life to come at him and be fearless in trying the things others might find too difficult or inconvenient or out of the norm.  I want to model a life for him that screams out "Go get your dreams!  Even if you don't know what they are, go out, don't be afraid - go find your life!"

Blowing out his candle at his party the other day.
This child of mine who some might think has been pulled to-and-fro at the whim of his parents "obsessed with moving" (can't tell you how many times I've heard that one put into euphemisms), with seeing the world, has seen, done and been exposed to so much beauty, culture, adventure and so many different mind-sets and beliefs.  We have always tried to show him that different is normal, that uniqueness can be a privilege, not a burden, and that to truly be happy, you must, somewhere deep inside, plant and grow the seeds of true acceptance, true curiosity and true love of world and mankind.  

Eating ice cream at Smiling Hills Farm in Maine
Before he was born, Roman had already swum in the Aegean, ridden mopeds all over the Greek Islands and traipsed about on the Tube all over London. 

Before he was one he had ridden through the Chunnel, traveled cross-Atlantic a handful of times, and had more stamps in his passport than I had until I was nearly twenty.  He played in English gardens, eating British strawberries and having clotted cream. 

Before he was two, he had played with camels in the world's largest expanse of desert, had friends from New Zealand, England, Syria, the UAE and Australia, and
had Dairy Queen ice cream in Muscat, Oman.  He loved to eat dates, Labne for breakfast, and watched cartoons in Arabic every morning. 

Cape Elizabeth
 And in his third year, his first ever lived within the confines of his own home-country, he has become a lover of beaches, an eater of Lobster, an explorer, a runner, a cape-wearer, a puddle-jumper and player.  He has caught frogs and tadpoles, he has ridden through the snowy, Maine wilderness in a personal sleigh (being pulled by his father no-less), frolicked on the beaches of Ogonquit and Kettle Cove, screeched on his own race-track (the sidewalks of our neighborhood), and he has had the opportunity to become close to his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousin.

Cavenders in Dallas, TX with Ava
And yet, most days, he will sit in the living room and thumb through our picture album books, reminiscing about his "Abu Dhabi friend" Olivia and her brother Munch, or about his "London house" which he is insistent we go back and visit, or about the time we went to the desert and saw camels or about his "old school."  Those memories which he may or may not even know he had, are now there in his mind and heart as reality.  And much to my amazement and joy, he feels proud!  Proud of the crazy-back-and-forth life we have shared for these past three wonderful years.
And inevitably he will continue to ask: "Mommy can you read me the Abu Dhabi book again?"

I am so proud of him and who he is becoming.  He still mostly refuses to speak Spanish, but he will eat lobster, parmiggiano and fiddlehead ferns so I guess I can give him a break on the language thing.  :)  What an interesting little person Roman has turned out to be - I feel so lucky to be his mother and I can't wait to see what this fourth year has in store for us.

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