A New Season

Freshly 8, Keana Swings on The Swing We MadeFor those of you that know me, you know I love baseball and I love my Giants. I also happen to be one of those people that believes baseball is a metaphor for just about everything in life. Don’t worry, this won’t be a baseball analogy post, but the Giants just started their new season, and as they were starting spring training, lots of things were in transition with Team Hokama too.

First and foremost, Keana turned 8. Somewhere between getting ready for her party, my good friend Larry’s wedding, and a landslide of work, I have yet to document this momentous occasion. So here it is, the official entry in our record books. We did our usual trip to sushi and over spring break hosted a party for her friends. The only problem was that no one showed. I know, very disappointing. We took a risk having it over break and we’ll never do that again. We know every one of her friends really wanted to come, but it wasn’t totally up to them. It was one of those tough “life moments” as a parent, having to watch your child experience that kind of disappointment, and not being able to fix it. Luckily Tia and Cousin Olivia came, so that made it more special. We were at the park, so we ran around a bunch and played chase on the play structure, and of course had plenty of chocolate cake.

Keana is growing up in every way imaginable. She’s able to communicate any thought or feeling with just about any type of person. The more she learns and understands the world around her, the taller and brighter she seems. It’s like that shift you see as a parent when your kid leaps (seemingly overnight) from being a toddler to a “real kid”—there’s been an almost a perceptible change in the eyes, as if you can actually see them seeing the world differently. She’s tall, freckled, elegant, hilarious, determined, brilliant, beautiful, and completely comfortable in her own skin. And she still doesn’t mind us calling her Zooba, which I love. Tonight she helped me barbecue chicken, putting it on the grill and painting the sauce on, and I told her I had images of her being the only one of her friends in college that could properly grill. Watching her blaze the trail before her sisters is awe-inspiring and somehow heartbreaking at the same time.

And guess who’s going to follow in big sissy’s footsteps in just 4 short months? That’s right, Big Maíj has been accepted to kindergarten at Keana’s school. It’s not really a surprise, but we’re trying to make this leap as special and unique as we can for Maia. Of course she’s a little apprehensive and scared now, but it’s fun to see how ready she is and that hidden excitement behind the fear. The sleep chart with stickers is still working like a charm and she seems to be the one responding the best to our not-so-new gluten/dairy-free diet. I’m not sure I’ve seen any behavioral changes necessarily, but certainly there have been some improvements in the digestive realm. She, too, is seeing and understanding more of the world and for Maia, I think a big part of what that means is more risk-taking. In physical ways she’s been more adventurous than Keana, but socially that hasn’t necessarily been the case. I recently made some trapeze bars and swings for the trees in our front yard and she was the first one to figure out how to hang from them upside down and run and jump onto them, sending herself spinning in a mini-whirlwind. Maia’s athletic prowess is really fun and exciting to watch and I’m excited to watch her grow and thrive in “regular” school soon.

Last but never least, Aliya. Aliya Aliya Aliya. What a spirit. The leap in her ability to communicate this past month has been phenomenal. She can tell you just about anything she has on her mind and has been asking tons of questions about everything she sees and hears. She’s recently stopped fighting putting on a diaper at night—she’s totally potty trained during the day—but on 3/10 she fought the nightly diaper fiercely, and when Sarah was getting Maia ready for bed and pulled out Maia’s underwear, she said, “Hey! Those are my underwear!” So Sarah asked if she wanted to try sleeping without a diaper and she said yes. Then before Sarah turned out the light she reminded Aliya that she didn’t have a diaper on and she said, “I’m not going to pee in my crib.” So that was pretty definitive and we thought it might just be time. The next morning I asked Aliya how the night went without diaper and she said, “I peed in my underwear. I peed in my crib.” Very matter-of-fact…and she’s still wearing the diaper at night. However, she has recently been asking to sleep in a “normal” bed, so I see some big changes on the way for her. I have to admit I’m not quite ready to make another night-time-sleeping transition, but who am I to stand in the way of progress?

One thing I absolutely love about Aliya is her confidence. I don’t know how many times a day I tell her to be careful and every time she replies, “I am careful, Papa.” It’s this same confidence that has certainly landed her the award for “baby that’s fallen the most,” but she doesn’t let it stop her, and I love that—even if it scares me. Last night, as I waited to drift off to sleep, a memory from the day’s events played through my mind like a movie: we were in the front yard, with Maia, having (barefoot) foot races up and down the driveway, and without any reason or prompting, Aliya takes off full speed. As she’s careening around the corner—and as I’m wincing with worry that she’s going to bail on the concrete—I shout, “Careful Babe-in!” She whips out of sight but I hear her adorable voice trailing off, “I know Papa. I am careful!”

She didn’t fall. In fact, as she came running back, careening around that same corner towards me, she had a huge smile of shear joy plastered on her face as if to say, “See Papa. I’m fine. Let’s do it again.”