Phee Turns 13

a daughter; a blessing / an ocean; a storm

Phee Turns 13

I am the mother to a teenager as of today. As of today, I only have one child who’s still a child, still a tween. One child who sleeps in the home, who creeps in my bed. Another who has set her foot on the twisted and dark path, through the forest.

As of today, I don’t have two children gamboling under foot. Today I watched a father who did, who had a little one. Those days are gone, they slipped through my fingers. I enjoyed every moment, every bit, but that doesn’t mean I was ready to see them go.

Today, I have a daughter who is a young woman. Never again will her fields contain childhood until the day, perhaps, she stoops to catch up children of her own.

Today is auspicious indeed. It marks that blossoming of hope, that cause for celebration: a child who’s survived childhood. Intact, with a lot of fierce love blooming in her chest, with a lot of laughter.

My daughter is my hope, my strength, my roots but then she is the green shoot out of the wet earth. She is my strength and grows tall like a tree. She is a fierce prickly thorn in a rose and she is the sunset when its impossible beauty takes your breath away. She is stronger, kinder, more intelligent, less spoiled than I and than anyone I know. She is my heart.

She is my heart!

Phee Turns 13

Phee Turns 13

Phee Turns 13

 

Zoo Trip, Phoenix

so it turns out I know how to show 11 – 13 year olds an awesome day adventure

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

We took a page out of Phoenix’s 2013 birthday trip, and headed off to Tacoma today. We had a carload of rumpus!

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

I seriously cannot with five preteens. As in, cannot believe how wonderful they are! Here I’m just ordering them buckets of chocolate milk because we were on the first leg of the trip and had to get from point A to point B etc.

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

They were all grownup and ordered salads with their meal! Instead of applesauce. One child ordered applesauce, then hid it from view when this choice was remarked upon. Can you tell which child?

Birthday singing from staff, other customers, and her friends:
Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

And then – off to the zoo!

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

So like, in no way was our sole male attendee shunned by the girls… but neither was he particularly invited in when they’d cluster up like this. Which gave me no small amount of amusement!

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

 Rarely do I regret having just a phone camera (and no training) – but failing to capture the African Red Tip Starfish is one of these times. Gorgeous!

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

Six tigers sighted – including these little tigers. Some feistiness in the tiger enclosure. They are wonderful animals!

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

So, this lobster was massive. I found the other zoo attendees comments about eating him quite insensitive. Isn’t it exploitive enough he’s in a cage being bored off his ass – or whatever lobsters have for asses?

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

Jaws!

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

UM A DADDY SEAHORSE, PREGNANT

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

Her last day of being twelve. Excuse me, I have something in my eye!

And after the zoo – I got us to Krispy Kreme. Because, hello

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

Home to yoga, and delivering a meal to a new family with a brand-new baby, and unwinding a bit before crashing into bed.

a tigress

Phoenix Turns 12

Today my oldest child turned twelve. She and I took a wonderful morning swim together; then Ralph and I treated her and a few of her close friends to a turn at the rollerskating rink. We brought the kiddos home for gift-opening followed by one of her favorite dinners – spaghetti and meatballs with green beans and homemade garlic bread. Ralph made up a delightful cake. All in all, a day on the quiet.

All in all, a good day.

But – I’ve felt this odd sense of sadness as well.

A decade ago my first counselor predicted I’d go back through my own childhood, as I watched my daughter grow. This was true as she reached age two (which was an important age for me); and while I watched this unfold, I remember thinking it might happen around age thirteen, as well.

I hadn’t thought about that conversation, or that counselor, for several years. But now the day has arrived, and the time has come.

Twelve years old, things were getting rough for me. They didn’t get measurably better for a very long, long time.

My daughter is not me, though. She is herself. I remind myself of this.

Yesterday Phoenix and I joined Ralph and Nels at a local brake shop; we were seeking a quote for his car. The moment, and I mean the moment we arrived at a table to sit, an older, odd-looking fellow came right up to our daughter – RIGHT up to her – and started speaking at her presumptuously. She huffed this angry little huff and turned her back right on him and walked away. It couldn’t have been a more pointed message had she said something aloud. The man kept talking, and raised his voice to get her attention – but she didn’t turn around.

I stood between the man and my girl, my heart. I said aloud, “I guess she doesn’t want to hear what you have to say.”

I could easily see how my daughter had responded; at the same time, I felt stunned. I was surprised at her unfailing intuition. I know I didn’t have it, not at her age, and not for many years. I am still rebuilding it. I’d been trained to listen to any old (or young) creep who wanted to bend my ear, or tell an overlong story, “flirt” or “compliment”, or talk at me in whatever way he pleased. I learned this not at my father’s knee (he wasn’t such a boor – thank God); but I’d learned it from other elders. And as the fellow finally stopped talking and drifted away again, I had an odd feeling of disconnect observing my daughter’s instincts.

A little while later, she and I leave the shop. As we step into my car I ask her: “You didn’t do anything wrong – but I’m wondering, why did you walk away from that man when he began talking to you?”

“I have a right to when I feel uneasy,” she replies simply.

I put the car in gear and blink back tears. She is her preternatural calm, as usual. She is that fierce ice storm. She is that loving girl who slides her left hand into mine, and finds the New Wave pop tune she loves on my iPod. She says, “I want to sleep with you tonight.”

My wish for her isn’t just that she is loved, and cared for, and fed, and kept safe – but that she is kept safe where it matters most; in her own heart. When it comes down to it, she will be the one keeping herself, she will be the one caring for herself. I will be gone some day but maybe I live on in her breast.

She is growing herself up, and everything is as it should be.

“Oh, it was a banner f*cking year at the old Hogaboom family!”

This morning my children, husband, mother and I, as well as my kids’ friend A., hit the road and headed to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium as day ONE of our daughter’s BIRTHDAY EXTRAVAGANZAAAAAAAAAaaA

Tiger Cub, Snack

Tiger cub does BLUE STEEL —

***

OK then. I took a billion pictures of the red wolves – because I love wolves so much. They are spookily beautiful. Pictures can’t capture it. But maybe this stretch will translate pretty well:

Wolves

Wolves

The wolves really do move around in an eerily-coordinated pack; they grapple but silently.

Wolves

Feeding stinky waterfowl; many were shy about getting a tasty fish:

Dinner For Waterfowl

Dancing Shrimp! You are looking at their tails, here. They were shy and would not turn around, but they did have a coordinated dance going on. They were less than an inch long. Beautiful.

Dancing Shrimp!

A spooky octopus. No way to get a good photo; I just enjoyed her as she moved about.

Spooky Octopus

A handsome goat that kind of reminds me of Jasmine’s dubstep boyfriend. I refused to take a photo of the even-greedier goat to the left.

Handsome Goat

The arctic fox. Ralph and I have a great little story about this fella but it’s probably only funny to us. Anyway, my mom was so excited by his cuteness. She laughed and clapped and turned around to smile at Ralph and I as we walked toward her on the trail and I said to him, “the littlest grandma.”

The Arctic Fox

“‘Sup, we’re gibbons. DEAL WITH IT.”

Sup, Bitches

Children in the bamboo, being lovely. Nels:

Nels In The Bamboo

A.:

A.

Phoenix:

Phee In The Bamboo

Peacocking! These peacocks were shady as fuck. Like one creeped a single mama out to her car and stood there watching her and I think she felt a bit weird about it.

Peacocking!

Nels took many photos and texted them to his friend D.’s mama. So, there’s that.

Nels Sent Many Photos To His Friend D. Today

Tiger cub, playing! This was rather touching. You could see this fellow really loved the little feline. “Little”, a six month tiger cub about sixty-five pounds of muscle and hungry potentiality. Very powerful to watch, even as a baby.

"Play", Or, Practice

The two of them kept playing (the guy was like, “I’ve got a tiger, you don’t, so I’m awesome”) but I noticed the tiger would crawl up on the stump behind his human playmate, then jump on his neck and gnaw on it. This is how most tiger attacks go down – from behind, at the neck. And the VAST majority of tiger attacks are successful – for the tiger. (Here are some tiger attack tips! Also, LOLOLO). So anyway it was cute this guy thought the tiger was “playing” but it was actually, “practicing how to kill and eat him.”

***

This is E.T. the walrus. He is 3300 pounds of sass, and he likes to play with his massive walrus-dick (oosik represent!). While we were watching him he did this magnificent half-somersault, except instead of completing it it grappled his own business and whiskerly-chewed on it.

E.T. The Walrus

A photo on the steps; the kids talk about E.T.’s “trick” somersault, because my mom kept calling it a “trick” delightedly as she hadn’t caught the naughty bit of it until the kids finally detailed her a bit.

Friends @ The Zoo

Two siamangs cuddle after eating bananas. I gotta admit, it is satisfying to watch monkeys eat bananas. And it’s sweet to watch monkeys cuddle. And it’s sad to see monkeys in enclosures.

Siamangs

The touch tanks. Today was kind of special. I got to see the very moment a docent talked my son into touching an anenome; and he did. I got to watch him go from fear, to wonder. It was pretty cool.

Kids At The Touch Tank

Nels, staring down a nurse shark.

Nels + Nurse Shark

After our lengthy stay at the zoo, we traveled to pho, had coffee and doughnuts at the Krispy Kreme (the kids enjoyed watching them make the doughnuts and spent several minutes enthralled), and then I shambled my various coupons into Jo-Ann’s Fabric & Craft for some sewing supplies (I am not much of a coupon-er but FABRIC COUPONS are an organizing principle of my life).

Today was a good day: day one of three of Phee’s birthday. Tomorrow we have some more awesomesauce. We Hogabooms go hard, it must be admitted.

bella ragazza

For her next expression of personal style, at first Phoenix wanted to do some purple. Then while we were saving up for that, she decided she didn’t enjoy the dyeing process much (I don’t blame her!). We mustered our hair-stylist friend and Ralph’s partner musician H. who came over and cut the girl’s hair (Ralph’s too, which is looking sharp by the way). Sorry for the extra-dark pictures. Mobile phone at night, because late late night is the best time for haircuts!

We asked my daughter if we could take a picture part-way through, since we loved the little fringe in front and a long braid in the back:

Before...

Phoenix let us, and agreed it was a “cute” look, but wasn’t swayed from her original vision: all of her hair at 3/8″.

& After!

I told Phoenix the neighbor boys might give her shit, and taunt her that she looks like a boy. She said, “I know, I planned it that way. I get to look like a boy and be a girl.”

So, seriously, I have the best little roomates ever. Oh and P.S., as for our living-room stylist, I love supporting the under-employed right now, because it sure is happening around us a lot.

bunch of scalliwags

The neighborhood is one of the more kid-friendly I’ve known but that can always change. There are some new kids in the neighborhood and some of them are rather unprincipled with regards to other people’s property. Example: one or more culprits wrote, in mud, on the next door neighbor’s car, “I like poop and farts.” OK… you know… on one level we have to agree, that’s just funny. I am glad the mud-hazing was done on what the neighbors consider their “lesser” car. They have several shinier/newer/more expensive vehicles and they expressed repeatedly how upset they’d be had any of those received such a hazing.

So now all neighborhood kids are banned from that particular driveway (I’m not sure if they have any kind of enforcement plan). I talked to my kids about it (they weren’t a part of it and only hear rumors who did it). Nels made the tough decision to walk next door and tell the grownups he’d commit to helping keep kids out of the driveway, as a good faith neighborly effort. Ralph and I both talked to the parents there. Better still, Phoenix and I had a long talk about why she felt she couldn’t walk next door and discuss the incident, and my daughter and I had a long talk about this and I gained some wisdom regarding parental mistakes I’ve made (more I will not share, not now).

A few of the kids are just wild in general, and I mean very wild; several are medicated. A few more (most depressing to me) are servile and smiling and butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-their-mouth when they think they’re being watched by a grownup, yet liable to get up to anything when they believe they are not observed (hence the f-bomb incident between two such children yesterday).

My kids cope like you might expect. Nels with righteous anger, Phoenix with more politic and developed stratagems. That said, she is still a human being, and delivered a different kind of f-bomb today when the one child – who sprays other kids with our pool hose, deliberately and without regard to whether the other participant is agreeable, because he loves being the one-up in a bully scenario – kept doing so after my daughter asked him to stop. By the way, the hose-sprayer is also the kid who threw one of our cats in the pool. My mom has described this child as having “no moral compass”. You know personally, I think this is exactly the kind of risk one runs when practicing authoritarian parenting (whether involving hollow threats or ones delivered on). But I suppose parents feel good when they yell real loud at the kid to let us know they’re Taking Care Of It.

I guess writing here the summer kid scene sounds unpleasant to your average tight-ass but to be fair, here we have kids getting some freedom, fresh air, exercise, sunshine, and having a mostly fun time playing together. And in any case, it’s incredible to me how many grownups want kids to be “good” – or completely nonexistent – and how yet few grownups seem to know how to effect “good” kids without yelling, making many rules (involving segregation, lock-down, or punishment, none of which serve well for critical thinking coupled with spiritual wholeness), lecture, boring boring boring.

I enjoy the neighborhood kids but I wish they had more contact with grownups who provided gentle guidance. This isn’t because their “bad” behavior annoys me (although I hate to see our animals treated poorly), but because I think they’d be happier kids in general. They just don’t think they have many rights or that there’s much reason, besides the fear of getting caught, in respecting others’. When my husband told one child that “fatty” wasn’t welcome in our yard or in our home, because it was hate speech built on a principle that being fat was a shameful thing, the child in question just goggled at him. I think of the playground and classroom mentality many kids are regularly exposed to and what they learn as “normal” (i.e., all sorts of bullying and kyriarchal systems), often reinforced in the home, and I wonder how much it means to them to have a different place to be. Neither Ralph or I labor under illusions we can make much a difference, but we’d like the kids in our yard and home free from “faggot”, “retard”, “n**ger”, “fatty”, etc. – and not yelled or sent home with an earful of shame when they make mistakes.

Addendum: I must say that for now I’m totally fine with, in general, the kind of oath-swearing the nine year old, the freckled little beauty in my home, can deliver. She is the toughest little thing with a whip-smart sense of humor. Which reminds me: I gotta get cuddling her starting five minutes ago.

The Bay

¡feliz cumpleaños!

Birthday Party Morning

Yesterday Phoenix woke up, recieved a custom-tailored hot dog for breakfast, then was hustled through washing up and dressing and out the door for a swim party. Directly after that she was whisked to my mother’s for a birthday / piñata / dance party / cake and ice cream / costume contest and ended her evening staying all night with Grandma and up until about 4 AM reading.

Definition of happy memories, methinks.

Piñata

I Don't Think You're Ready For This Jelly

It was an old school Kelly Hogaboom party, in that I had many friends from many different corners of my life Рthirteen children and sixteen adults, including a few out-of-town guests. I was weirdly exhausted from all this, but happy to see our friends. Between a few of us Рmost notably my mother, brother, friend Amore, and I, we put a fair bit of work into the party. My brother created an amazing pi̱ata (the turtle, pictured above, filled with copious amounts of rather posh candy) and Amore brought some extra-special food.

Lineup

We also had a wee costume contest with prizes, and goodie bags for the kids.

(My little Gulper Eel:)

Gulper Eel

Friendly

So let’s see, okay for food, we had chile and cheese tamales (with all the fixings), frijoles refritos, fresh chips, pan de los muertos, bean salad, “beefy” taco dip (everything was vegetarian so you know, not really “beef”), banana pudding, a jack, chile and corn cake, and Mexican rice with peas and coconut oil. Amore’s birthday cake and some Breyer’s Natural Vanilla ice cream rounded out the aggressive amounts of chow.

Cake

Then there was a Dance Party which mostly involved Ralph, Shannon and I being way too into it (by other people’s standards anyway – & yes… we were sober) and a long chat with Jasmine, who arrived home early from work.

At the end of the evening – when I finally left my mother’s and all was calm and the party had been cleaned up (my mom, husband, and I share this compulsion) – I kissed my daughter goodbye and asked her, “Did you have a good party?” She looked up and me and smiled the most genuine, warm smile and said, “It was great.”

So, that worked out pretty well.

***

Today I stumbled out of the bedroom for a quick cup of coffee then an afternoon with our out-of-town overnight guests, Cynthia and her two dogs. Along with Nels and Ralph, we took a walk on the flats thanks to the sunny weather (Phoenix was at my mom’s, having stayed the night and reading Harry Potter hardbacks like a machine). Nels took a shovel and did some digging for precious gems.

Lineup

I’ve pretty much got the beauty of Hoquiam in my bloodstream.

The Flats

After lunch I crashed. I’m frankly disappointed in my low energy, but it seems it can’t always be helped. Today I took the opportunity to watch a classic B-movie which cheered me up more than just about anything else. Lovely, earthy Anne Francis! Leslie Nielsen in an Orlon jumpsuit! Mansplainy science! A sassy fucking robot! Lasers and monsters of the Id!

My heart was also glad at the sunshine, the cold but springy smell of the greenery, and Nels working along in the backyard (note SEKRET CAT!).

Mining

It was a good weekend.

(Do click for Ralph’s panoramic work):

The Bay

For my daughter, on her 9th birthday

Dear Phoenix Fire,

Today at 5:57 PM I’d just stepped outside the diner Forever The Oriole for data reception. I was acutely aware of your voice behind me at the counter, giggling delightedly with Grandma. I was thinking of you, of course, because you were born at precisely 5:56 PM nine years ago this evening, after a protracted and medically-interventionist labor of about eighteen (very rough) hours.

Obviously I loved you at first sight; I write “obviously” not because that’s the way it always goes but because I’ve directly told you this so many times I don’t need to tell it again. But I want to. I can still see your flushed skin and feel your softly fluttering heart. I can still remember how exactly you smelled because you smell the same way today!  I used to lie next to you in bed in those first days of knowing you and I’d tell you with a frank devastating simplicity, “There’s everyone else in the world, and then there’s you.” Your dad didn’t have everything I had for you, every bit of my fiber and bloodstream and physicality we shared, but he caught up fast. Who wouldn’t? You inspire love wherever you are.

Today as we walked together your hand sought mine and I felt as gleeful and amazed and happy you wanted me and we could be together a while, the same specific joy I felt nine years ago when I held you in my arms.

I’ve written before how much knowing you has shaped me as a person. Mostly you’re just such an at-ease being it’s often guaranteed I am improved by your presence. Your integrity, your compassion, your sedate intelligence and your good-hearted nature are unparalleled in anyone I’ve yet met. It’s not just me who feels that way – every week people are telling me in new ways what a delight you are. I see life through your experience and I see a happy girl who knows she is loved. This is quite a gift for me to witness, as when I was your age I’m not sure I felt so good.

A friend this week said you seemed like an “adult” to her in every way. Yes, I can see what she means, but of course you are very silly and I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this quite sternly. For instance at the restaurant today what was with you and Grandma’s jokes about “King Tut grows butts”? And when I told you to stop wrestling with my mother because these very sour-faced patrons were glaring at me and I was tired of it, you said, “Glare back,” and you did just that. I don’t have the guts you do but I aspire to. Someday.

Of course, you are the funniest person I know even if no, I don’t much go for “butt” jokes. You can screw up your face into any expression and you cast your voice like a spell. When you make jokes I invariably laugh because they’re funny as hell. I can tell when you’re happy and well-cared for when you are quick to laugh at mine. I can tell something is amiss when you scowl at me, although you don’t do much of that lately.

I don’t know how much time we have together but I do know I like drinking up every drop. Thank you for sharing your life with me. Stay as long as you like, leave when you’re ready. Let me know how I can support you in everything you need.

Much love,

Mama

Cobra

Pleased

The other night while we watched a cartoon movie you said, “That’s what I want for my birthday – a giant mechanical wolf!” Well, I’m not sure if that’s in the cards, but we were gratified to see how much you like the scary-looking robotic LEGO cobra Grandma got you. Thanks for not holding it against me that the wolf is not immediately forthcoming.

"Mutant Horse" by Phoenix Fire Hogaboom & Adam Moe

Christmas Gift

A few months ago I picked up one of Phoenix’s beautiful pieces from the many, many we have lying about, and sent an email to an embroidery artist I liked (I can’t quite remember how I first stumbled on his Etsy shop). To my utter delight he took up the commission and we traded emails, then upon completion some cash. About nine days before Christmas I opened one of the happier packages I’ve received in a while. Today the piece was featured on a blog I follow, Mr. X. Stitch:

"Mutant Horse" by Phoenix Fire Hogaboom & Adam Moe

The blog post was the kick in the pants I needed; I figured I’d better throw up the scan and commit to getting this sucker framed. My mom and I tried our own framing for Christmas but it wasn’t quite right. The framed piece is leaning on the kids’ desk right now but I’m going to take it in tomorrow and get a quote.

Here’s the original work:

Mutant Horse by Phoenix Fire Hogaboom

Here’s the treasure hunt “clues” my daughter found on Christmas morning that led her to this present. (P.S. I totally whipped these little clues up fast, no criticizing!):

A gift for Phoenie
A present for you
is hidden away.
First look to where we
your fine art display! [clips]

Patience is needed
if you know what I mean –
go to the locale
where you splash to get clean. [bathtub]

Your brother likes something
with nori wrapped ‘round.
Where is the place
the other ingredient is found? [rice cooker]

Your mom owns no diamonds
their beauty untapped.*
But if she had jewels
where would they be kept? [dish on my dresser]

You’ve been searching and searching –
you must need some rest!
Try a soft, high place
that Harris likes best [bunk bed]

When my daughter found the piece in her room I heard her say, “I can’t believe my eyes! I drew that!” Ha. She was quite impressed and quite pleased.

I feel stunned by the amount of artwork Phoenix produces and how very much she enjoys it. She has been working with a bit of Sculpey clay I bought and shows the same expressiveness, joy, desire, and innate talent. Now she wants more clay. Claywork is more expensive than pencils and pens but I’m going to make it happen, no matter what.

So I might as well put a call out to readers – any drawing (paper, pens, pencils) or clay supplies you can recommend (or those you don’t), let me know! I feel a bit lost in these worlds.

* Not passive-aggressive, I swear!