When Leo was almost 2 and Oliver just 4 we returned home after an 8 hour car ride. “The car must be so happy to be home.” Leo exclaimed. Oliver answered him quickly. “The car is a machine, it doesnt have feelings.” And there it is. In a single exchange my two sons reveal themselves. I delight in their differences, from one another and from me.

Oliver is grounded in the here and now. When we lived on the lake and were shopping for motorboats I imagined the thrill they would feel selecting our craft. I thought of happy days on the water, picnics and tubing, the spots we would explore together. But Oliver? He pointed at our dented dinghy and said: “We have a boat, why do we want another?” There is a contendedness that courses thorugh him, that I have never seen in anyone else. Every day I try to hold in my various little irritations to allow him to continue to float through life undeflected by my moods. And I realize that is ridiculous. It is me who is effected by the moods of people around me, not Oliver. I have to keep learning this lesson. My kids ≠ me. Just as I ≠ my mother.

Leo is a rock star. We head to the soccer field and friends quite literally swarm him. Three or more girls hug him, knocking him to the ground. Yesterday we got a treat after school and he stood, flicking his long hair out of his almond eyes licking a huge rainbow lollipop. He was catching the last of the Vermont fall sun and was gazing ahead. I followed the path of his eyes to two middle school boys on skateboards. I imagined what he was imagining. Himself in the future. I wanted to freeze him right there. And then they came closer and I wondered how he would handle it and their arms outstretched and in two fluid motions first one then the other gave him a high five as they skated by.

“Who were those guys?” I asked. “My friends.” He answered.
Obviously.

Another lesson in staying outside of his head. I have a story. He will have his own. I am content to watch it unfold, rather than shape it. At least today.

(excerpted from a much much way too long piece. Saved this fragment.)

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Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble, Parent.co, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at annarosenblumpalmer.com.