Monday, December 5, 2016

Grown Up Child

Change is life's constant, they say. I've heard the more things change, the more they stay the same. Which one of those two is it exactly? I'm not really sure but this is the time of year that has become the unpredictably predictable one. 
I just finished all of my holiday cards. I've been doing this for a decade now, each holiday season I've had a kid cause she's cute ;). But the list has grown with very few drops since somehow life has been kind enough to let me keep most of my friends while getting new ones. Kiana does some of them, I do some of them. The postal service seems relevant for something besides bills. I'm cheesy enough to where as I sit there with stamps, I put them on and really hope that even though I don't see them regularly they are ones I share a little bit of forever with. Some of them become a little big embarrassing to me in realizing that I haven't put appropriate effort when I realize that the last time I talked to them was when I was getting their address. But with most, it is a moment to recognize and look back on their life and mine over the course of a year. 

For several years now, I've put a quote that I hope encapsulates the spirit of the year (though multiple people have pointed out I usually forget to put the actual year on there). And for the last 3 or 4 they've all been quotes from Doctor Who.The methodology is simple, I go through and grab pictures of significant things from the year, let Kiana whittle them down and then lay them out. 

The quote this year was "there is no point in being grown up if you can't be childish sometimes." Who that's referring to I honestly am not quite sure... because as I look back on this kid who is just 9 years old, I was still not sure which one of us is raising the other. Someone sent us our first two Christmas gifts for the years. I opened mine and started enjoying it day of. Kiana got hers and said well it's not Christmas yet so I'll just leave it under the tree till then. At that point,  it was fully confirmed which one of us was raising the other. That night we'd go to a social run that was post Thanksgiving and most of the options were pretty healthy, fruits, vegetables, nuts. Kiana got all that and I went for the chocolate covered almonds... Shortly after I wrapped the Christmas presents I'd already picked out for her and put them under the tree with full confidence she won't try to figure out what they are before officially opening time. And I thought I was made out of will power. 

But there was a pattern to the picture that I didn't realize till the whole card being printed out. While they kept highlighting our adventures, some established and stepped up (Spartan, speaking engagement, running races) and some new (her bicycle ride and her learning to play chess), they had one thing in common. Every single one of them was a local picture, at an Austin event. While we've had a chance to travel still and done races out of town again (including a Spartan and a 5k picture that were in the running to be chosen), somehow it was refreshing to realize that our favorites ones were right in our backyard. I often name my teams the scarecrows with the joke of 'if I only had a brain' but turns out maybe Dorothy was onto something that there's no place like home. It is the people you are open to share that with that mean more to me than just the big events. Perhaps it's why this year it's the most pictures there's ever been of me on my own holiday card, acknowledging that I was actually there sharing the events.

But it was also the fact that it's been a year where I've both loved and struggled with watching Kiana grow up. I've long said that my parenting philosophy was 'first you give them roots then you give them wings' but this was the year in which for the first time I didn't make Kiana a meal on the first day of school, she made it. It was one where ideas like me reading to her were so antiquated, where she was placing in the UIL chess competition, looking a few moves ahead. Those pictures of most of those events together were ones where I wondered whether I was trying to hold onto her childhood by enjoying rolling in the mud at Spartans or riding a bike with her just around the neighborhood with her. Yet those moments that to me harked back to childhood even if I hadn't experienced them were to her one more stepping towards growing up. It was riding next to her dad but trying to do it faster, getting to where she could do pull ups, taking him to a stalemate, reading books in 4th grade that he hadn't gotten to till late Jr. High, pointing out ingredients to purchase for her recipes that well he'd never cooked with, telling her about her school project while he pretended to check his email so that he could look up the words in the assignment so his smart phone didn't make him feel as dumb. Two childish grown up or was it two mature children racing, living, loving side by side was 2016. 

Some other things are almost identical to something that happened two years ago. Kiana and I did the Trail of Lights Fun Run. Two years ago ESPN was filming it and Kiana cried at the end because it hadn't been long enough (only run she's ever cried at the end of)... the concept that this was a fun run where 'I'll Walk, Yule Run' I hadn't communicated it well enough and she just wanted to get to the finish line. Two years later we started more like the back of the pack, jogging it out and stopping to take pictures with the lights, some without pictures just to point out the details and looking forward in the middle of the run to coming back to walking it and taking it in even more. Perhaps just if not more importantly, our approach of sharing it hadn't changed long after the cameras were gone. The hot chocolate at the end was still very good. 

When it was being filmed it was the day after an MRI. This time I have an MRI in about 48 hours. They were filming that then too along with the results. I was nervous then and now. With an anxious mind, I have made mistakes including then and other MRI's about relationships and just general approach to life. People sometimes advise me not to make them again but that's like saying just will power your way to a faster marathon. Being better prepared helps but to think anything in life is 100% certain by better preparation is a good way to trick yourself. Still, I am trying and hoping to show people I care and not make any drastic mistakes. This is one where the point is to be grown up not childish.

But the chess coach, as I do before each MRI, has made a list of what to do if things go awry and being a grown up requires me to see that things in my brain that are not good have grown. It doesn't help to do it when right now due to whatever, I have a letter that says I don't have insurance at the end of January and I need to go back to the market and apply. It does help actually that this weekend, I am helping put on the Decker Challenge, the half marathon that I did after getting out of the hospital, the one I have been a part of every year since I started running it, the one ESPN filmed me running the last time I did and that I have been behind the scenes. It was the one that gave me the randomly assigned 911 at my first half after finding out I had cancer and I joked 'I don't even have to put an emergency number on the back, you guys put it on the front.' No matter what the results are on Thursday I'll be out there at that event focused on a race that once upon a time helped me regain focus on that running was going to be my therapy. I hope me helping run the event now is the way it shows that the universe balances itself out in the end. 

But no matter how that MRI goes, and here's hoping it goes well, once that's done and the race is done, I'm going to end the weekend by being a little less than fully grown up and have some happy holidaze. 

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