May 26, 2012

They Grow up so Fast

Raising children is fascinating. Just when I think I've got them pegged, they surprise me. I do love to observe them focusing on a particular passion, no matter how short lived. For our youngest at the moment, the passion is Greek mythology and those Percy Jackson the Olympian books. For our second youngest, film and photography have completely taken over from her previous obsession with horses. For our eldest, life is concentrated on songwriting, performing, and reading classic novels like The Great Gatsby and Hard Times. It seems just a few short years ago that he was absolutely fixated on hockey, until, instead of a hockey stick I put a guitar in his hands. For our second eldest, the passion is undoubtedly his violin.

It used to frustrate our eldest that his younger brother, Galen was faster than he. Ian would say, 'let's race!' and when his little brother would win, Ian would want to race again and again in hopes of finally beating him. Ironically, it was Ian who spent years playing rep soccer. I suppose that determination to beat his little brother motivated him.

Ian and Galen's first soccer team

Galen was always an agile kid, the kind who climbed everything in sight: walls, trees, fences, and any jungle gym in sight. He also loved to challenge himself to learn a skill. I remember him practising head stands on a pillow in our living room, then hand stands, then running on all fours like a horse and leaping over furniture. He could also squat for two hours straight building dinosaurs out of lego, and would only stop when his body finally told him to change position and stand up. I thought at that time he may grow up to be a gymnast or an architect. Perhaps it was that ability to focus intensely, but also to persist physically, that attracted him to the challenge of the violin. He has now been studying for ten years and is preparing for his grade ten Royal Conservatory exam in December of this year with a view to a career in music.

Galen's first time making it to the top of a friend's fireman's
pole. The opening at the top is to the second floor of the home.

I now call Galen's bedroom his 'cave'. He spends hours in there every day, moving between his laptop, his violin, and the elaborate sound system he has rigged up to both record himself in order to listen for ways in which he can improve his playing, and to listen to his large collection of vinyl records and CDs, most of them Classical music. In his room he is watched over by his collection of movie posters, The Godfather and Pulp Fiction among them, because when he isn't thinking about music and schoolwork, he is watching and researching movies. He does come out for meals, or to tell us something important he has just discovered. He also likes to go for walks, hikes (I almost have to jog to keep up with him - he has my dad's long stride) and bike rides, but other than some soccer and baseball when he was younger he takes little interest in organized sport outside of phys-ed. class.

Next Friday Galen will graduate from high school. He will put on his suit and his black bowtie. We, his family, will all dress up as well to attend the graduation ceremony in the high school gym. We will have to arrive early in order to find good seats because nearly the whole town shows up to the annual graduation ceremony. We will watch the boys in suits and rented tuxedos escort the girls in an assortment of beaded taffeta ball gowns up the aisle between the rows of chairs set up for the occasion. We will take photos when Galen receives his certificate and when he shakes hands with the district superintendent and the principal of his school. We will applaud for all his classmates as they do the same, and we will find out if he has won any of the many scholarships we applied for. When the ceremony is over, the usual routine is for the families to proceed to the graduation dinner party, but not this year, not for us. Last month, Galen found out the orchestra he plays with rescheduled their spring concert for the same night as graduation. Some would say graduation only happens once in a life time, so he should go to the dinner, but not Galen. "I have been waiting all year to play this music," which is a program of pieces in celebration of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee. "I'd rather play in my concert than go to some dinner at the hotel (where his dad works.) Besides, I went last year when Ian graduated, so I know what it's like." When I brought up the fact that graduation won't end until about 7 pm, and the concert begins at 7:30 pm, he dismissed that as well. "The youth orchestra starts first. I will get there in time to play with my orchestra, and besides, I'll already be dressed for it." I could not argue with that.
Next year we will get a break from scholarship applications, graduation parent meetings, and the dreaded Graduation Portfolio project until our eldest daughter graduates in 2014. After that we will have a five year gap until our youngest says goodbye to her public school days. In some ways it is amazing to be at this point in our children's lives. When the four of them were little it seemed that the road ahead would stretch on forever until they left school, but here we are. When the eldest reaches a milestone the others are right behind him, on the verge of reaching it, too.


  1. Beautifully written, Rebbecca. This is a real tribute to an amazing and unique young man who I have had the pleasure to learn from:) I will always think of Galen as focussed, intelligent and kind. His smile lights up his whole face! As I read this I think again, as I often do these days, about that passing of time. I am now watching my grandchildren (a bit obssessively at times:) master the things my children learned just yesterday. The beauty of getting older for me is that everything becomes a little more precious. The moments embed themselves a little deeper and touch my heart in a way they didn't when I was younger, busier, less aware. Congratulations to Galen and to the wonderful family that encouraged and supported him in all of his dreams and will continue to do so I'm sure!

  2. It's these times like graduation that remind us how fast it all goes. Our oldest just graduated high school, and our second oldest will graduate next year. Weren't they just having races too?? Nice post!

  3. Oh how i hear you on this one - my how time flies...
    but isn't it wonderful how things evolve?

    what a a statement, that of all those things your son has learned, he understands what will mean the most when he looks back on his day. this is a lesson that i would say came from you. =)

  4. I recently attended the wedding of my neice {and God daughter}. That is the first of the next generation to get married in our family {I was the last} and it gave me many similar feeling to the ones you share here.

    Life is amazing isn't it. People are infinitely incredible and full of potential in so many surprising ways. To see a child make adult choices with care and consideration, to get it right and balanced is just..... well ok I'll say it even though I hate the phrase......... AWESOME!

    There - said it.And I didn't even grit my teeth!

  5. Thanks for the comments all. And I'm glad you didn't hurt yourself, Al ;)

  6. quite the milestone...for them and you mom...graduation is a crazy time filled with possibility...i wish him well...i was at my nephews graduation this weekend...i remember his birth, has flown for sure...and i see it in my boys as well...will be interesting to see how they change between here and there...

  7. Oh it really makes you want to stop the clock. Just press pause! Time passes so fast:)

  8. Congrats to you and the boy.

    Any news on studentships yet

  9. Thanks, Brian and Stephanie. Yes, sometimes it would be nice to press 'pause'.
    Vince: Thank you. We find out about the scholarships on Friday night.


I'd love to hear your thoughts. Thanks!