Grey at 6

October is a busy month. Pretty much everyone has a birthday in October. So I’ve spent the last few weeks running around like a chicken with her head cut off. (Brawk!) In the brief gap between birthdays and Mocksgiving, I thought I might actually (gasp) give you an update.

As indicated, my sons are both now a year older! So I thought I would tell you about who Grey is at six years old.

Grey's kindergarten school picture
Grey's kindergarten school picture

First, the facts. Grey is in Kindergarten – the second oldest kid there – with Mrs. Carrozza. She is a delightfully experienced, take-no-prisoners model of a Kindergarten teacher. Grey is 46 inches tall (3’10”) and weighs 45 lbs. Perfectly balanced now, in not too long he’ll tip over into more pounds than inches for the first time. He has reddish hair, the only blue eyes in his class and a little red mark on his right cheek.

Grey’s favorite things right now are Collectible Card games (Pokemon, Magic the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh – doesn’t really matter), DS games (he’s particularly enjoying Pokemon Soul Silver and Scooby Doo First Frights), and Kidz Bop music. He likes to read and reads everything around him, but prefers to stick to picture books. He’ll read a chapter book if you get him hooked, but he’ll rarely pick one up and tackle it himself. He’s spending a lot of time drawing detailed narrative pictures and labeling them appropriately. He adores Legos, and will build extensive Lego edifices. He never likes to break them up, so they linger in piles around his room.

Grey has also started telling intricate and often compelling stories. Last weekend we went hiking in Octobrish woods, exchanging spooky stories about what lurked in that pond, what was buried under that stone, and who we just saw vanish into a hole in the ground. Grey got really into it, telling terrifying stories with aplomb and timing. He’s at that delightful period of imagination after all sorts of possibilities have been introduced to the mind, but before you start living by the tropes and unwritten rules that so often govern grown imaginations.

He also has already put on his Gamemaster hat. I gave him his own set of dice for his birthday. Just like his father, he has a gaming notebook full of dungeon maps and notes. He’ll walk a party through the labrynth, usually with many explosions and all-powerful devices and incredibly rich rewards. It’s very fun, and a joy to watch. I imagine a day some day a few years in the future when Grey is running the “kids game” in the kitchen while we play the “grownups game” in the dining room.

Examples of Grey's work
Examples of Grey's work

Grey does aikido once or twice a week. He has a yellow belt, although sensei threatened him with its loss if he didn’t remember all the yellow belt techniques. Grey took the threat in the productive way, and spent all week working on tsuki kotegaesh with his father. Grey did swimming lessons all last winter and through the summer at summer camp. He can paddle around ok in the water, although I would not consider him a strong swimmer. I have no intention of doing swimming lessons again this winter. Getting them in conjunction with summer camp works out very well for me, thanks! He’s an excellent walker and hiker. We try to walk to school at least once a week, which is .7 of a mile. He’s gone on walks of nearly 5 miles in length in the past.

At Sunday School, Grey is really learning and paying attention to the teachers. He retold the whole story of Isaac and his sons the other day. He’s a bit rambunctious in combination with the other boys, alternating as a follower and a leader in their light mischief.

Grey dislikes being alone, except in his room during quiet time. Whenever possible he will be wherever other people are. He refuses to brush his teeth at night by himself, even if he has to sacrifice story time and even if I’m just a room or two away. He’s quite independent skills wise: he will set the table by himself, work on his homework, put away his clothes, feed the cats, brush his teeth, etc. But he will not do these alone.

Grey is particularly fond of cute things. He has a collection of stuffed animal friends who are not lovies, but who are treasured for their cuteness and relationships. They are, with hardly any exceptions, named AnimalName-y. So we have Puppy and Tigry and Liony etc. He also like cute people. One of his favorite people is the year old son of friends of ours, whom he dotes on as adorable. (Which, by the way, is totally true.)

So far, Grey seems to get along well with others. He has friends at home, at school, at church and at afterschool. He seems to make friends pretty easily. He doesn’t have one single best friend forever, but had plenty of people he wanted to invite to his birthday, and plenty of them came. He and his brother have started playing in more intentional ways, although Thane will still drive Grey nuts by taking whatever toy Grey’s playing with, or knocking down their shared block tower.

When I asked him how he would define himself, he said, “Grey is the person who loves.” Also, “Grey is the one who makes new friends, and visits his old friends.” Those are some pretty awesome things. (He would also like to tell you that one of his cats is stinky. It’s true!)

By the way, I recently posted a bunch of our pictures. You can find them here:
Late October 2011

The First Five Kid

When my brother was a boy, he had a very rich fantasy life. There were two tropes: Ruff Land, where Matthew Ruff lived (it mostly involved rules) and Spaceduck. Now, Grey has always reminded me a bit of my brother, but plenty of perfectly normal kids don’t build fantasy-tropes that they talk about for months.

The author illustrates his manuscript

Then I encountered The Five Kids.

The Five Kids have awesome powers. They get in fights with bad guys. They reason with bad guys and ask them to make better choices. They get to eat all the Halloween candy. They are orphans. They are brothers. They all die at the end. They keep coming back in newer and better patterns. There are ten of them. (I know! Just makes it more awesome! Apparently the first set of Five Kids were brothers and they met another set of Five Kids and made them brothers so now Five Kids includes ten kids.)

For quite a while I think the Five Kids were actually five of the kids at school — Grey was one, and Lincoln and some of the other kids. But Five Kids has merged, melded, grown, expanded. It fills the dark and bright places of my son’s imagination — his wishes and his fears. The Five Kids are there.

Knowing how transient this can be, I sat with Grey to talk about the Five Kids today. I did explain that sometimes I write stories on the computer, and people read them. He gave his permission and cooperation to share this. Here’s his first ever Five Kids story:

Five Kids and the Bad Troll
By Grey
When the First Five Kid was very young, and four years old, he had secret powers. His name was Drago. He had ice, fire, no sensitivity* and he had flames. He makes the flames by scraping his hand.

When he walked over the bridge, a big bad troll came and said, “I’m going to shoot you up!”

So he said, “I’m going to flame you with my flames! Kaching! Kaching! Kaching!”

And then the troll ran away into the water and he was free to go.


After this story, I did a brief interview with the author:

Interview with Grey
Q: How did you learn about Five Kids?
A: I went to bowling/wrestling and Jock Cina said, “The Five Kids are around here. Can you cheer?” And I cheered.

Q: Which Five Kid would you most want to be?
A: First Five Kid.

Q: What are the names of the Five Kids?
1) Drago
2) Mario
3) John Michael Robert
4) John Meana (because he’s mean to bad guys)
5) Fire Flame Guy
6) Scooby Lick
7) Fire Ice Squares
8 ) Camera (he blinds his opponents with flash)
9) Light bulb (he, uh, blinds his opponents with lights)
10) John Michael Cina Underpants (he included an illustration of Mr. Underpants)

So there’s your introduction to the Five Kids. If you talk to Grey, this is probably pretty useful, as he will assume you know what he’s talking about. I can’t wait to hear what the Five Kids do next!

The priceless document
The priceless document

*Apparently this means he’s immune to other attacks. The word choice is his.