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Tag Archives | Caleb

a decade of caleb

This face of joy is Caleb, at one, at Barnegat Light on Long Beach Island.  He’d learned to walk at nine months, which meant that despite having a brain about the size of a walnut and a diaper the size of a basketball, he would climb up stairs, stagger along the curb, or waddle straight into the surf, utterly without fear.

This August, we spent our tenth summer on LBI and it’s Caleb’s favorite beach (which, given that he’s now spent time on beaches in the Maldives and Sri Lanka, is quite a compliment).  Our first summer on LBI, I was hugely, gigantically pregnant and wearing a maternity bathing suit that was so hideous it can be only excused by pregnantbrain. Why else would a woman in her last weeks of pregnancy purchase and wear a shiny teal maternity tankini? On the upside, I suppose I was responsible for any number of teen-age girls not getting pregnant  that summer. They took one look at my spherical teal body and told their boyfriends to back the hell off

But Caleb. My sweet, fearless Caleb, who still plunges into the ocean with the grace and abandon of a seal, he’s ten. He’s learning Arabic and computer coding and the trumpet; he wants to be an author, or maybe a spy, or maybe a mad scientist, perhaps a basketball player.  I think he might be headed for the stage, because the boy has never met a hat he doesn’t like:

calebinnurseryschoolnursery school graduation

calebindiaIndia – tiger safari (no tigers, just a hat)

calebsingaporeUniversal Studios Singapore: minion loot

This boy who loves hats and computers, who doesn’t read books so much as devour them, and who was as happy with his book about military history as he was about an envelope containing 300 dirhams (about 80 bucks, and okay, he was a bit more excited by the cash), doesn’t yet realize the strength of his own gifts.  He measures himself against his older brother, not willing to concede the difference that almost four years makes.  I think that might be why Caleb learned to walk so young: he wanted to keep up.  Now, however, with the dawning of pre-adolescent self-consciousness, he sometimes doesn’t try to keep up because he’s sure that he’ll never catch his brother.  It’s a funny trick of growing up, isn’t it, the way the confidence of childhood evanesces just when we need it most?

Caleb is our current-events child; he reads the newspaper and tells us what’s happening in Gaza, in Syria, in Ferguson–and then asks the hard questions that we should all be asking and attempting to answer: how do these things happen, why do these things happen, why do people care about the color of other people’s skin or the way they worship?

We moved to Abu Dhabi on the eve of Caleb’s 7th birthday and the traveling we’ve done since we’ve been here means that he’s been to more countries by ten than I had by thirty-five.  His passport looks weather-beaten, as if he were a career foreign services officer–and who knows, perhaps that’s where he’s headed.  I can’t even begin to predict what he’s going to be when he grows up–perhaps the stage, or maybe he’ll go concoct strange potions in some jungle laboratory. Who knows.

All I know is that our lives for the past decade have been richer and more joyous for Caleb’s presence.  I can’t wait to see what’s next on the journey.



Continue Reading · on August 24, 2014 in Abu Dhabi, birth, Children, family, Kids, Parenting, Travel

Saturday’s Snapshot (surat al-sabat): لقطة السبت

Sidelines at Caleb’s soccer football match last week:


I think we classify this image under “the new normal.” (Plus that little kid in the jacket looks like he’s developing some mad skillz)

When I wasn’t standing on the sidelines watching Caleb play, I wrote a post for the World Moms Blog about female heroines in YA literature.  Which is to say, the surprising lack of female heroines in YA literature, relatively speaking.  What heroines come to your mind? Leave a comment and join the conversation.

Continue Reading · on March 23, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, Books, family, Kids, sports, World Moms Blog

the seven year old, at 1.5

In my efforts to organize our digital photos, I found one of my favorite pictures of Caleb.  And then, as so often happens, the blog world stepped in and gave me an excuse to share this picture.  Galit, over at These Little Waves is running a linkup in conjunction with Alison at Mama Want This, called “Memory Captured.”

Caleb learned to walk when he was nine months old and began to explore the world (stairs! balconies! steep slides!) with utter disregard for life and limb. Mostly because he was so young that he wasn’t sure what “limb” meant, much less “life.”  And, of course, he had only the most rudimentary understanding of physics: thus this picture. The foot at right angles to the cupboard he’s trying to climb into, the clothes scattered around him on the floor, the complete concentration: I will get inside this whatever it is.


Continue Reading · on December 5, 2011 in Children, growing up

Religious Instruction, Early Morning Version

Caleb came in for an early morning snuggle. 6:13AM on Friday morning, which in this part of the world is Saturday. Well, actually, it’s like Sunday, the day of worship. Tomorrow, Saturday, is like Saturday.

Anyway. It’s early, I’m sleeping, he’s chatty.

Caleb: Why do the Muslims make Friday the weekend?

Me (into the pillow, trying to remember what I was dreaming about): It’s just the way their religion works, that Friday is the day people go to the mosque—the church.

Caleb: What is the Muslim religion, though?

Me: Um…be nice to each other and be peaceful. Most religions are like that.

Caleb: Even the Christian religion?

Me: Uh-huh…religions are about peace.

Caleb: Then why do so many wars get fought about religion?

Me: Don’t you think you want to go play on the computer now?


Caleb: Yes. But still. It doesn’t make any sense.

Continue Reading · on October 21, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, Children, Parenting, religion

Abu Dhabi Birthday Boy

Dear Caleb

Today you turn seven. You’re the first person in our family to have a birthday in our new Abu Dhabi life and it seems appropriate that it should be you, because after your father, you were the one most excited about coming here.  I’m sorry there haven’t been any camels yet, but we’re working on it.

This year will be quite remarkable, I know, and not just because we’re living in this fascinating place but also because your curiosity and imagination are going to make it more interesting.

You remind us that we’re a family and not just a bunch of people living under one roof: you’re the one who asks for family dinner and family game night.  And because I love that you want us to play together, I swallow my dislike of Risk (your new favorite game) and pretend to care about world domination.  Much to your older brother’s displeasure, you sometimes end up ruling the world (and although I don’t show it, I’m delighted when you beat him).

Your endlessly unspooling Lego stories, about conquest, espionage, battles and skirmishes, which you tell to yourself for hours and hours reminds Liam that there is more to life than computers and soccer.  I see Liam watching you sometimes, as you’re crouched, engrossed, over a floor full of complex battle scenes and he looks almost envious: he wants back into that world of seamless, unselfconscious story-telling, but he can’t quite get there.

I love that even though your energy could fuel a small city, you’re also very happy to curl up with a book or to sit with your markers and write a story (usually about battles, conquest, espionage, and world domination—yes, there’s a theme).

When we go to the park, or playground, or beach—wherever there are other kids—I know that you’ll end up playing happily with kids you don’t know.  You are good at making friends: every morning last year, when we walked into the courtyard of your school, a gang of kids would run to you, shrieking “Caleb’s here, Caleb’s here!” I know you’re nervous about starting a new school next month, but I know you’re going to be fine.

I love that your first action on coming home is to take off your pants: you wander the house in your underwear and socks like an old man from Queens. All you need is the remote control and a beer to complete the picture.  I love that you’d rather eat vanilla ice cream than chocolate and that you want to be a mad scientist, not a regular scientist.  And I love that you’ve never met a costume you didn’t immediately want to wear:

cousin mathilda’s cat tail and cat ears

This last week in Abu Dhabi, you’ve been learning to dive. You climb out of the pool, get your arms stretched up, your head tucked down, knees bent, push off…and slam! belly flop into the pool.  You come up out of the water smiling: “better this time, right?” Again and again and again. Stretch, tuck, push, SLAM.  Any day, though, it’s going to click. I can tell you’re getting close.

From the moment you learned to walk—at a ridiculously early nine months—you’ve embraced the world, not always sure you can handle it but always willing to try.

Happy Birthday my sweet Caleb.

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Continue Reading · on August 23, 2011 in Abu Dhabi, Children, growing up

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