every day, in every way...
This weekend, my oldest son turns 10. It is unfathomable to me that I'm saying this about a a child who was my first shaky attempt at parenting. I thought I knew all there was to know about being a mother before they actually handed this gorgeous creature to me and told me I now would be put to the test. However, in these 10 years, I've learned that I'm rather clueless.
I'm especially clueless when this very inquisitive boy spends so much of his days peppering me with questions about everything from bugs to basketball, from the planets to playing an instrument. He craves wrapping his mind around how ice cream can bring about a brain freeze ("If you were to somehow wrap your throat in cotton while eating ice cream, would it stop your brain from hurting?") to why it can be sunny outside and yet still be raining.
Everything fascinates him. If you have information about the Titanic, he'll be your best friend. If you're able to key him in with a killer lay up technique, prepare to spend the weekend in our driveway shooting baskets. Bonus points if you can arrange a way for him to drop out of fifth grade and go pro. My son, borne from parents who have the combined ability of two people better suited for the deep end of the bench, has developed into a truly amazing athlete. For several seasons now, our Saturdays are spent in a school gymnasium, watching him grow as an individual and as a team player. When he steals a ball and makes a basket, my already full heart swells to the point I fear it bursting all over and I want to rush out and hug him. I refrain, of course, so as not to embarrass him. But I know he knows this about me, for he'll turn to us after his success, pump his fist in the air and then be off. That moment is ours. His grace is astounding.Ten years ago, I'd hold this boy in the crook of my arm, his tiny bottom rested in my palm, and we'd sit there for hours and stare at one another. I was mesmerized by him. I never wanted to let him go, not even when the tears I didn't even realize were coming from me would land in a splatter on his little cheek. I knew I'd never have the opportunity to have these first experiences with him again, so I wanted them locked away in my heart. Today, I couldn't lift him if I tried. He nearly bumps into my chin when he stands near me, and trying to coerce a hug or kiss out of him is a game he likes to play, complete with a smirk. Instead, we've worked out a secret handshake. But when he thinks he's getting away with just that, I'll move in for a quick peck on the cheek. He tends to dramatically wipe them off, but he's always smirking.
This boy is fearless, a trait I never fail to be astounded by. Last year, he had to give his first presentation before his class. Not wanting my own insecurities to crowd any he may be feeling, I simply encouraged him to practice his speech with me, and told him that if it made him nervous, I wouldn't attend the teacher's invitation to stop by class on the day he was to speak. He assured me heartily that I should be there. When his name was called, I watched this boy - all skinny arms and legs - pop out of his seat, step confidently to the front of the room, look out at his classmates and then speak. Loudly. Clearly. Never once referring to his notes. Better than anything we'd practiced at home. Again, not wanting to embarrass him, I refrained from having my heart burst across his classroom, but he caught my 'thumbs up' and later let me hug him (in front of people, even!) before leaving. At that moment, I wanted that feeling of confidence in life that I could see he had.My son is compassionate and caring. He wants you to be happy, and will do whatever he must to assure it. He so wants to know everything, even when the learning process challenges him to the point of frustration. We're alike in these traits. When I tell him that, he sits up and wants to know what it was like for me as a kid. And he listens when I tell him. Really listens. These charming features of his personality are going to be huge draws as he gets older and starts to look at girls as more than just someone to ride bikes with. In fact, he's already starting to attract little nests of giggly girls who swarm around him when we go swimming. I'm bracing for the reality that in a couple of years, every time the telephone rings, it won't always be for me or my husband.
My son is rather delighted to now be officially in the 'double digit' age bracket. The way I see it, though, is how the numbers that come up and push him closer to being independent of us are now in the single digits. When I bombarded people with my own questions about being a parent before his arrival, they told me it would go by quickly, but I sat there and would hold him and thought it was impossible.Now I tell people the same thing when asked what it's like to be a parent. It'll go by fast. One day you're holding this beautiful baby and it seems like time has stopped, and next thing you know, you're looking square in the eyes of your child as they suddenly trip into you, all gangly and growing up.
Sometimes that's the only question I have an honest answer for.