...for a different kind of girl

silent surburban girl releasing her voice, not yet knowing what all she wants to say about her life and the things that make it spin. do you have to be 18 to be here? you'll know when i know.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

a letter to my son on the occasion of his 12th birthday

My oldest son started seventh grade Wednesday. Pedaling down the street on his bike to all points middle school, he stopped at the corner, turned around, and waved to me as I stood at the end of our driveway, where I stood attempting to be nonchalant, per his request. I was delighted he remembered to wave because he and I have made the school day wave a ritual since the bike he rode came standard with training wheels. For years, most of these mornings involved so many waves I'd have to finally stop and signal him to carry on, that his apparent love for me, while appreciated, wouldn't be the best excuse for a tardy. Today was a one and done kind of morning.

We've come a long way since he was 5 and preschool drop-offs were a special recipe of his tears of perceived abandonment blended until smooth with a heaping scoop of my guilt, and that's fantastic because this boy of mine also turned 12 years old Wednesday, and if ever he cries now, he certainly doesn't want anyone to witness the myth of his cool demeanor tarnished by salt water saboteurs. However, a few of those no gooders may have rappelled down my cheeks while I was watching him take the corner en route to school.

Twelve years ago, I sat on a couch for hours with this boy's tiny tush cupped in the palm of my hand, reading him books and promising him the world, and by some freak of science or the audacity of time, he now occupies the bulk of that sitting space when he sprawls out on it. Helping me up from said couch last week, the top of his head grazed my chin, and he cheered "I'm almost as tall as you now!" "Unacceptable!" I countered.

Unavoidable, too, I suppose.

My son is fearless. He wants to barrel down roller coasters and jump out of airplanes, whereas I like to pace the nice, solid, low to the ground kitchen floor and fight the urge to say no when he asks if he can ride his bike uptown to get ice cream with friends. I want to say no, but I say yes because we've reached a point where I'm supposed to. "Spreading their wings" is what I think they call it. While talking to my Mom yesterday, I mentioned my son had ridden his bike to school. "YOU LET HIM RIDE HIS BIKE!?!" she yelled at me. "He'll be alright," I responded, not yelling. As she ticked off her concerns, my head was singing "Your concerns are my concerns, too," but I just kept repeating "He'll be alright. He'll be alright. He'll be alright." The irony of my thought wasn't lost on me considering last week, I nearly assigned him a PowerPoint outline of 20 reasons why I should allow him to cross a busy intersection to go to the bowling alley. He'll be alright. I can't always be the one making sure of that, but I have to trust that he'll ensure it.

Because 12 years ago, I sat on a couch and promised a little boy the world, and every day this boy - now all angular lines, sharp edges, and filled with delight at the thought of being almost as tall as his parents - has been inching his way out into it even more. "Sometimes people don't always think things through and end up making the wrong decisions, don't they, Mom?" he asked me out of the blue a few weeks ago. His question made me smile for this is a boy who regularly needs to be reminded that underwear and socks shouldn't live to see another day, but I decided to use that moment for one of those teachable moments grown ups get to have with kids, and when we were finished and he seemed satisfied with what we'd discussed, he turned back toward the car window to stare out at the world.

Happy birthday, amazing boy. My world changed when you came into it. You deserve every bit of that world you create.



Anonymous TwoBusy said...

That was entirely lovely.

Also, I kind of want to give you a hug right now. Is that okay?

Thursday, August 20, 2009 9:57:00 AM  
Blogger Chasity said...

Isn't it amazing how proud and sad you can be at the same time? Your post was very sweet (and touched me). I, too, made promises to my little boys- I only hope I can keep them and not take the easy way out by locking them their room instead. I have to go chase down the tissue box my toddler ran off with now...

Thursday, August 20, 2009 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Desmond Jones said...

Sweet post; thanks for this. . .

"My world changed when you came into it."

Deep Truth there, my friend. . .

Thursday, August 20, 2009 10:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Betsey said...

I'm having all of *this* in regards to my ten year old too.

I guess I can accept it.

However, *this* is in no way any kind of an indication that you or I are, in fact, old.

It's just not so.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How sweet and touching. Happy birthday wishes to your son. And good luck wishes for him for the school year.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Badass Geek said...

Happy Birthday, kid! 12 is a wonderful and frustrating age.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 10:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My youngest started 7th grade Monday. Time travels much too quickly

Thursday, August 20, 2009 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Bijoux said...

Happy Birthday Son of Fadkog! Does he complain about going to school on his birthday? My son is always checking the calendar at the first of the year to see if his birthday (which is at the end of November) falls on the Thanksgiving break.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

That is one of the sweetest things I've read. I sent my youngest to high school this year...how is it that time seems to be speeding up?

Tell him Happy Birthday from all Mom's friends on the 'Net.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Leandra said...

Dang it! These letters always make me cry.

You're giving him a wonderful gift -- self reliance. And your trust. He'll be a better man for it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Desmond Jones said...

I've pretty much just taken the 'natural progression' of my kids thru their school years in stride, enjoying the excitement of 'new horizons' being crossed by each of our kids in succession. . .

But for some reason, the fact that 6F (perhaps because she's our youngest girl, and has always been my 'Little Peanut'?) is a HIGH-SCHOOL FRESHMAN this fall is completely spinning my head. . .

Thursday, August 20, 2009 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Bethany said...

Sweet sweet sweet. My bottom lip is poking out just thinking about the goodbye wave.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger Maureen@IslandRoar said...

Hey, it's my b-day too!
Beautiful tribute. What a cutie!

Thursday, August 20, 2009 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger Kate Coveny Hood said...

Beautiful letter. I shed a tear or two... Happy birthday Handsome!

Thursday, August 20, 2009 1:43:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt Becky said...

Something about this day brings kids full of The Awesome. Happy Birthday to our boys.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 2:26:00 PM  
Blogger motherbumper said...

Happy Birthday. Wow, struggling with letting my almost four year old spread her wings without clipping them is rough but you remind me why it's so important. Thank you.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 2:27:00 PM  
Blogger Penney said...

Don't lie to me, my baby will never be twelve. (But if it does happen, I hope I'll be as good at letting him spread his wings as you seem to be.)

And on that note, I've nominated you for a VERY important award.
You're going to have to check out my blog to get the details though, because I'm far too lazy to post them here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 3:08:00 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

What a sweet and wonderful post. It all goes by so fast. My son turned 30 today. We've had some difficult years, and I'm sure it won't all be easy in the years ahead, either. But I love him dearly and only wish him the best. Sounds like your little guy is growing up to be a fine young man.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 3:28:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

ditto of "twobusy" comments!
no moreneed to be said.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 3:36:00 PM  
Blogger Biscuit said...

Beautimous! We always wonder where the time went. My boy will be 11 in a few weeks, at which point his sister insists he will begin puberty. If he doesn't wake up with a mustache and deep voice, she's going to be very disappointed.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 3:42:00 PM  
Blogger Melissa @ I Pick Pretty said...

I can just picture the ritual first-day-of-school ave. Posts like this make me produce my own "salt water saboteurs". Well said, invisible internet friend.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 4:12:00 PM  
Blogger The Stiletto Mom said...

Crap you made me cry. Mine turns 11 this year and even though I'm completely ready for him to go back to school, I tear up at the thought as it's his last year in elementary school.

Why do they have to grow up so fast?

Thursday, August 20, 2009 4:19:00 PM  
Blogger The Savage said...

You may want to get him a bullet-proof vest.... I see many a shot-gun toting father in that little handsome devil's future

Thursday, August 20, 2009 7:30:00 PM  
Blogger Swirl Girl said...

while I usually come here and leave some snark - today, I shall just say that this was such a loving post. thanks for sharing.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 7:54:00 PM  
Blogger Vodka Mom said...

that was incredible. A toast to your boy, and to many more birthdays to come.


Thursday, August 20, 2009 8:03:00 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Lovely and well done. My 12 year old starts school in a week. Sigh.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 9:59:00 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Really lovely post. I think I can't imagine my kids at 12...but it will be here sooner than I think.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 11:29:00 PM  
Blogger Tuuli said...

Oh my, really lovely post. Made my tears flow in a good way. :)

Friday, August 21, 2009 1:31:00 AM  
Blogger WILLIAM said...

Excellent Post.

Friday, August 21, 2009 9:38:00 AM  
Blogger FTN said...

I came here to make fun of the blatant Mommyblogging, but... [sniff] I think I'll [sniff] let this one slide.

[sniff, lone tear running down my cheek.]

Friday, August 21, 2009 10:13:00 AM  
Blogger thatgirlblogs said...

Happy Birthday!

You know, my 12 year old is girl crazy. Have fun with THAT this year.

Friday, August 21, 2009 10:37:00 AM  
Blogger That girl from Shallotte said...

My. God.

Diff Girl, I sit here with tears streaming down my face. I don't even have kids, but the vibrant beauty of your words made my heart grow three sizes today.

Friday, August 21, 2009 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Mary Ellen said...

What a sweet post. Happy birthday to your son. Enjoy.

Friday, August 21, 2009 11:45:00 PM  
Blogger Claire said...

Lovely post, beautiful boy.

My youngest is 13, and now towers over me. His voice is deep, and he finds it endearing to kiss me on the top of my head.

Just wait.

Friday, August 21, 2009 11:52:00 PM  
Blogger anymommy said...

Tears. Gorgeous. Mine haven't even started school yet and I'm sobbing. Nothing to see here, go on without me (waves hand weakly).

Saturday, August 22, 2009 4:44:00 PM  
Blogger Choppzs said...

That was beautiful..my Girly turns 12 too next month and starts 7th grade next week...It is entirely to soon and I am getting entirely to old...lol

Sunday, August 23, 2009 12:39:00 AM  
Blogger Zip n Tizzy said...

And the tears are rolling down my face.

Happy Birthday handsome young man!

Sunday, August 23, 2009 12:53:00 AM  
Blogger Bee said...

::sigh:: Is it weird that my sister has to calm me down when it comes to my niece? I'm always like "You let her sleep over at her friends house?? Don't they have dangerous items like stairs and knives?"

Happy Birthday to your son! He is going to be a heart breaker!

Sunday, August 23, 2009 1:07:00 AM  
Blogger Leslie said...

Beautifully written.

And you are right...he'll be JUST fine.

Sunday, August 23, 2009 1:03:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt Juicebox said...

Happy Birthday to your young man. My daughter will be 16 in a few weeks. We have a tradition of going out for ice cream after the first day of school since she was in Kindergarten. Tomorrow will be the second to last time we get to do that. I'm very sad about it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009 3:18:00 PM  
Blogger Mec said...

This was a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.

Sunday, August 23, 2009 4:08:00 PM  
Blogger Christina Lee said...

aww loved this- happy b-day sweet boy1

Monday, August 24, 2009 6:51:00 AM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

Happy Birthday to your boy! What a cutie he is!

Your kids are the exact ages of one of my best friend's girls. It's really something to see them getting So. Frickin. Big! DAMNIT just hold your horses!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger for a different kind of girl said...

Thanks to all of you for sharing birthday greetings with my son. When I told him people on the internet wished him a happy 12th birthday, he just smiled. It's a pretty awesome smile, so I was glad to share the sentiments with him. He's a pretty kick ass kid.

Thursday, August 27, 2009 4:11:00 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

What a beautiful post. Your kids have a wonderful Mom.

Thursday, August 27, 2009 8:07:00 PM  

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