A short while ago, a friend said to me, “You know, your little kid is your prototype child: He’s funny, he’s popular, he’s athletic, everyone likes him. . . By the time he’s in his 20s or 30s, your big kid will find his place in the world though and this will all make sense, I think he’ll surprise you.” I’m not sure if I felt buoyed or saddened by this. Do I only say good things about #2 and convey nothing but my worries about #1?
Once I considered myself an adult, I had many conversations with my mother about my brother and me. “You’re the one I never had to worry about,” she told me then. Kinda ironic in retrospect, given that my brother has turned out filthy rich (I’m pretty sure) and is living the dream. Nearing 50, I’m just making ends meet financially, having chosen a career path that leaves me beaten emotionally, fiscally and even physically some days. Just yesterday for example, in the span of two hours, a seven year old who functions like a two year old kissed me and drooled all over my therapy table before she crawled on the floor barking like a dog back down to her classroom; a fourth grader called me a white cracker; a fifth grade boy with autism told me to fuck off and pushed me away from the door repeatedly when I “suggested” he stay in my room. I think her worry was misplaced.
I think I worry equally and differently about my boys. Does that even make sense?
I wasn’t anyone’s prototype child, and neither is my little one, but you know what he is for reals? He’s my birthday boy! He turns eleven next week! Seven of his friends are sleeping over tomorrow night. SEVEN. For those of you keeping track, that means that Saturday night I’ll be drinking heavily until I pass out from exhaustion. I predict my Saturday lights out hitting me around 7:00 PM after probably one-half of one Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Do I know how to live or what?
It’s easy to celebrate my little one. He is hilarious, and I know from funny, people. He is silly and genuinely funny and he knows it. He’s well-liked by his classmates and teammates. He’s hard-working in school, on the gridiron, and on the baseball diamond–his baseball coach last season described him as a quiet leader on their team from the beginning. He’s bright and high achieving academically.
He’s a hundred contradictions–when you first meet him, he may seem quiet and reserved. He’s loud and goofy, but then he leans in for a kiss to seal his whispered proclamation that I’m the best mom on earth, looking at me intently and with an earnestness only a child possesses. He’s compassionate and gentle, and quick with an “I love you” while physically tough and focused in sport. He’s the kid who comes tearing down the stairs to tell me my favorite song turned up on the iPod and do I want to hear it? He gregarious, and not, making friends fast yet slowly at once, but once you’re in his circle, you’re in for life. He’s a dance party in the dugout and on the diamond and in the middle of the street and the grocery store, and, and, and. . . but crumbles in embarrassment if you ask him to do it again. He is the biggest slob in the entire universe, and somehow makes it an endearing quality.
Our world is a better place with him in it. How lucky for us all. Happy birthday, my baby. I love you. Like crazy.