And you are all grown up. This last week has been peppered with phrases like, “But I’m eating my dinner Mom because I’m six, and six year old boys know how to eat their dinner.” This of course is said in great seriousness while you are polishing your halo so that I notice the brief second during which you are better behaved than your sister.
And while you are grown up enough to do your own school work and put on your own shoes, and bathe and dress and, I still enjoy this one, wipe your own bottom, and wipe up the puddles around the toilet and get yourself your own breakfast, though I don’t know if scarfed granola bars and the occasional secret scoop of ice cream you try to get away with instead of muesli really count as breakfast, you still need to sit in my lap sometimes and get hugs and kisses. It’s so strange to hold your long bony muscled body that smells of sweat and faintly of pee and remember the tiny baby who stole my heart 6 years ago.
I’m sometimes at a loss when confronted with your boyish otherness. You are a lot like me, but you are a boy too, and nothing like me at all. You have it in you to tease and sneak and engage in secret missions in a way that I find baffling. When faced with a pair of scissors you find yourself with them in hand, looking for something to cut. Like the time last year when you crept up behind me and cut a slit in my favorite, and only Gap sweater. It think it was probably a combination of the sneaking and cutting that caused it to be such an alluring target. Or the time last week when you cut a square out of the new tablecloth with scissors. I only paid $2.50 for it, but still, this tendency toward the destructive makes me want to scream.
You are also trying out sarcasm, without really understanding irony you stand and say over and over the opposite of what you mean. Until I figured out what was going on I just thought you were being profoundly disrespectful and we kept butting heads. Now we can just talk about when it’s appropriate to try those things, which is less unpleasant.
For all of our foibles, I’ve never parented a six year old boy before, and you’ve never been one, I think you are fantastic. And sweet. I still get a kick out of your drawings, they get more detailed and creative every day. I like it when you sing and play and tell me you want to be a music teacher when you grow up, and teach your children to play “pliano” too. But sometimes you will leave them at home with your wife and go to work; where you will teach other kids how to play piano too. You would be good at it, you are a good teacher and very encouraging. Not a day goes by when you don’t tell me that I am doing a good job. “Good job getting me that cheese I asked for mom, thank-you.”
Being your mom is a pretty rewarding job. You learn fast, you are eager to please, you remember instruction, you are often polite and well-behaved. And I do my best to let you run wild sometimes, tearing around with guns and swords while yelling fiercely to intimidate your enemies. I’m trying to let you be a boy. I keep running into people though who think that it’s not okay to be a boy and that even running around the park and roaring shouldn’t be allowed. You’ve had to learn not to just randomly walk up to strangers and roar in their faces, something it never occurred to me you might need to learn before you did it, but I try to let you be a boy as much as possible.
You are not the kind of learner who is okay with making mistakes. You wait to try something until you have thought it over for an indeterminate amount of time and then, when you are ready, you just do it. Your first try on a two wheeled bicycle was a success. This summer one day you informed me that you didn’t need water wings any more and jumped in the deep end. I stood at the side waiting to fish you off of the bottom of the pool, but I never needed to. You’ve been swimming ever since. This tendency of yours holds you back sometimes, like when you won’t try something because you don’t understand how it works yet. Just like me, you want to avoid the school of experience and get things right the first time. But reading doesn’t work like that, often, neither does music, or life. You have to be willing to make a few mistakes in order to get to the beautiful sounds, the fluent reading. You have come so far in that this year and I’m really proud of you. I know what kind of mental obstacles you need to overcome in order to be brave enough to try when failure is a possibility.
I like watching your creativity blossom. Even when it involves duct taping all the pencil crayons I bought you for school together to make guns to play with. Really, I would have never thought of that.
You love it when I read to you before bed and your mind actively chases down minor plot points and characters wondering why the author didn’t furnish us with motivation or context for them. I love that you are so analytical, and yet you drive me crazy. You are my son, I understand you better than you might know, we are cut from the same piece of cloth you and I.
I’m thankful for all that you are. When I tell you I like you when I’m tucking you in at night sometimes you want to know why. Sometimes I don’ t know what to say, can’t pin down a specific point of light in the galaxy of things that form the being that is you. I like you because you are you. You are joyful, funny, serious, exuberant, generous, and grateful. You are a bright light in my life and I will always love you. Even when we butt heads I still love you.
I bless you this year to grow in confidence, to try, and be free to make mistakes, to learn more deeply to act with compassion and to be brave and trust, even though life holds no assurances of the outcome.
Here is the first movie mommy has ever tried to make. When you are all grown up and technologically savvy, be gentle, remember that I love you. The end