There was a time, not that long ago, when all this growing up business didn't bother me. I couldn't understand why parents cried when their babies grew into toddlers and their toddlers grew into preschoolers. Watching Will leave one stage behind on his way into an even more interesting and rewarding stage made me downright giddy. I looked forward to his next year and the year after that, even if they arrived quickly, because I knew his best "little boy years" were yet to come.
But not anymore. Now, as we transition from Will's little boy years to his big boy years, I find myself sitting all alone (well, not entirely alone - I have Moo to
I started describing Will as "emotionally extreme" shortly after birth. Others brushed off this assessment of his personality with remarks like, "all babies cry" and "of course he's happy, you just gave him a cookie", but I knew - call it mother's intuition - that Will felt life more deeply than most children. Even now, Will's everyday ups and downs take him higher and lower than those of most kids (here's a prime example), and not in a "predisposed to drama" (like a younger child who resides in my house but who shall remain nameless) kind of way.
I worry about how all this will look as we transition from little boy ups and downs to big boy ups and down. Life is out there, waiting to delight and disappoint my sensitive boy, and more than anything I just want for him to survive it all in one piece.
I suspect that some of you with older children would like to stop me right here and remind me that, in the grand scheme of things, Will still qualifies as little. Perhaps, but do you know what eight years old looks like these days?! Nowadays, when you turn eight you receive actual percentage and letter grades instead of smiley faces on your homework assignments and tests. You compete against your peers for the coveted spots on the select baseball team's roster instead of simply playing for fun. You receive karate medals based on your performance instead of your participation. You learn that not every child plays nicely and not all adults act with kindness in their hearts. You realize that the world is so much bigger than your world, and that for many, life includes a great deal of pain and suffering.
Oh, and your room smells like boy and your mom frets over having to even consider buying you deodorant.
So I've decided that eight is enough. Eight is old enough. I want little boy years and little boy ups and little boy downs for a little while longer.
You can wish Will a happy eighth birthday, but then that'll be it for a few years. I'll let you know when I'm ready for my baby to turn nine.
My sweet boy, when I look at you I see myself. Your daddy gave you so much - your brilliance, your overwhelming desire to learn and understand, your throwing arm, your nose - but I know that I had a little something to do with who you are as well. Your eyes are my eyes, your smile is my smile. You have my competitive spirit, my perfectionist tendencies, my propensity to worry, my introvert vs. extrovert confusion (are we introverted extroverts or extroverted introverts?), my occasionally short temper, and my desire to keep the peace. You feel the ups and downs - and wear your emotions on your sleeve - just like I do.
As you prepare to take on your "big boy years", I too am preparing. I'm gearing up for the peaks and valleys, readying myself for the emotional highs and lows, because we're in this together. I will always share your joy and excitement, help you cope with your anger, and allow you to feel your sorrow. I will always be your biggest cheerleader and your strongest advocate. I will try to keep the little in you for as long as possible, but will love you all the same - maybe even more, if that's possible - as you grow.
Happy birthday, sweet boy. I love you to the moon and back plus infinity times a million with a cherry on top.