My boy is eight years old today. Same clear blue skies, same sumptuous autumn light. I blinked and the newborn got teeth, lost teeth, stretched, spoke, got gangly, learned to read, developed a healthy appreciation for sarcasm, the spotlight, Legos, Mr. Bill, Black Eyed Peas, hats, macaroni penguins, planets, jump-front kicks and America’s Funniest Home Videos.
The deep seeds of extraordinary compassion, silliness, curiosity and spirituality broke through the surface with curling leaves and tiny blooms.
He learned to read, draw in perspective, make grilled cheese, unlock doors, do multiplication and Sudoku and play Battleship.
He grew out his hair, shunned blue jeans, tore through chapter books, told jokes on stage in front of his whole school, wrote many pages of stories. He refused to ride his bike but glides blissfully down the block on his scooter. He’s mastered an impression of his toddler cousin getting angry at the dog for eating the eye off of his favorite stuffed animal. He will never hesitate to weave body function references and potty talk into conversation. He seizes all opportunities to get every single detail about topics that do not involve him at all.
He’s an ardent flosser, seat buckler, recycler, pursuer of justice, lover of peace, student of Ghandi and MLK and Jackie Robinson and Transformers. He’s earned dollar-coins and a giant commemorative Obama coin from the tooth fairy and three crisp bills for helping my mom babysit.
I knew there was a big world inside that 7-pound 2-ounce wavy-haired newborn boy with the absorbing brown eyes and rosebud lips and delicate fingers. I knew there was so much ahead.
I just didn’t know then that the details -- the “Mommy! I love that blue dress on you!” and “Mommy! What do you call cheese that’s not yours?” and “Mommy, look at this that I made!” and “Mommy, I can’t decide whether to be a Lego artist or rapper in an a capella group or scientist when I grow up!” and “Mommy, what does it mean when people say ‘soulmate’?” and “Mommy! Can I ride around the corner and back all by myself?” and “Mommy! Who is cooler - Indiana Jones or the Transformers?” -- would make my world come into such clear focus.
There is much more ahead, in this year and the many that follow. He will do big things, in whatever way big is to him. I look ahead and see that I will sit in an audience applauding him, stand by his side as he becomes a husband or father, cry and cheer and thank God as his life shifts in unpredictable, hard, challenging and amazing ways.
But when the big stuff unfolds, I hope I am still holding on to these details, to the questions and moments and little pieces of time that are not measured in milestones or money or resumes.
My wish for him is that he will find many ways to feel the way he looks breezing down the street on his scooter today -- completely happy, a little in awe, feeling big and independent and brimming with bravery and anticipation about what is around the corner.
Oh, eight. Gap-smiled and singing Katy Perry and writing sticky notes with research questions on the planets and gliding, gliding, gliding away and back -- eight is looking like a crazy, great place to be.
Flip back the scrapbook: