When Your Baby Isn’t A Baby Anymore
I wrote this two years ago.
We had our first parent/teacher conference of the year with our younger son’s second grade teacher, and as we’ve experienced every year, we spend half our time talking about older son and how he’s doing. They all rememeber him so fondly. They all are eager (as are we) to see what great and extraordinary plans that God has for this amazing and extra-extraordinary 11-year old.
But something bothered me about this conference. His grades were all equally good. His enrichment experiences were also. His only poor mark was in handwriting, and her comment to that was “I’m not concerned. I know that he’s perfectly capable, he just isn’t choosing to do so.”
Finally, I voiced the words out loud that had been worrying me for months. “By this age, we knew that his brother was a builder, a creator, and inventor. His aptitude for construction and mathematics were already exceptional. But this one…where is he exceptional? He’s good at everything, it seems, which leaves me unsure of where to encourage him. What can I do to develop his passion, his talents? In what area is he truly exceptional?”
His teacher looked at me with 20 years of wisdom and learning in her eyes and just smiled wryly, then answered.
I sat back and sighed. ‘Tis true, so true. The deadly dimples have bloomed into a full-fledged capacity for reading a room, creating humor, delighting crowds and generally charming the socks off of anything within a 20 yard radius.
This morning, as I exited my bedroom and walked down the hall after getting ready, I heard his voice from the dining room calling out to me.
“Mommy? Mommy is that you? Come see me! I have not yet seen your beautiful face this morning!”
His older brother muttered under his breath: “Nice one, Prince Charming.”
Was he charming me? By all means, yes. Did I mind? Not one iota. That boy is welcome to continue charming all and sundry, because clearly, this is HIS gift and talent and passion!
Let’s just all start (continue) praying that boy uses these talents for good and not evil. As I’ve said before, he’s either going to be president or an evil dictator. The jury is still out.
And this, four years ago.
Lulled by routine and structure, we find solidarity for a time. Naively, I am caught off guard – still – when the calm breaks out into storm and once again, my insurgents are rattling locks, testing boundaries, vainly searching for weaknesses. Or not so vainly…
I am reminded of the cunning creativity of the Velociraptors in Jurassic Park. Dinos that think. Or rather, out-think.
Do you ever get what you want by complaining? I ask, annoyed.
Yes. He says, looking me dead in the eye and smirking. I do.
And finally, this….five years ago.
Your little face,
my own personal sunrise,
peeps over the edge of the bed.
Eye to eye,
nose to nose,
you dimple good-morning,
curl into my side.
More puppy than boy,
you never walk.
You gallop, frolic,
tumbling from point A to point B
climbing up, climbing down,
and it always ends with a race that you always win.
Physical. Tyrannical. Volatile, and lovable.
Determined, and forceful.
A tornado of emotion, one moment furious,
the next moment laughing,
easily cajoled out of temper
by a silly face or new discovery.
Animated, you never simply tell a story.
You illustrate with eyebrows and dimples, hand motions and volume.
Fearless yet fearful – the carousel still brings you to tears.
New faces, large crowds, or a doctor’s office,
and you bury your face in my neck.
On your own turf,
you are master and captain,
boss-man and president.
Happy, angry, laughing, tears, dimples, and temper.
My baby, my beloved, my boy, my last.
Here we are, on the brink of ten.
Legs growing so fast I can barely keep him in jeans. His sweet baby softness has been replaced by muscles and sinews and lean, but yet….
The dimples are the same.
The smile, it’s the same.
The easy laugh and bent to perform, the same.
When he sleeps, the eyelids and wide brow, they are the same.
The angel kiss between his brows, that darkens when he’s upset or tired, ever the same.
Morning cuddles, hot skin toasted from the swaddle of blankets, the same.
The size may be different, but the baby within the boy, ever the same.
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