“Single digit years are for learning,
but the double digit years are for earning”….The Wisdom of Tyler at 10
Double Digit Man and his AM radio
How’d we get here so fast? It seems like only yesterday, I was holding our little peanut, our tiny precious baby boy, this last precious child. The weeks quickly turned to months, then years, and now here we are: The first decade is in the memory vault now.
I still remember your birth like yesterday. You were born twenty minutes exactly after we got to the hospital. Yes, twenty minutes. You were almost born in the car, stuck in traffic between a State-Carolina game and NC fair traffic. Then we went to the wrong hospital entrance, the one for heart attacks, which your dad was about to have I believe. When asked my name at the admissions desk for cardiac patients, I screamed, “THE….. BABY……. IS…… COMING…….. OUT!!!!” No further questions were asked. I was wheeled faster than a NASCAR pace car across the hospital campus straight to maternity. I was stripped, pushed down, and not anesthetized. A few excruciating moments ensued. BOOM! You arrived.
We hit the ground running that day. We haven’t slowed since.
But you started leaving me a little too. And every day forward, it’s been a little bit here, a little bit there, but always something each day slips away from those first moments we shared, never to return.
Year One through Five:
You changed completely. And then changed again.
You started out speechless, and pooped your pants a few thousand times those first few years. And though it felt like forever, finally, you reached hygienic independence once you saw your preschool peers do the same thing. Those victories were so huge then. Still–we forget them.
Many sleepless nights were then followed by you learning to walk, and talk, and then talk back. You also learned to count, say your ABCs, read, write, build, create, and understand. Like the caterpillars we ‘re currently watching transform into butterflies, how quickly our baby transformed into a little boy.
Years Six through Ten: You became even more of you:
You became my creator extraordinaire. Somewhere between your starter set of Duplo blocks and your attic room’s current infestation of countless Lego kits, you changed. No longer content to just build a Lego kit, you now can design a Lego Masterpiece from scratch, or take a kit and rebuild it into something extraordinary, functional, and new that is NOT in the instructions either. You do this and don’t even have any pieces left over.
You’re a stroke of genius, and sometimes madness. You are our pint-sized genius who sometimes struggles to write legibly and “stay focused” on school work; yet somehow manage the most complex concepts. As a toddler you didn’t speak until two and a half, and then you went from barely babbling to a string of sentences literally in a matter of a few days. There were few first words, only big ideas.
You memorized complex lyrics to the Phantom of the Opera by age four. You can tell me now who produced or starred in every Batman movie ever, and what year it was made, where it was filmed or who produced it, etc. You’re the king of trivia and Monopoly, but can’t seem to quit using your fingers to do basic math. Despite ten thousand requests, you still forget to wash your hands after a bathroom break!
You are my Doctor Doolittle. You are the sensitive lover of animals who helps me bury and pray for the souls of the severed remains of every creature killed by our Lion King-like cat Toby the Hunter. You have begged (successfully, I might add) to keep all the strays we’ve ever found. After all, four pets is NOT too many, right? Then there’s the rescued birds, bug collections, and caterpillar hatcheries. With our four-footed friends, we both giggle and squeal over what we call “cuteness attacks”. You tell me you feel like your heart might explode from happiness when you watch our cats cuddle together, or the dog sneaks a kiss with Toby. I feel the same way when I watch the joy on your face.
You are my Mr. Business. You are my competitive child who is determined to get Boardwalk & Park Place first in Monopoly. You understand money, and amazingly, how to leverage OPM (other peoples money). You actually think of things like propositioning your parents to buy raffle tickets for your unwanted toys in order to buy more toys. You beg me to show you how to sell stuff on eBay, and have asked me to teach you how to monetize your own YouTube channel. It doesn’t matter that I don’t know yet how to do these things, never mind the time, you’re willing to wait, or better yet– pester me until I find myself doing that which I really don’t even want to do. I watch you “take over” when in a group of kids, immediately assigning the tasks of the playground, and wonder how do you even do that? Charm and confidence will surely compensate for any lack of knowledge or skill sets, I have no doubt.
You are My Connoisseur of Culture: You’re my partner in a shared love of history,art, science, drama, and music. It delights me to no end that you appreciate going to museums and enjoying visual or performance arts with me. And in our first year homeschooling this year, I like it when we work together—the blissful moments where the whole house is quiet, even the dog and cats are asleep and then our little one room school magically fills with the sounds of opera. Or U2. Or Vivaldi. Or Lindsey Stirling—YOU introduced me to the music of this amazing violinist. How did you know? You just do this all the time. Telling me things I don’t even know. Wonderchild. That’s what you are.
You are the best little brother and grandson ever. Though you’re growing up mostly as an only child, you are all over the big brother and sister who helped me when you were a baby and who now laugh and revel in your presence when ever they visit home. You’ve found a way to worm your way into their hearts too. They are like hip parent substitutes around you, alternating playing Santa to your childhood desires and being dutifully annoyed by the little brother who took over one room and then another, claiming more house real estate then they were ever privy to. You bring them so much joy and laughter, just like us. You are also the delight of your grandmothers and other relatives. You are a baby with extra time and toy benefits with them. You have kept their hearts young with your exuberance for discovery. Nothing beats seeing life the second and third time around through the lens of a child.
Fast Forward to Now — The Birthday:
For your birthday all you wanted was a Play Station 3. You said you’d rather have that than then a party. I acquiesced, as after having choreographed thirty-four kids birthday parties for you and your siblings before this one, I woke up this year and realized: I’m toast.
I gladly “traded” a high-value gift for a high-chaos party. We were both happy. You got your Play Station. But you also received a microscope and a Snap Circuit electronics kit. After eating cake, instead of zooming to your highly coveted video game system, you did something that surprised us. First you got out your microscope. Then you built an AM radio. By yourself. By following directions with your Snap Circuits. Yes, follow directions. Those two little words I often say, as though I’m a foreigner from a strange continent, speaking to someone with selective hearing loss. But these things you’re interested in? You’re laser-focused and assembled the radio independently like you’ve been doing it forever.
These are the moments where it’s so COOL to be a parent. The ones where your kid just totally surprises you. So hours after the family birthday dinner ended, Daddy and I, couched and tired, watched you create your radio. In a matter of minutes, we were listening to the static-laden AM broadcasts of war in the Middle East that was immediately followed by the soft sounds of 70s singers Olivia Newton John and Kenny Rogers.
Oh son. Life is more like this AM radio world then you know. We’re nestled inside our cozy little home, but just beyond our walls, lies a darker world of death, destruction, and a multitude of wars for our very lives and souls. I want to shield you forever from evil, and fear, and anxiety, and worry, and stress and hurt and just blanket you with Olivia and Kenny or musical theater. I want to lay out a blanket of furry critters for you to always be able to cuddle with. I want to spread overhead a sky full of rainbows and eclipsing moons and falling stars.
I want you to grow up, but not at the expense of losing the magic.
I want you to experience all the triumphs and love of being an adult outside the limits of this family, but wish I could spare you the pain too.
I won’t be able to stop it. Loss and hurt and hard are as much a part of life as discovery and wonder and amazement are.
All I wish today is for you to stay awhile. Stay a child a little bit longer.
I kiss you goodnight, and as this decade closes, I silently thank our God for being so gracious. This beautiful baby boy born in the autumn of my mothering years—I am blessed by your presence in our lives, beyond what I ever could have dreamed. I love you!
Happy 10th birthday. Love, Mom
This is what a cuteness attack looks like!