Well, Maxwell, today you are twelve years old.
Things are so different now from when I started this blog in 2009 or so. For starters, I had to ask your permission before writing about you and putting it out there, because now you are “out here”, and aware of things, and it really is just the respectful thing to do. (You obviously granted permission, or I’d not be doing this public declaration.) As we drove yesterday, talking about this entry and your birthday, you expressed amazement at getting here…to twelve, I mean. “I used to dream of being twelve. I can’t believe it’s happening tomorrow!” I asked why twelve, what’s so awe-inspiring about age twelve? You said its proximity to thirteen makes it very attractive.
And while you’re in a hurry to be a teenager (status, you said…and to no longer be called a “kid”…are big draws), I can’t help but do such a Mom thing and remind you to enjoy the here and now. There is a lot to be said for exactly where you are!
For starters, now that you have all the adjustment out of the way, middle school is proving to be awesome for you. You are having a chance to stretch your brain in wonderful new ways. We always knew you were a math whiz, but you have spent all year really blowing us (and your super-Ace math teacher) out of the water. You work hard for it, to be sure, but part of why you work so hard is because you like it and you like feeling successful. Who doesn’t? Who knows, maybe you’ll become a full-time mathematician after all. Other subjects have evolved into interests, too…history, for one. You completed your very first foray into MN History Day, making it all the way to regionals (honorable mention!) by playing James J. Hill with aplomb. And gym…who knew? I don’t think you expected to enjoy it so much. But as I assured you, it’s all about showing up and doing your best, and you’ve got that skill in spades.
But your backpack, your room, your locker (probably)? Oy. I guess you fit the Einsteinian model of messy, absent-minded professor in all respects. Good thing for technology; the ability to submit your work electronically definitely pays off.
You are just…easily absorbed, shall we say?…by the inner workings of your mind. Your imagination is as vibrant as ever, though your interests have shifted somewhat. You are a big fan of anime and manga. You love Sci-Fi and Star Trek. We bonded big-time over Harry Potter this year, and I just can’t get over how fun that was. You tell these incredible stories, full of detail and whimsy…my special favorite being the tale of the firefly and the gnome that you told us under a starry sky in a tent in NC this summer. You are still constantly, constantly reading (though now you’re always on the iPad. The danged thing.) You continue to be a caring and responsible big brother, who helps me more than I can say. If all heck is breaking loose, I feel like I can at least count on you to meet my eye over the fray of the shorter members of the family as though to say, without words, “Can you believe this?” It’s a sanity-saver. For both of us, I think.
We traveled a lot this year! First we went on our big summer road-trip to the southeast US, then just last month our family vacation (reward for putting up with FIVE YEARS of college-student parents, first one then TWO of us!) to Puerto Rico. By land or by air (haven’t tried sea), you enjoy exploring new places. You reported that your favorite parts of the road trip were visiting the City Museum in St. Louis and the Adler Planetarium in Chicago. And the pizza. As for Puerto Rico you said, “Can I be honest? My favorite thing was Church’s Chicken. And cable TV. The beach was pretty nice.” So: food. Travel, and eating. I get it: you’re a growing boy.
Case in point: you will likely be taller than, or at least as tall as, I am by your next birthday letter.
Sure, I am amazed at the way your body has grown, from the 8-pound, 21-inch package we brought home from the hospital to this tall and sturdy guy you’ve become. How does a body do that, in twelve short years? But more incredible to me, now and always, is how you’ve developed from the tiny, helpless baby who needed to sleep close to me, who needed us for every. thing. to this totally capable and amazing and compassionate and independent person. Someone who rides his bike where he chooses, who is learning to advocate for himself at school, who gets his own food and cleans the bathroom and who thinks these big, deep thoughts about life and shares them so eloquently.
How’d you get up there?
You astound me. Even in the moments when we engage in eye-roll stand-offs, you make me so proud. Exasperated, perhaps, but always, ALWAYS proud. That I was selected for the honor of raising you will always bring me up short. Oh stop rolling your eyes at that, I totally believe your spirit chose me and I’m grateful for it, OKAY?!?
You’re the first, and I know from personal experience that it isn’t easy to blaze the trail. But I hope that I had one iota of the grace you’ve had in facing down the challenges, first in line, and breaking us in. You go boldly where no one has gone before (with these two parents, anyway) and bless you for it. And I know you already know everything, c’mon MOM…but let’s us keep learning and growing together, okay personality-twin? I know I’m better for it, and I hope you will be, too.