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Upon the Occasion of Your First Decade

Posted by on December 3, 2015

Dear Oliver,

Today you turned 10 years old.

Every year (every.single.year! I know!) I mention how impossible your aging process seems to me. I’m not sure why; you’re a human boy, blessed with all the physical necessities for continuous growth and well-being, and yet it is somehow still so strange to me that you don’t look like this:

Baby.

Baby.

Or this:

Toddler.

With your wee little curls. Squeeeeee!

Or even this:

Cheeky monkey!

But rather, like this tall drink of water:

Colt-like. All legs. September 2015.

Colt-like. All legs. September 2015.

This year has been such an exciting one for you. You travelled outside the U.S. for the first time (sort of? what is a commonwealth or an “unincorporated territory”, anyway?) when we all flew down to Puerto Rico over your spring break. It was the light at the very long tunnel of both your parents finishing higher education degree programs, and we had a grand time together that week-and-a-half. You, perhaps, had the grandest time of all…your first flight! Swimming and almost, but not actually, being carried off to sea! Watching umpteen million episodes of Teen Titans GO! D&D! Running uninhibited along the 16th-century ramparts! You were in your element, let me tell ya.

At Castillo San Felipe del Morro, our favorite outing of the trip.

At Castillo San Felipe del Morro, our favorite outing of the trip, April 2015.

It was such a good time, in fact, that I knew you were more than ready for your next travel adventure: the long-awaited pilgrimage to NYC. For the first time in probably your whole life, you got both of your parents all to yourself for an entire long weekend…AND you got to see New York! I could (and should!) write a whole separate post about that trip, but suffice it to say, you are now a most seasoned man-of-the-world, and it was my absolute privilege to make your horizons a bit broader this past year.

At One World Trade (in its opening month, even!) with teeny Lady Liberty in the background, June 2015.

At One World Trade with teeny Lady Liberty in the background, June 2015.

In the Lion King lobby, Times Square, NYC June 2015.

In the Lion King lobby, Times Square, NYC June 2015.

You learned to swim, you played tennis all summer long, you started piano lessons and really enjoy playing. You found books you love (finally!) and can’t get your fill of manga. You’ve read all the Yu-Gi-Oh that the local libraries have in their collection. We also did a lot of work together this past year to get your busy body and your busy mind into better alignment. You felt comfortable¬†in school for the first time in awhile, in large part because of the effort you put into your extra-curricular work. You still don’t love handwriting, but you found muscles you never knew you had, you found (some) persistence. You found a calm center, somewhere deep within, that had been hidden by all the ceaseless movement of your younger years.

If things get too quiet, this is where we'll find you.

If things get too quiet, this is where we’ll find you.

While you left some things behind, the very Ollie-est parts you carried along with you, still. Your humor. Your caring heart. Your innate curiosity and openness to the world. Your fiendish cleverness, now honed into keen strategy. Your mind is full of facts, and while they are mostly pertaining to Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh characters, you have a knack for memorization that puts your old folks to shame. Your current D&D character is a wizard and you play its backstory with compassion, while adroitly recalling spells (in all their minutiae) to suit each challenge the team faces. And speaking of “teams”, you really understand what that’s about, how to listen to another’s perspective and share yours in the hopes of reaching a peaceful consensus.

Even though you’re the peacemaker, you still tussle with your brothers, though. Constantly. You are, after all, a ten-year-old boy and a middle brother, so it only stands to reason…

Since we tend not to take pictures of you all fighting, please accept in lieu this photo of you and the other fellas being silly at Mickey's, July 2015.

Since we tend not to take pictures of you all fighting, please accept instead this photo of you and the other fellas being silly at Mickey’s, July 2015.

We lost some beloveds this year, too, unfortunately. It was the first time you’ve been old enough to really understand death, and as a parent it’s one of the most terrifying things about parenting: how do I explain the temporal, fleeting nature of life to my young children in a way that is meaningful, but not frightening? How do I navigate the process when my own heart feels so broken? Your response was, simply, remarkable. When your pet hamster, Wilbert, bid his farewell to this plane you accepted the tender condolences of your brothers, but had a remarkable frankness about the passage. “All things must die, sometime,” you said, with a touch of awe and sorrow but a more impressive measure of quiet assurance. You have a faithful heart, an antidote to my own angry and questioning spirit in the face of death. You humble me. When our family recently lost two incredible, amazing, utterly indescribable matriarchs, you were reverent and steady. Your great and great-great aunts adored your heart, and you continue their legacy of peace and love and cheerfulness in every step you take in this world. Great-great Aunt Betty always got a chuckle out of your antics, but your great aunt Linda pinned no less than the fate of the world on your more-than-capable shoulders:

"This guy. Right here. May save the world or just make it a lot nicer place to be," she wrote on this picture, posted on your first day of 4th grade, 2015.

“This guy. Right here. May save the world or just make it a lot nicer place to be,” she wrote on this picture, posted on your first day of 4th grade, 2015.

And I’m more than inclined to agree with her. I saw it in you the very first moment we met, that your heart was sent to teach me, and all who know you, what goodness is all about. It’s fitting that you were born with the sunrise, my sunny child. Stay gold, Ollie-Bear.

Meeting the sunrise.

Meeting the sunrise.

Love,

Mama

3 Responses to Upon the Occasion of Your First Decade

  1. Lena

    I wish you the Happiest of Birthdays Ollie, you are an Amazing young man that is going to do Great things, of that I am sure. I am so very Proud that you and Donavyn are such good friends. I look forward everyday to getting my good morning greeting and sometimes a hug when you arrive at school. You have a very caring heart, never change sweet boy. Lots of Love to you on your very special day. (((BIGHUG)))

  2. Grandma carolyn

    You are so lucky to have each other. I am so happy too for this day of birth.

  3. Rita

    I love your posts, Courtney, and your keen observations and the deep love you show for your boys. They have a wonderful mama.

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