Kid1 turns 13 tomorrow. He will actually wake up a teen, having been the sort of delivery that makes one question having more children (he arrived after 22 hours of hard work, at 1 in the morning).**
I told him tonight as I hugged him goodnight that I’m proud of who he is. I asked him if he knows that. He nodded, his head resting on my shoulder because of course, he’s now taller than me. I asked him to tell me something he likes about himself. I was kind of whispering, so he wouldn’t pick up on the fact I was talking around a lump in my throat. He paused, grinned, and said “where do I start, Mom?” He then squeezed me hard and hopped off down the hall to bed.
He could start by saying at the school dance last week he made a point of asking people to dance who were standing by themselves, because he figured that would feel lonely for them. He could start by saying he said hello to a lady at the dance studio last night, who takes her granddaughter to class and who – when I arrived later in the night, said my son was so kind to notice an old woman sitting by herself, and to say “hi.” He could go on to tell the story of how he picked up shards of glass and mopped up water when poor Memere broke a snow globe on a recent visit. Unable to get down on the floor and make sure things were cleared away, Daws made sure it was cleaned up and calmed a very upset Memere down in the process.
This kid is all about sports and the outdoors and he plays as many video games as his overly strict parents will allow. He’s also held down a paper route (the most thankless task known to man, seriously) for years, pulled his marks from mediocre to excellent (after some extremely active parenting, but onwards either way), and is genuine – something I don’t see some other kids his age exhibiting. Is he perfect? No. Two years ago I found thirty Flintstones vitamins behind his desk, where he’d spewed them rather than chewing them. He thinks so fast he over talks his physical ability to form words, and he can be very hard to understand because of it. He is a terrible, atrocious liar. As in, when he tries to fudge the truth his whole body goes stiff and you can practically see his mind screaming “look natural!”
But he is my boy. He is the gift of a first born son to an only born son married to someone who never planned on kids, she just went with the flow. I think of Daws when I am asked if I feel lucky, because I’ve won roulette playing his birthday. We think he has a bit of Yoda in him, we ask his advice at stressful times – literally turning him into a childish magic eight ball – and it’s always been bang on. He is the kind of kid I would have wished for, if I thought I got a say in the matter. He’s online now, in places and spaces as much of today’s world is. He will see this, and he will know that I am heart burst proud of who he has become and what he stands for as a person, a friend, and especially a brother. So I guess I’m saying thanks, Daws. For being you and for living up to your name, our hopes, and your potential. When I asked if you thought you’d wake up changed in some way once you are a teenager, I was quiet when you answered “nope.” I was trying not to freak you out by crying. It was happy tears, bud. We wouldn’t change a thing about you. Tomorrow we celebrate the day you were born, but as always with you and your sister, your birthdays are about us celebrating the gift you’ve been to us. Happy birthday.
**I vividly recall my father-in-law – the nicest and smartest man I have known – telling me “this baby’s not going to be born today” around dinner time 13 years ago on November 4th. I barely held back from calling him a bad name. Dawson is named after his grandfathers and he lives up to their gentle, good guy natures each and every day.