Our second-born, our only son turned 10 today. And so I find myself ruminating on a decade of a boy who has brought us deep contentment, laughter, cajoling to eat fruit and the buying of many footballs. My time-strapped week has meant I had no time to pen a post to him, but then I recalled this post I wrote two years ago for when he turned 8. I wanted to repost it not just because its a particularly precious post, but because it says much of what I’d say today.
For sure, he may be that bit more street wise and want the latest haircut/gadget/football kit, greeted with varying degrees of ‘Maybe’, ‘No’ and eventually ‘Yes’. He has an increasing eye for hypocrisy or unfairness, pointing out truths about ourselves that are often a little too candid for comfort….. Yet we love this – the fact that he feels safe and free enough to tell us certain truths, holding us to account in the ways that we hold him. His humour has become drier, often side-splittingly funny, and despite having an ever increasing affection for screens, he still loves nothing better than us reading to him. Although older and cooler, he still stands on the child side of innocence, and so much of what I said in this post still stands. Enjoy.
‘You are Eight: a eulogy to my son’
I dreamt last night of you. A strange and slightly haunting dream that lingers longer than normal.
We thought we had lost you in a large, strange hotel. On finding you, you had transformed into a baby. I took you in my arms and cuddled you, my heart warming to the memory now being relived, of the treasure that you then were. It sounds trite that word ‘treasure’. Naff even. But it is true.
Contentedness. That’s what you brought to my heart. Unexpected contentedness.
Colic had blighted your sister, rendering her early days fretful, stressful. I’d always wanted a girl, yet when you came along I realised how much a boy could fit like a jigsaw piece to his mother’s heart…
In the dream, your dad grabbed his then much-used camera and started taking shots. “To grab those moments that I didn’t realise would slip away so fast” he said. Those moments that were shortened by the need to attend to the older one, I thought. I grabbed them with my heart too…
Then I awoke.
And now you are Eight and no less of a treasure.
You were born easy-going, and easy-going you still are. Life is simple, straightforward. Football, any ball in fact, bike, pencils, books, sticks on our walks. Minecraft and Lego. Fifa on x-box if only we’d let you….
Though you seem serious to those who know you only a little, when at home you are often wonderfully silly, your laugh infectious. Nothing is funnier than something involving toilets! Your affinity to dogs has never surprised me. Your loyalty and sense of fairness steadfast; a good friend is someone like you.
You surprise us with your hilarious sayings, quirky detailed drawings, the marathon cycle rides, precocious flashes of wisdom and insight that catch our breath. You fool us into thinking you’re older than your years as you reach for the last Harry Potter book in the series, showing us that there are many more ways to read a book than sitting upright on a chair…
Yes you have strops and moods: your impulsiveness is challenging, your dislike of daily chores even more so. But thankfully these are as short as they are strong.
Sensitivity you have too, so precious in a boy your age. Something to be cherished. We see it in your care for the mouse that the cat toys with and kills; in your sadness at hurtful words at school; for others who get hurt.
But now you are eight you are growing and morphing each day ever closer into a boy who no longer needs to be held so often, or so close. Challenge, risk, stuff that scares is your score. Fascinating to watch, so different from your sister, and one we don’t hinder. But that jigsaw shape in my heart will always know that you’re my boy when I hold you in my arms.