My baby is seven today. SEVEN. When you were six, I could still think, I have babies. The baby is gone now. I look at you now, and remember what you were like as a baby, a toddler, a preschooler.
But he is seven now, and seven is no longer baby.
and now you are in First grade. What a difference a year makes!
You are still in the Magnet class and it is fun to see you with your friends. You started riding the bus last year and you still like the bus. Daddy drops you off in the mornings, though, because it means that we get a little more time together before you go off to school and he heads to work. I get you from the bus stop in the afternoons, and you are usually a little grumpy with me. I guess you are tired and hot (it is still August and buses don’t have AC). You did great in Kindergarten, really progressing with your reading now. You still read with Tiller and Daddy before bed, but you also read chapter books after you go to bed, and we are worrying you don’t get enough sleep because of it. You are currently reading, “The Guardians of Ga’Hoole” with Daddy and Tiller, and on your own, you are reading “The Magician’s Nephew.” Just last night, you argued with me about whether you can read “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” first, and then go back and read book one (Magician’s Nephew), or whether you are supposed to read One first. I say you can do it either way. Not you. You like order and in an orderly world, you read One first, then move on to Two. Hopefully, some day you can forgive me for making you read Two first.
You and Tiller got razors for Christmas and you ride them around in the garage for an hour at a time. You don’t get sick and you don’t fall and get hurt. (Knock on wood.) Speaking of, we haven’t had any ER visits or really any sickness in a year. You and Tiller both missed a week of school last year because you had a puke once then have a fever for a week virus. But they weren’t bad and it just made you snuggly.
You don’t have too much time for snuggling this year, but occasionally, you will slow down and cuddle on the couch in your pjs with me or daddy. I realize now that they are dwindling that those moments will be fewer and further between. I try to cherish those moments.
You lost some teeth this year! The first two you lost at school and they just sent them home in a plastic baggie with your name written on them in sharpie. I felt a little gypped. But then your tooth got loose when Cousin Luci and Uncle Wade were visiting and you wanted me to pull it, and we made Daddy and Wade squirm while we stood in the kitchen, wiggling the tooth back and forth, wiping the blood with a paper towel and finally making it crack! and come out. You are not scared of the tooth fairy like Aunt Lisa was when we were little.
This was the year you ate all the chocolate out of the Advent Calendar. I know one day it will be funny, but right now it is still too soon. And the year you cut a chunk right out of the front of your hair. And the year that you got a mohawk. Three times.
I am amazed at all of the things you did this year. You played t-ball last fall and this past spring. You are a natural – always raring to go play, and really pretty good. Watching you out on the field, doing celebratory dances when you make a play, is like pure joy for me. I try to be modest, but i just about burst with pride at how you excel. You are about to start soccer this fall, again, and I hope you like it as much.
You learned how to ride a bike this year, and how to swim. You could swim before, but suddenly, you were going underwater and swimming the length of the pool and you even had your first year on Swim Team this summer. (Go Stingrays!) The competitive Mom in me had to wrestle with not pushing you, and letting you do things your way, even though I knew there were pointers I could give you that would help you improve. You finally listened a little bit and really improved your time, and then you spent the rest of the summer asking me to give you “some more pointers.” It was pretty cute, and I liked that you asked me, because usually, you want to do everything yourself, and don’t want anyone to tell you how to do it.
You also learned to go off the diving board! I can’t even tell you how terrified i was when you and Tiller and Daddy came home saying you both knew how to go off the diving board. And sure enough, we would go to the pool and you and your friends would jump off the diving board, over and over for hours on end. And then we would go home and you would say you didn’t feel good, but i knew it was just that you were completely waterlogged.
You have reached the point where you can sit and watch a whole baseball game (in person or on tv) and I am very much looking forward to watching some football with you this fall. You have learned the rules and can have a great conversation about it, and I never realized how satisfying it could be to have those discussions with you.
Just about a month ago, i let you drive the JetSki (with me right behind you) at the Lake. I had the kill switch, but I pulled over in a huge cove, far away from the shore or docks, and I let you sit in front of me, and taught you a little about how to drive it. Then I said, do you want to try? And you were excited. I was prepared for you to hit the gas too hard even though I warned you not to, so I wouldn’t get thrown off, but I don’t think you were prepared for it, and it scared you. You didn’t want to try and drive anymore, and I think it was a good lesson. Riding with you kids is one of my favorite things to do. We drive around to some usual spots, usually in the morning, before there are many folks out on the lake and you are learning your way around. You know the usual spots: Bulldog, Aerie, The Warm Water, Rooty Creek, Crooked Creek, and Goat Island. I ask where you want to go and you almost always want to go to Goat Island. It’s kind of “our place.” At the end of our rides, I always head back towards the house, and I make you tell me how to get there. When we get back near the cove, I ask if you want to do some circles, and you always say yes, and then I ride us in circles until we’re a little dizzy and you are just on the very verge of being scared. Each time, we go a little harder and faster. And this summer, we started taking you and Tiller out on the tube (nice and slow). The first time, we went out, and you were the guinea pig (except you kept calling it being the Hamster) and Foley rode as spotter. After that, I started teaching you and Tiller to be spotters for each other, and that has worked well. Maybe next year we’ll try skis.
You talk back a bit now, and you fight with us, and you probably are a little too addicted to video games. You definitely have your own ideas about how you want to do things, and you and I get into some arguments, but I am so very proud of the smart, funny, laughing, passionate boy you are. I love your eagerness, and your gap-toothed smile, and the way you drag your feet when you walk up the hill from the bus stop. I know you can’t stay my baby forever, that I have to work hard to make you a wonderful young man, to teach you respect and pride and the value of an education and courtesy, but I understand now why Mom and Dad still say I’ll always be their first baby.
You will always be my first baby. The baby with the skin that tans easily and the big brown eyes that just make me melt and the thick, wavy brown hair that always reminds me so much of my own, and of my Dad’s, and of the inexplicable ways that we are all three so similar, just a little line of stitches marching down the hem of time. Pop, Daddy, Me, You.
You. My baby. Always.
You in the last year.
And you this morning, on your seventh birthday.