We're writing about our children, apparently. Stephen wrote about his daughter, so I thought I'd write about my son. I don't write much about my kids. Frankly, they're so much a part of my life that I don't think of them when I sit to write. Not that my kids aren't interesting and intriguing and endlessly fascinating and beautiful; they're all that and more. But I also have a teacher's pragmatic approach to parenting. I feel ninety percent of my job is to keep them safe and fed and clothed and let them explore within age-appropriate limits. Maybe that theory stems from their independence, I'm not sure.
One thing I've never been is a wax-nostalgic parent. That's not to say I didn't love them as much when they were tiny, and don't get weepy at birthdays. I just feel that recalling old times with longing fondness can make kids feel that they aren't perfect just the way they are right now. I believe heartily in living in the "now" and teaching my kids to do the same thing. And the best thing about parenting is living in the now and looking to their future. That's what parenting is.
One of my friends once said I'm not a baby person, and I was insulted. She misread me badly. I loved my kids when they were babies. I never wanted to put my son down (and my daughter, always affectionate, never let me). I thought they were darling as toddlers--tiresome sometimes, of course, but I loved toddlerhood. Watching them walk and explore the world was brilliant. And now the school-aged years are even more fun. They rush from the car into the cold air full of anticipation, and not just for recess. I love this time, especially with my son. We do things together--music and movies and snowboarding. He loves to travel and explore and wants to go to Europe and England. I want to take him.
My son does sports: snowboarding and motocross and soccer. But he isn't so absorbed by sports that it's ruined his childhood imagination. He plays upstairs in his room for hours with toys--actual toys. I know nine-year-olds who gave up toys years ago, usually because of misguided parents who urge them too early into sports with four practices a week. Not so, my kids. They play.
My son is an unusual bird in many ways. I'd say his biggest feature, and maybe hindrance, is his emotion. Some people think girls are emotional; HA! I say. My son cries at least three times per day. Cries. Squirts tears. Literally. (You'd have to see his eyes to understand the impact this has on any adult standing around. Giant eyes make enormous tears.) And loud? He's got a great future on the stage.
He's sensitive to a fault, and like most nine-year-olds, this sensitivity ends at his own skin. But he is still different in that he is a child of extremes: joy or fury or sadness. There is little middle ground with my firstborn.
I admit I don't parent him well. Most of the time I blunder along, mystified. (Fortunately, he's got his father, who does understand him. After my Caesarian, he bonded with his father in the hospital. I didn't hold him until he was two days old.) My son's a button pusher--not really by design, but he just is. I'm never quite sure if he sparks me because he reminds me of my husband, or because he reminds me of myself. My most common, generally ONLY prayer, is that God will lead me to parent him in the way he needs. Most of the time I feel I do more harm than good, but I keep trying because he's my kid and I love him. When things are good, they're beautiful. We've laughed over his baby sister and rolled our eyes at his dad and ridden ski lifts together. He's run up to me, glowing and ready for a hug because he rode a hard run on his board without falling. To me he is ever beautiful, and I sometimes grin in the midst of an argument just because he's so expressive, so alive.
He was the most laid-back, spectacular baby you ever hoped to meet. George Clooney hair. Gigantic blue eyes. Cover Girl lashes. A ready smile that turned up the corners of his mouth. He slept 8 hours a night at 8 weeks; went to twelve hours by ten weeks. He ate well and always appreciated coaching on how he could get the food into his mouth more efficiently. He ate his first McDonald's hamburger at nine months. I said, "Here, don't tear it apart. You pick it up like this and take bites." It was gone in a matter of seconds. He's been eating us out of house and home ever since, regularly consuming more daily calories than me. His blue eyes have since turned brilliant grey but never fail to draw comment. "Oh," men and women say to me alike, "You're HIS mom. He has such beautiful eyes."
He blew rasberries at me when I changed his diaper at four months; I never dreamed it forshadowed the arguments to come. He was my sweet darling, always watching, always aware, always smiling.
And then at ten months he started to walk.
A child's entire perspective changes when they make the move from monkey to human. I liken it to what must have happened to the species over thousands of years; only in babies, it takes about a month. He got his own ideas, saw the world and went for it, full throttle. He's...independent. I've always said he'll make a great adult some day, but he sure is hard to parent as a kid.
The first time I said no he looked at me like I was nuts and just kept going.
That's pretty much how he's handled me since.
And I wouldn't have him any other way.