Oh Simon, you are 8. How is that possible? 8?! You were just a baby, I swear it. You just had stinky milk cheese stuck in the fat rolls of your neck. It feels like yesterday, and yet- a million years ago. You are still the sweetest boy I’ve ever met. Of course I am biased, but others often tell me how kind you are, how good you are, how sweet you are. But they don’t need to tell me, because I know.
Our weekday mornings together are lovely but short. Your dad and I are up at 5am most mornings. Part of that is due to George climbing into our bed and kicking us in our faces, but also we start the day early. I’ll go exercise to get it out of the way before you wake up, and Dad goes into work early. Dad and George leave the house by 6:45am and I hop in the shower while you still sleep. At about 7am your Batman alarm will go off and I’ll hear you grumble and groan about not wanting to get up or go to school or do ANYthing, but that’s usually the grumpiest part of your day, because you love your sleep, as you always have, forever.
But you dress yourself now, as most 8 year olds do. Then you go downstairs and watch your favorite show, Lab Rats, while I get myself ready for the day. Some mornings you’ll sit with me and pack your lunch and listen to a Story Pirates podcast. Sometimes you’ll talk to me about your day. I prefer it when you don’t watch a show, but since George isn’t around, it’s really the only time you don’t have to choose a show HE wants. So I know that’s important time for you, too.
You have a phone/watch combo, that allows me to reach you in the mornings we both need to leave at the same time. You “check in” with me and send messages from time to time, asking when I will pick you up after school or just to say “I love you.”
We celebrated your birthday with your Aunt Kim and family. We all went to Pittsburgh to Kennywood and you stayed with them a few days, and we just treated you over and over to fun. We had such a good time. You did, too. You had a chocolate chip cookie cake and pizza for dinner.
- This year we all have been camping (in cabins) several times, but you and Dad slept all night in a tent and you loved it.
- This year you got your first “phone/watch/activity tracker” that gives you some freedoms you didn’t have before.
- This year you had your first sleepover party at a friend’s house without us. You stayed at Luca’s for his birthday and you got a flashlight and a pair of pajama pants as a party favor. You fell asleep by 10:30 and woke at 8, so I was told.
- You lost your first tooth this year, and ONLY tooth so far. It’s a bottom front one, and the adult tooth is almost all the way through. You only have 1 other loose tooth now, and most kids in your grade already have adult teeth completely in. Your smile is still the prettiest, in my mind. But that other bottom tooth is so wiggly and gross! You like to wiggle it with your tongue to make me shriek and get the shivers.
- You have started packing your own lunch.
- You have started taking piano lessons, and you’re quite good at recognizing music, already. I’ve broken the news to you “we’re not quitting piano, buddy” about 100 times even though you complain EVERY time your alarm goes off to practice. But I am so proud of all you’ve learned so far, and I like those ten minutes when we sit together and I help you learn. So so proud.
- You’ve decided “Baseball is my sport” and that is just fine with us.
- You’ve started walking to school on your own, without me. You still hold my hand when we walk together, though. And on the first day of 3rd grade- while other kids’ parents were left in the dust on the front sidewalk of RLS School, you clasped my hand tight and told your friend walking in with you, “My mom always walks me to my classroom on the first day.”
- We’ve started watching PG-13 movies together (Spiderman Homecoming and Adventures in Babysitting!) and tell each other firmly “now THAT was inappropriate” during the bad words/dirty parts and laugh.
There are so many other things I should remember that I’m sure I’ve missed. I wish I could write down or bottle up every sweet moment with you, but there are so many that I feel so lucky to swim in your goodness every moment I can.
There are parts of childhood that are slipping away from us though. Your brother has outgrown most of your toddler clothes. They’re leaving our house by the bagful. There are only a few more pairs of your old shoes that are durable enough to pass on to George. And once they’re gone, they’re just gone. We have an umbrella stroller still hanging on a hook in the back mudroom, the one that strolled your little body everywhere from Disneyland, California to Hilton Head, South Carolina. It is one of the last baby things of yours’ that we still own.
It is terribly sad and I do mourn baby-you….but the Big Kid You is so much better than I could have imagined. You make me laugh so hard with some of the things you say. You are so thoughtful. Today you told me that you and Nolan (your best friend ) “are gonna make millions” on this magic trick you’ve learned. You’re going to charge people $.10 per trick and wait for all the money to roll in. I asked what you would do with the money and you said “buy a mansion” and when I reminded you that with Big Money comes Big Responsibility to help others, you said “Oh I know. I don’t want to be like Mr. Scrooge. Or Trump.” I JUST LOVE YOU SO MUCH, KID.
You know, you’re 8 and getting you to take a shower is sort of a pain and you grumble a lot more than you did when you were 6. But I’ll take those eye-rolls and grumbles along with the hand-holding and signed “I love you’s” from the neighbor’s front porch. Because I do know that the latter will eventually go away and be replaced with the eyerolls and the OMG-MOM’s etc.
I’m trying my best to wade through the magna-tiles and Playmobil toys on my rug still at 9:30pm and NOT MESS UP THE TOWER just because the day is done. After all, it TOOK A LONG TIME TO BUILD and you might not get it back just the same way again. I will continue to cuss to myself each time I step on or sweep up a Lego person. I will continue to book tickets to plays and take you on root beer float and ice cream dates for no reason because I have thought to myself lately (more often than ever)— what on earth will I do when he’s gone?
That last part sounds dire, but I find that sometimes it’s easier to process things if I take a “worst-case-scenario approach” to preparedness. And the truth is, someday sooner than I could ever guess, you will be grown and you won’t reach for my hand, and there will be no more Legos, and instead of hearing your feet patter to the bathroom WELL past bedtime, I will be looking at my phone wondering if you’ll remember to call me.
You are such a special boy to me. But more than that, you are meant to be a special person to the world. We’ve been struggling with some people at school who haven’t been very kind. And I told you to keep killing them with kindness because…it is hard to be mean to someone who is being nice in return. And I would never tell you this, but knowing someone hurt your feelings made me want to pop this said kid right in the nose, but instead I did the right thing and told you the same thing my mom told me.
Be kind, be kind, be kind.
I hope that’s the right things to do. Because I’ve also told you recently, “This is the first time I’ve ever been a mom. I hope I’m doing OK.”
I love you so much. It is my life’s work to make sure that you know it.
All my heart,