Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Boy Turns Eight

The Boy is eight today. He looks ten, but he's eight. It's a fun age to watch, since it's still very much part of childhood, but he's starting to show signs of noticing more than his family.

Last night I took him to get a new bike, since he had outgrown his old one. On the way home:

TB: Dad, I think the girls at school all like me and Ian.

DD: Why?

TB: Well, they're always asking us to be princes in their games. And I'm like, “can't you see that I'm fighting Darth Sidious?” It's annoying!

DD: Hmm.

TB: And they're always asking me to double date.

DD: To do what?

TB: You know, dating.

DD: What do you mean?

TB: On the swings. When you're swinging with somebody, and you line up with them so you're going up when they're going up, that's double dating.

DD: Oh. I didn't know they called it that.

TB: Yeah, it's fun. But it's annoying when I'm playing a game and they want to date.

There's an age at which fighting Darth Sidious is serious business.

Cynicism hasn't occurred to him yet. I don't know how much longer that will be true – with half my chromosomes, I'm amazed he's made it this far – but I'll take it. He still gives me enthusiastic hugs when I get home, and means it. He's remarkably mature with his sister, and genuinely considerate of other people. Even when he's annoying – usually, when he has more energy than he knows what to do with – there's no malice to it. He just bubbles over.

He's always been that way. Back in the crib days, he couldn't fall asleep in less than an hour, and someone had to be with him. I spent many hours lying on my back outside his crib, my arm vertical, holding his hand through the slats. Eventually I'd head downstairs – usually starting with a crawl, so he wouldn't notice I'd left – only to be stopped cold by his bellowing “MOMMAY! DADDAY! GOT POOPAYS!”

Luckily for us, he's sometimes able to channel all that energy at a single point for a while. Last Christmas we got him one of those elevendy-godzillion piece Lego kits. He absconded with it to the basement, emerging eight hours later with a fully-realized airport, complete with revolving doors and airline stickers. I couldn't do that now. Since his parents are hopelessly retro, he has an overflowing bookcase in his room, but no tv or computer. Combine 'long attention span,' 'tired parents,' 'lots of books at hand,' and 'strict limits on tv and computer time,' and the kid has developed insane reading habits. He blasts through books faster than we can keep up. At this point, a standard every-other-week library run nets about ten books for him, mostly on tornadoes or UFOs. He also writes his own stories, mostly in the adventure genre. Each new story is a family event, read aloud to all of us.

Underneath all the energy, he's a disarmingly sweet kid. He still thinks his parents are cool, and he's touchingly unguarded in his affections. I know those will change soon enough, and each birthday brings that change closer, but I'm in no hurry. Eight is still safely in kid territory. Mom and Dad are still cool. School is still fun. UFOs are still real. Battles with Darth Sidious still trump swinging with girls.

I'll just hold onto that a little longer. Happy birthday, TB.