For the last few months, when Kyle writes his age in a registration form or similar, he has been entering “9 & 7/8.”
Every little bit counts. He is thrilled to be turning 10 today, but I held on to that last eighth of a year for dear life.
More than turning 40, more than this blog turning 10, Kyle’s 10th birthday has had me in shock, in tears, in reverie. I’m absolutely gobsmacked that this is here, now.
To mothers of older children: you’ve said it to me countless times: It goes by so fast, you’ll look back on this one day and miss it, etc.
To mothers of younger children: they were right.
Having grown to be 10 years old along with this blog, his stories told on the internet, his name never protected from the cloud, Kyle is happy when I share his life here. Sometimes he asks me to put stories on the blog, or Facebook, or pictures on Instagram. A few months ago he even started designing his own website (not published for public viewing) and he often asks me if he can have his own YouTube channel.
I’m not ready – for the emotions of a 10 year old, for him to discover the bad parts of the internet, or the world for that matter. I know I have to relax more and more as he gets older. But don’t forget, 10 is still a little boy. It’s easy to overlook that since Kyle is so big – at first glance you’d think he is 12 or 13, and there is a big difference in those ages. But he still feels confused and slighted like a little boy sometimes, even as he must navigate life in the outside world like a big one.
The days of me protecting him from everything, from holding his hand and exploring the world with him side-by-side, are numbered. I’m feeling it. I want it to be 9 and eight ninths, and nine tenths, and so on.
On the other hand, Kyle is smart and sensitive, and has a lot of common sense for a 10 year old boy. A few weeks ago, delayed on his bike ride home from school to help a friend with a flat bike tire, he flagged down some other moms and asked them to call me to tell me he was running late. He didn’t want me to worry (which I would have, even as I let him ride his bike alone).
Kyle’s precocious brain has blossomed at school and at home, and sometimes it still shocks me, the complexity of what he uses his brain to create. He emailed me an “I love you mom” message from Louisiana while vacationing there with Brady and Stew. It was written in computer code. I understood enough to know that it said “I love you,” but that’s where my knowledge ends. I can’t help him with his math homework anymore, because his work has surpassed my skill. He has a gift with words and can write very mature passages of poetry, fiction, and school work. (I’ll take the credit for that gene blossoming in him, thank you.)
But as a 10 year old boy, Kyle can be moody, reluctant, and unhelpful. Sometimes I miss the enthusiasm with which he approached the world as a toddler and little boy, how he wanted to show me everything, and run everywhere. Getting used to his personality at these different stages continues to be a challenge for me. Once I am familiar with him, he changes again.
That’s parenting, isn’t it? We are meant to work ourselves out of our jobs. The whole idea is that someday he won’t need me anymore, not like this, and not like he used to.
I’ve been planning his birthday party with great care the last few weeks, because I know he values the occasion as the one time during the year that he is made to feel extra special. Ten is a big number. Ten seemed impossible 10 years ago. I want to mark the occasion with the importance – in both of our lives – that it deserves.
May the next ten years be as painless as possible, for both of us. Happy birthday, big boy. You’ll always be my little one, in my heart.