i thought it’d be different somehow, that the sound of the house would change to accommodate a newly minted teenager. that the air would be coolly aloof, jaded, mildly impatient and amused with the outdated antics of the old ‘rents.
but i stumble warm from sleep this morning, half-blind without glasses, to wish my b a happy birthday and a happy day at school and in response he peanut-butters his bread a little faster, mumbles thank-you, embarrassed. doesn’t turn around.
he’s not one to be chipper in the mornings and this was exactly the same response as a year ago, and i think huh. perhaps i will like thirteen.
there was a time when he was little and i was draping clothes back on hangers and he was just out of reach for a second. and he spotted the Forbidden Staircase and freedom and it tasted like glee, so he sprinted those stubby legs straight off the top stair, lungs in full-giggle.
i lunged for him, grabbed air, felt my heart freeze solid as he pitched head over heels like a tumbleweed down that steep slope and hit the door at the bottom with a sickening crack.
we rushed him down the street to the doctor, our New Parents of One Child colors flapping in our wake, and she looked him over and pronounced him fine and said that most children take a plunge or two down the stairs at some point.
he was dimpled up and happy-babbling by then, smitten with the moon of her stethoscope. of course.
b is, by all accounts, our easiest child. if anything, my fear for him is that he’s too compliant, lacks the maddening brash confidence and swagger of your average seventh grader. still, i remember the liberating feel of thirteen, and i wonder if there will come a day when the freedom on the opposite side of our values tastes like glee, and i will watch him dive and crumple just out of reach.
and maybe that’s it, right there. to stay within reach. not so much so that i can keep a rein on him but so he can stretch out a tentative hand every now and again, maybe needing us a little, and find that we move where he moves to stay within his reach.
b, my sweet, beautiful child. i hope you grow in depth and strength of character, in full-flung love for your God. i want the world to be kind to you, but i hope that you are tender and compassionate even when it is not. i hope you gauge your value by Christ's sacrifice for your life, that you draw your joy from His lavish and utterly ridiculous love.
i am brought to my knees with the gift of being your mom. have a good year. make this a good year.
more imperfect prose at emily's