“How old is your kid?” I’d ask.
“That must be fun,” I’d smile.
“Oh! It IS!” she’d beam.
I’d pretend to believe her but secretly felt sorry for the fact that she no longer had a toothless baby or a waddling, gapped-tooth toddler like mine.
It was hard to imagine that eight-years-old was as beautiful as one, two, and three was.
On Gapped-Tooth Grins, Poop Jokes, and Having an Eight-Year-Old
Being the mom to a baby or toddler feels magical and important, even as there are days when it’s 11:00 am and you call your husband or your mom because “We’ve been to the playground twice, had breakfast, a nap, and what the hell am I supposed to do for the next eight hours??!!?”
Once they’re sleeping though, you sort through the week’s photos and melt 1,001 times at his silly little wordless-grin.
At his Peek-a-Boo giggles.
This year, summertime is halfway over, and suddenly, I’m the mom to a freshly minted, just-turned eight not-so-little little boy.
And you know what? It doesn’t suck. It’s still magical.
Sure, it’s different and there are (and always will be) days when I wonder what to do for the next eight hours at 11:00 am, but eight is pretty awesome.
When he wakes up too early, I can tell him to get his iPad or a book and he’ll lie in bed with me while I sleep a little.
Better yet, it turns out eight-year-olds still like to snuggle when it’s too early in the morning and they’ve been woken by a dream, and a stuffed Sans or a stuffed Ghast isn’t enough.
Eight is being thrilled to get a stuffed Sans for his birthday.
He’s not too old to love a stuffed Ghast.
Give him a personality.
Eight means that moms are still the holders of magical kisses and the best laughers at made-up poop jokes.
And he’s got the poop jokes. Finds poop emojis in curly fries, although I see his point.
Eight years old is a balance between neediness and independence, and watching the ebb and flow from one to the other is fascinating.
A gift in humanity, growth, and light.
That he cries and defies freely, to see.
That the smile I cherish but will never capture on film is reserved for moments of remembering that we are of one another, and always begin with our stories woven tightly.
Eight years old is saying he wants to stay with you rather than go to camp today even as you protest “But Buddy, your friends are at camp! Surely, you’ll have more fun there than at home with me? I have to really-for-real-really work today, even though I’m not going to the office. Are you SURE you don’t want to go to camp?”
“I can do Legos and Legends of Zelda, Mom. Please?”
“Ok,” you say, feeling the guilt of working while he’s there already.
Eight years old is him, playing with Legos, and playing Legends of Zelda, alone.
Eight years old is also him, looking up in the late afternoon and saying “Excuse me?”
It’s you, annoyed at the interruption, until you see his crumpled face.
“Aw, Buddy, what is it?”
“I don’t know,” he says. He’s trying not to cry. You don’t want an eight-year-old who thinks he’s too old to cry and so you lead him to the couch.
“What is it?” you repeat.
He leans into you, and says he’s too tired and sad to say.
Eight years old is you holding him. It’s him letting you. Melting into you.
It’s saying you’re so sorry for working. That you know it’s been a long time. It’s him agreeing. It’s you asking what you can do to bring back Happy.
And the two of you bring Happy as you sit on the floor in the mid-summer sunshine, and play Jenga.
Happy (and eight years old) is trying and failing to capture a photo of his laughter when he realizes he’s better at Jenga than you are.
“Hey, Mom,” he says.
You look up, at this not-so-little little boy, and wait.
“Want to hear a joke?”
“Always,” you reply.
It was a butt joke, and another poop joke, and you were not disappointed.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “Summertime is halfway over, and I…”
We celebrated Tucker’s birthday at a waterpark. More to come on that (it’s funny how we plan to write one thing and then write another, instead) but here’s a snippet of the waterslide fun from his eighth birthday trip: