Wednesday, August 20, 2008

To a Twelve Year Old

My first born. My son. My ARG.

Today you turn twelve. You are becoming a young man now, not a little guy any more.

When you were born I was overcome equally with joy that you had arrived, and relief that the birthing process was over. It was the hardest thing I had ever done and the absence of pain was blissful. Holding your squigly, slippery little body was pure wonder and joy.

I cried when we listened to Tchaikovsky's Pas de Duex from the Nutcracker for the first time when you were two days old. I cried again when I realized that there was no way I could be the perfect mom. Knowing my imperfectness would affect you was a hard thing to swallow. I wanted to be perfect for you. I wanted to world to be perfect for you. Alas.

You have always been precocious. You walked early, signed early, talked early. By a year old you were talking in complete sentences. By two years old you wouldn't shut up. You even read simple words at 2 1/2 years (though why I taught you to read so early I can't say now). My heart squeezes and surges when I remember you saying, "What say?" in your wee little voice whenever you couldn't hear me.

The thing I remember most about your childhood was your passion for reading and cuddling. You would be happy to do both all day long - and I think you still would be. Being steeped in so many books has made you the person you are. From a little guy til now, books have always been a focus in your life. That's a great thing - though it can be taken too far. Preferring books to people is not very helpful in relationships.

Like your mom, you have a keen sense of empathy for others. You literally feel others' feelings. Which can be a plus or a minus. Empathy helps you have a heart for others, but it can also make you want to shy away from emotionally charged situations. That's probably why you have to leave the room during highly suspenseful dramatic movies. I encourage you to hold on to this sense and not squash it. It can really serve you in understanding other people.

For some strange reason, making wierd faces at picture time has always been a favorite for you. Like your uncle K.

Your love of good food (and great quantities of it) became clear at an early age. Sorry I was a vegetarian for the first few years of your life. Maybe some day you will like meat. I know is a pain to be a veggie, especially when you are a guest at someone's house.

You've always been very cautious with your body. That's why it's so surprising that you love fencing so much! Welts and bruises don't get in your way. Cuts and sore muscles can't stop you. I'm so proud of the way you dove into fencing and made it your own. I love that you have found your passion. Plus you are darn good! Sorry that I get so nervous at tournaments. I'm working on it.

You've always had a sardonic sense of humor and tend towards sarcasm (wherever did you get that?) I will carry in my heart the image of you boogie boarding next to me. As the wave surged and roiled and shot us toward the shore you looked at me fumbling on my board, one eye brow raised as if to say, "You thought this would be hard for me?" You make me laugh every day, even when I don't want to. It can be so aggravating to be mad at you, and try to stifle a laugh, and fail. And I'm jealous that you can wiggle your nose AND your ears. No fair!

Since your dad is a techie, you obsession with all things computer began early. I think I was correct when I labelled the computer "issue" as the worst conflict you and I would have. (Hopefully none worse will surface.) My fear is that you would be on the computer all day long, every day if I allowed it. That you would miss out on "real life". So I impose limits, which you don't like and constantly push, and hence the "issue". Wouldn't it be lovely if we could come to some sort of deténte around the computer?

I think it's awesome you are interested in literature and poetry. I really enjoy hearing your thoughts about all things LOTR, and I especially love reading your stories and poems. You and I meet on the intellectual level, and I like that. But beware of intellectual arrogance - it won't serve you or make you friends. Make sure to pay attention to your heart, not just your head. What you feel, and the little voice inside that tells you right from wrong are just as important as your erudite thoughts.

ARG, I tease you a lot because I think you can handle it. I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings some times. Be sure to tell me when I do.

I love your heart, and the ways you show your love. Please don't stop hugging - even when you are way cooler (and taller!) than I am. I love that you play chase with your baby sister and let her hang upside-down on you. It would be great if you could figure out a way to show your love to Rosie, other than poking her all the time. Ya know?

I'm writing this as a gift to you - to let you know how much I love and respect you. Watching and helping you grow has been beautiful and joyful and challenging and at times painful. But I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I love the person you are and the person you are becoming.

Happy Birthday, my son.


Nutmeg said...

That is so sweet! I write to my daughter's on their birthdays too. Maybe I should post them.

12 is a fun age. Enjoy it! Mamas of boys are so lucky ! There is truly something special about that mama-son bond.

mama of three girls :)

Mike said...

That's great. Happy birthday, ARG!

Sue said...

Nutmeg: yeah it's pretty cool to have a son, but quite a challenge.

Mike: Computer all day, ice cream twice, pasta for dinner, movie at night - of course it was Happy!