I have an eleven-year old child. He has the advantage and disadvantage of being the oldest, which means that at every age he is taking me through another page of motherhood. I have been blessed with a most gentle journey, with a most gentle soul, so with him as my guide, I’ve been able to say honestly at every age, “THIS. This is the best age ever”. I’ll admit that with the younger ones, I sometimes look forward to the passage of particular stages. Like Three. Three is hard. But when he was three, I didn’t know how much easier four would be, and I was so astonished by his emerging language, preferences, and desires that the obstinacy of the three year old was less prominent. I will try to remember this magic with my new three-year-old.
Now he is eleven, and I can see that he is on the cusp of the teenage years. I don’t know what comes next, but this age is perfect, just like all the others were. He comes up to my chin, so when he sits in my lap he goes all the way down to the floor. He’s had three growth spurts since February, and his next pair of shoes is going to have to come from the men’s department. In all likelihood, he has already spent more than half the time he ever will spend living with me in my house. He is not my baby any more, but he is still my child.
Somewhere in the last couple of years the nightly bedtime story ritual became disrupted when we both realized that a) he reads faster to himself than we can do it aloud, and b) the books he is reading are too scary or too gross for Mom. He is particularly entranced by Percy Jackson and Artemis Fowl, and is on the second (or third) pass through both series. His usual reading involves trips to the underworld, monsters, and swords. But a couple of nights ago I was reading a book of stories to the younger pair, one tucked under each arm, and he came around the corner. “Oooh!” he said. “Can you read the one with Too Many Mice???” So he settled in with me, all my babies in a big pile, and we read about Too Many Mice. And he chortled, and snuggled, and kissed us all goodnight. And then he went to read some more stories about kids battling monsters to keep themselves alive, dancing back and forth between staying children and growing up. And it’s all just right.