My boy got busy turning nine last weekend, which really feels different than his last few to me. I see a real growth change in him - longer in the legs all of a sudden. Nice posture, too. And next year we begin the double-digits (from here on out, I guess!) and I feel his "small boy" years are really behind him, and a quite maturity is steadfastly in front. He looks much like I did at this age, but he's sweet, gentle, and soft-spoken, just like his dad.
Portrait of a cool young man in the making.
He has this unassuming way when he asks for things that I find so endearing. I actually love that it hasn't occurred to him to be demanding about anything. (This is a good thing - and he's not prone to tantrums when he doesn't get his way.) He appreciates that there's a cycle of work involved before getting anything... and so, he is always delighted by treats of any kind. Out of the blue things. Like a Snickers bar produced from my purse... just for having. I love how he still only eats about half at a time, saving some for later. A whole one is too much chocolate at once, right mum?
A few weeks before his birthday, while doing some grocery shopping with me, he tapped me on the arm in the bakery section and said, "Um... just to let you know? I had these at my friend's birthday party, and they were really good. I would like to have some like those on my birthday, too. If we can get them, I mean." He pointed to a clear plastic container of red velvet cupcakes.
So of course I did one better, and made him some...
We had a few of his school friends over to play video games and have pizza and chips and things - very low key, just the way he wanted. He hugged me so hard that night, the night before he turned nine, and thanked me for the little party, and told me how much he loved me, and his earnestness nearly broke my heart into a million pieces... his quiet joy, pleasing him so very much. He is so easy-going sometimes, it's amazing.
He always thanks me for dinner. (Tricks he's learned from his dad.) He tells me when a food was particularly delicious, but if he didn't like something, he's never rude about it. He says, "It was okay... but... I didn't love it." A sweetheart, he is.
I love that he still tells me all his stuff, when it occurs to him - usually it's when I'm doing something else, but I try to stop and give him my undivided attention when he's talking. He doesn't talk if he has nothing to say, so when he does speak, really, I should be listening - the child doesn't natter.
And whenever I hear him speak French with his friends, or when he's memorizing a poem for school, his diction completely knocks me out. I mean, really. I'm very proud of his efforts - and he works so hard. A while back, he casually handed me a certificate he received in class for "exemplary behaviour", and when I praised him, he shrugged and said, "Some kids have horrible manners, mummy. They don't act right at all." Heh.
He flexes his biceps at me when he's changing his clothes, cocks and eyebrow (a new trick) and skips away Gangnam-style with a smile on his face. This boy asks me for dates sometimes, so I willl try my best to never refuse him, goofy as he is.
When I tell him what an incredibly wonderful boy he is, he always looks away, smiling sheepishly and just says, "Thank you."
Me: It's your birthday, Boo... can I take your picture this morning?
He: *agreeably nods once* Yes.
Me: Do you want to change your shirt first? I think you wore that on your birthday last year...
He: No, thanks. *runs hand down his front* This one's my favourite.
Me: Well, alrighty then...
This is nine.
And on his big day, we had family over to visit, and we had yummy appetizers together, and delicious sushi from his favourite place, and I baked that flourless chocolate cake as well, partly so his dad could have some, but also because the kid loves chocolate.
He took his time thinking about what to wish for...
...but I hope it comes true.
But what I really hope is that this good boy stays lovely and charming, kind-hearted and generous, agreeable, and uncomplicated, and unspoiled. And brave. Just as he is.
Oh, this boy.
This darling, beautiful boy.
Enjoy being nine, my sweet Oliver Chase!
Nobody loves you like I do.