I look at this boy who looks all arms and legs playing in the backyard and it takes me a minute to realize it's you.
How did we get here?
Are you not the 7 pounds, 9 ounces of beautifully formed flesh they placed on my chest, both of us crying as we looked at each other for the first time? Are you not the whitish-blond boy with blue eyes staring so deep into the eyes of those around you that they felt you were peering into their souls? Are you not the small child climbing onto my lap for kisses and hugs and snuggles after waking up from afternoon naps?
How can this small man-child be the same infant, toddler, preschooler? How did you grow so fast?
And I don't know what to do!
You turn 9 this summer and I feel like that is on the verge of something big and I don't know how to let you go. I've never had to raise a boy - or any child - before you. I ask your dad, "How much more responsibility do we give him? What responsibility do we give him? How far can he ride his bike without us? What kind of things is he capable of doing that we hold him back from because we don't know...we just don't know what we're doing?"
Forgive me, Noah. I'm clueless.
I wake up every morning feeling blind to what to expect. I expected the moodiness from Eleanor, from girls. I didn't expect it from growing boys. I never foresaw eye rolling, word snapping, silence of thoughts and self-doubt from boys.
I blame myself often. Maybe I protect you too much. Maybe I need to back off more. Maybe I did this wrong or failed to do this right and I don't want to fail you!...I don't want to fail.
I'm sorry if I've pushed you. I think sometimes I see strengths in you that you don't recognize and maybe I need to just shut up and sit down and really listen to what you want and don't want to do. You're good at soccer, but if you don't want to do it...I won't mention it anymore. I'm good at math and with numbers, but I sure don't like working with them. After 4 years, you want a summer off of swim lessons? Deal. You want to try karate? Big breath in...ok. If that's something you really want to try then I want you to be able to try it. What do I know about karate? Maybe you're a black belt in the making!
I want to help water your strengths. Those abilities and gifts that God has put in your heart and that make you who you are, I want to help you grow in those. When you ask me if a master Lego designer has to go to college first? I don't know, but I'll help you find out. I see what a gift your mind has when you're working with those little blocks and if you want to create Lego masterpieces with your cousin, Cameron, and have a Lego store and share your love of them with other people, then who am I to hold you back?
I wish I could give you acres of trees to climb and land to run on. There are few things that make my heart soar then when I see you up in a tree and even more so when there is a book in your hand and I know your mind is worlds away. We may not travel much outside of visiting family, but you visit so many worlds with those books. It brings me so much joy.
I know we butt heads often lately, Noah. I know that I drive you crazy and you do the same to me. Maybe it's similar personalities. It's probably just that I don't know what I'm doing and you need a little more freedom but I'm still trying to fence you in. I'm trying, Noah. I am. This is new territory for both of us.
You know what keeps me sane, though, even when I am ready to tear out my hair? It's the little moments. The moments where I know that you're still my son and you do still love me. I don't want to raise a mama's boy. I want you to one day leave our house and marry a wonderful young woman and form a life with her. But for now?
Those moments when I'm on the couch reading, maybe "The Hobbit" aloud to all of you, or maybe just a book to myself, and you sit next to me...slowly creeping closer...ever so timidly resting your head against my shoulder to see if it's still ok.
It is still ok.
I love you, Mr. 8-year old.