Saturday, August 30, 2008

Now and then I try to spend time alone with each of my boys, just the two of us. I got the opportunity last night to do this with Alex, my youngest.

When I became pregnant with Alex, things in my marriage were already rather rocky. We were living in Hawaii and I was isolated from my family. Finding out I was expecting was a surprise given that I was on the Pill, and I didn't exactly welcome the news with a smile. In fact, I was quite shocked, and fell into a deep depression. I was pretty sure I wanted to be done having kids, but there we were, pregnant with baby 3. I wish I had known then what an intense blessing this little guy was going to be to my life.

From the moment he was born, Alex was MY kid. They placed him in my arms and he looked up at me with blue eyes and dimples showing and I was a goner. All three of my boys were pretty attached to Mommy but Alex took that attachment to a whole new level. It was not that he cried when I wasn't around. More that he just wanted nothing to do with anyone else if I was, not in a clinging or whining way, but more in a sense of just being aloof and borderline rude to anyone who tried to interact with him. Once, when I had been embarassed for the umpteenth time by his cold and blank reaction to someone, I asked him why he was like that, when he was about three. His answer was succinct and matter-of-fact. He shrugged and stated "I just only want YOU Mommy". Well. How does one argue with that? My heart melted in a way it probably should not have. I am a self admitted sucker for this boy. He has a very wry, dry sense of humor, carries off one-liners really well for a 10-year-old and enjoys irony and gentle teasing. He has a dominant personality, but masters it with so much charm and directness that I find myself doing things for him that I probably would have refused for his brothers. Maybe it is because he is my youngest. But there are times I love that little man so much it feels like my heart will burst in my chest.

It doesn't help that feeling, to ponder the knowledge that he has survived a brain tumor, that he has a fantastic memory and can recall details from that time in his life (he was barely turned 5) with startling alacrity. That he has a soft spot for tiny animals and flowers just seems to balance him out perfectly. He's a bit of a mutant, in that he is a straight A student (I don't think he has ever earned less than an A on a report card yet), makes his bed without prompting every single day and has for years, sets his own alarm at night, turns it off every morning, takes a degree of personal responsibility for getting his medications and injections each day and openly tries to eat healthy most of the time. This kid cannot possibly be of my or Stewart's genes. Neither of us is that conscientious, at least not as consistently as Alex is. He cleaned out his own dresser the other day and lined up all his socks like soldiers, rearranged so that all the drawers were in proper and tidy order, then had me close my eyes and took me by the hand into his room to show me. The following weekend he did it with his entire room. He takes pleasure in helping around the house, particularly if it is something we do together. He makes life easy and pleasant. Over the course of his years, I have wished so many times, as he reaches each age and I discover more of him, that he would just stay. Stay right there. Don't move. Don't change.

Last night he was a chatter box, obviously thrilled to get time alone with me. He has HUGE hands, and he kept reaching out to hold mine as we walked through the parking lot or shopped in the store. I took him to Target and did something I rarely do...let him pick out a toy for no reason other than the pleasure of buying him one. Then I let him pick where we ate dinner at...he chose Souper Salad! The whole time he was talking and talking...its fun to let them ramble on, to see what they reveal and share. At one point he got a wry grin on his face and actually asked me if he was talking too much. I smiled and shook my head mutely, choking on the sweetness of the moment. No baby. No. You aren't talking too much. I took mental pictures of him and wished, once more, that he would be 10 forever. I know he won't. I can see the man he will be unfolding before my eyes. That wish didn't work when he was two and filled my arms solidly, completely and frequently. It didn't work when he was four and full of impish mischief. It didn't work when he was six and recovering from his surgery, taking life by the horns. And it won't work now. This I know. But how I wish it would. This is his last year in grade school. Next year he enters sixth grade and middle school. I have to consciously remind myself that yes, he will grow and change still and yet again...but he is here now. I should be here now too, not looking forward with bittersweet anticipation of the day my nest is empty and my boys have turned to men.

It was a good evening.

Tonight will be good too. I am having my closest girlfriends over for a slumber party while Joe is in Ohio. Time to get the house clean. I hope everyone has a great holiday weekend.

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