Happy Ninth Birthday Saint James

santiI stare at a blank screen. And then I let some days pass by, hoping for inspiration. Because what is there to say? You are nine. You are beautiful. You are boy. You are easy to me. And maybe that’s hard to write about. You are my perfect companion: smart, affable, introspective, handsome, funny, sweet, perceptive, passionate. You still snuggle. You still fold your long bony limbs up to climb into my lap – I put my arms around you and squeeze, like a giant gathering sticks into a bundle. You love your friends. You think nothing of holding hands, of throwing your arm around a buddy’s shoulder as you walk off in rapt conversation. You watch the satellite radio like a hawk, yelling change it, don’t change it from the back of the minivan. Music matters to you. A lot. You read like wind, plowing through books like you’re famished. Sometimes you are moody, sullen, secretive. Already? You still love stuffed animals, but you are over Pokemon cards. You still want to be a naturalist when you grow up. You are a handsome devil, but you have no clue. Your room is a mess. You spread everything out on the floor. Your voice is soft and your words are few, so when you talk, I want to listen. Your stories are silly and merry and sometimes I find myself just watching your face, letting that boy voice wash over me.

Your uncles think you’re a mama’s boy. And you are. In the best way. You love your mama. Sometimes you smother my arm in a million kisses when I’m walking by. You cling to me like a baby chimp. But I notice our paths gently diverging as of late. More and more, you are forming a boy-alliance with your dad. You talk about sports, about FIFA, about Barcelona and Messi. You miss him when he’s working late. You ask about him. You try to wait up for him. You kick a soccer ball in the yard with him and I wonder, watching through the kitchen window, look how happy they arewhat are they talking about? Boy stuff, I suppose. Guy stuff. And my heart feels squishy because I can see your trajectory: it is clear and it is good, but it leads away from me. You are a smaller, looser, clumsier, version of your dad – a puppet, a Pinocchio – and you watch and mimic, absorb mannerisms and gestures without even knowing it. Your future is written on your shoulders and in the cool blue of your eyes. 

You are nine, Saint James. You are still a little boy, still a mama’s boy. But not for long, sweetness, not for long.

Happy Birthday. I love you.

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