Be My Baby

Come this time each year, I find myself sounding a lot like my mother.  On an annual basis, she’d inform my siblings and me that she “just didn’t know if she’d be able to let us go on to _____ grade next year.”  She said it each and every year, even after our insistence on progressing steadily through school despite her objections had long since become a running joke in the family.

We couldn’t grasp why she expressed such hesitancy when the idea of moving onward and upward thrilled us. But now, I completely understand.  I couldn’t have imagined when DD1 entered the world how quickly I’d find myself contemplating her eminent exit for college.  Worse, my youngest–the boy who will always be my baby–inconveniently celebrates a birthday in May, adding to the generalized anxiety I feel about yet another school year coming to an end.

Yes, Soccer Boy turned eleven today.  He’s nearing the end of 5th-grade, and it’s been a year of rapid development, both mentally and physically.  On the physical side, he just proudly informed me he now weighs 88.6 lbs. according to the bathroom scale.  He’s anxious to grow taller as well, but still stands a little under five feet tall for now, seemingly teetering on the edge of puberty.  Athletically, he took big strides this year, perfecting his soccer goalie punt and finishing a half marathon a couple of weeks ago, just in time to register as a ten-year-old rather than an eleven-year-old and win his age group. He’s come a long way from the four-year-old who put in his time at occupational therapy sessions and lagged behind most of his peers in physical accomplishments.

I’ll admit I also had trepidation regarding his move to 5th grade this year.  In our district, 5th and 6th grades, while still considered “elementary” school, are in a separate intermediate school building.  There’s a jump in academic expectations, especially in the realm of independent work and project-based learning.  I worried that Soccer Boy might struggle with accountability and attention to detail, issues we’d seen a bit of in past years.  Both DD1 and DD2 experienced some growing pains as they mastered the new expectations of 5th grade, so I prepared myself for a rocky transition.

And then, of course, Soccer Boy proceeded to glide right on through the year.  Other than a few minor blips, particularly with that attention to detail thing, he’s had no trouble at all adjusting, and, if anything, came into his own during the course of the year.  He managed to learn all his lines for a recent school activity without assistance and progressed to needing only cursory help with his writing projects. 

Socially, Soccer Boy’s recent interest in more fashionable dressing seems to have coincided with an increased interest in the opposite sex.  He even showers semi-regularly without prompting!  Evidently he has his eye on a young lady, though he won’t share her identity.  Most of his time not devoted to school or soccer is spent roaming around the neighborhood with several of his friends, two of whom live right across the street.  They ride bikes and scooters, shoot baskets, and built forts in the woods, defying the stereotype of the modern child glued to a video game system.  Not that he doesn’t work that in as well once night falls and forces him inside.  He and Adventure Guy share a love for our recently purchased PS3 system and spend quality time blowing things up together.

 At around 9:20 this morning, I happened to glance at my watch during the professional development session I facilitated today.  Immediately I flashed back to that same time eleven years ago when Soccer Boy entered the world.  I’m sure I’ll do the same every May 6.  And the reality is, even though it’s been a long time now since he was truly a baby, even though he’s becoming a young man faster than I could have imagined he would, Soccer Boy will always be my baby and hold that special spot in my heart.

Happy birthday, my boy!

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