Evan. My six year old Big Boy.
My, how he's changed.
Still has great hair. Now, with a bit more 'tude.
So there we are, at the hotel splash park and pool, the day before Sea World. We are all giddy with vacation excitement and he is Having Fun. And then he starts running toward the staircase. It's a large staircase....
...and the only way back down once you reach the top is a waterslide. A large waterslide. And I freak out. "Go with him!" I yell to Sam, who is still ducking Max's firehose aim. "THOSE ARE WATERSLIDES!" Sam is watching, but not following, our off-on-his-way Big Boy. Our big boy who is about to reach the top of a huge, open staircase, take one look at his exit option, and Flip Out.
"SERIOUSLY! Does he even know what THAT IS?!" I'm about to cause a scene because Sam is Still Not Following Evan. "Just give him a minute," Sam says. "He's fine. He can handle this."
"But what if he can't?! What if he gets scared? He's never been on a waterslide before!! GO! GO HELP HIM!" I'm frantic.
Sam follows him. Finally. And, sure enough, Evan is stuck at the top of the platform, calling down to his Daddy.
Sam turns back to me. "He says he'll be on the blue one!" he calls to me, with a huge I-told-you-so smile on his face.
I'm stunned. But I do as I'm told. And I wait. My heart pounding out of my chest.
And here he comes:
Slipping, sliding, flipping, splashing....and beaming.
He hops out of the chute and I think his smile is about to turn him inside out. I'm speechless. And I want to cry. Instead I give that big boy a huge hug. I lean back and look at him.....like reeeeally look at him. And my heart feels like it's going to bust right out of my chest. "Look what you just did!" I say to him, pointing ALL the way up to the top of the slide. "You just did THAT!" He's cheeks have to hurt from the strain of maintaining the Biggest Smile Ever. "I know!" he starts, "I got to the top and at first I was nervous, but then I just told myself 'I can do this.' So I just did it! And it was awesome. I'm goin' again!" And off he ran. Well, off he speed-walked, because, you know....no running on the pool deck.
What's happened here?
What happened to my hiding-behind-my-leg little Watcher? What happened to my think-first, act-later (or never) little Mr. Cautious? What happened to my shut-down in new circumstances little Worrier?
I'll tell you what happened.
He went to Kindergarten.
And there, with the independence required of Big Kids in the Big School, and under the loving guidance of a Master Teacher (thank goodness for Mrs. C), he discovered the wings he had always had, but had kept tucked up close behind him.
And I don't think this Mama Bird could be any prouder to watch her little baby take his first solo flights away from the nest.
That's not to say he won't return to the nest for time-and-again reassurances. We're still navigating our way through the course of Riding The Bus to School and haven't quite reached the Drop-Off Play Date level of independence, but we'll get there. When we're both ready.
And my boys sat together, reading and being read to, for about four whole minutes, until the inevitable tackle contest began. These boys are the dictionary definition of Brothers. They love one another. They share games and secrets and jokes and dances that are, according to them when Sam or I try to join in, "Brother Things." Most "Brother Things," we're learning, involve Potty Humor, which they've figured out will earn disapproving furrowed brows when shared outside of the Brother Circle. Whatever brings them together!
And it's not just a Brother Thing when it comes to Evan being The World's Best Big Brother. He and Molly have a bond. A special bond. A Biggest Brother and Little Sister Bond. No one makes her laugh the way he does. She saves her best open-mouth kisses for him. And my usually texture/moisture-averse boy doesn't even mind the baby slobber when it comes from his Mollster.
He still wants extra snuggles at bedtime.
He still sleeps with his best stuffed buddies.
He still needs one last you-can-do-it shoulder squeeze before he climbs aboard the school bus.
He still wants us to help him brush his teeth.
He still kisses me in front of his friends.
He still asks us to stay with him when he's playing at a friend's house.
He still eats his fruit cut up into little bites, but prefers his grapes whole because he "can handle that."
He still wants to be read to.
He still watches "little kid" shows and movies and says movies like "Brave" and "Wreck-It Ralph" sound "too grown up" for him to watch.
He still dances without self-consciousness.
He still lets me hold his hand.
But he's becoming aware of the larger world. He's asking questions that prompt Sam and I to glance at one another before answering...questions about birth, and death, and God, and love. Big questions that Sam and I want to answer open and honestly, but that we kind of can't believe he's big enough to be wondering about. The other day he said, "Mommy, tell me about when you met Daddy and you decided to marry him. How did you know that?" Whoa, buddy.
Evan. You were the First best thing that Daddy and I ever did. You challenge us in ways that feel, at times, impossible to handle. You are the best teacher of patience that I have ever had. We are sometimes at a complete and total loss as to what to do with or say to you. But for every one difficult, heart-wrenching moment of parenthood we muscle through, you give us 100 reasons to make us smile and our hearts to swell with pride and love. You have taught me more about Being Yourself than any After School Special ever could with your inherent self-confidence and, yes, stubbornness. You won't be swayed to be who you aren't or do what you won't. Not ever. And I love that about you. It sometimes drives me nuts, but I love it. Your fascination with animals, nature, spies, and lately, ninjas is truly inspiring to watch. When your interest is sparked, the flame isn't easily extinguished...not until you've read everything, asked every question, and seen every Google Image on the subject. I love how deeply you become immersed in a subject. I can't wait to see what captures your attention as you grow older.
You are a friend. You are a student. You are a brother. You are a pretender. You are an asker and a knower. You are an explorer. You are a wonderer, a thinker. And try as you might to deny it, you will always, always, be my little boy.
And I love you. Lots and forever.
Happy birthday, six year old boy!