"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Evan Eleven

Since he opened his very first set of little green army men when he was five, Evan has held firmly to the belief that, when he grows up, he'll be in the military. He doesn't particularly like it when people in a position of authority tell him what to do or where to be or what to wear so I'm not really sure how military life would actually play out....but still, he insists. And so, until a few weeks ago, we supported his dream.

Then I learned that his Crohn's diagnosis is an automatic disqualification from service. 

He doesn't know yet...I'm a little worried it'll crush him...

...and this kid has already been through enough this year.

A year ago we didn't know. A year ago at this time we were knee-deep in Figuring It Out. Medical tests and invasive procedures, blood draws, hours in doctors' offices...it wasn't fun. It was worth it. We have an answer now...an answer to the slow growth and the anemia...maybe even an answer to some of the food intolerances. It's not the answer I was hoping for...especially in this precarious time for a public health insurance option...but it is what it is and we'll deal. 

So, we're not going to tell him that this disease that he'll have to live with for the rest of his life may also crush the biggest dream of his life. Not any time soon, anyway. Instead, when he states his future plans, we casually offer an alternative. Dreams can change, right?

Evan is a walking/talking encyclopedia when it comes to military and war-time history. In fact, his teacher shared with me that at a recent field trip to a history museum with his class, he impressed the docent, a visiting professor from a local university with his flawless history fact recall. Maybe he'll become a history professor.

Maybe he'll become a police officer...in Washington, D.C. like his Uncle Jack, where, as Evan says, "the action is." 

Maybe he'll rise through the ranks and become a detective. He was a pretty good mystery-decoder during our Escape Room adventure...

Maybe he'll play video games for a living. He's heard plenty of stories from his friends (all true, I'm sure) about 20-somethings earning millions of dollars a year to sit around and play Fortnite. 

Maybe he'll be a stay-at-home dad. He IS the resident Baby Whisperer, after all.

Maybe he'll be an entrepreneur...or pursue a career that hasn't been discovered yet...

He's got plenty of time to figure it out. He's still so young.... He still wants me to tickle his back when I tuck him in. He still climbs into our bed in the middle of the night on occasion. He still needs to be reminded to brush his teeth and eat vegetables. But he's creeping ever closer to independence and, every once in awhile, it catches my breath.

I attended a Middle School Transition meeting earlier this year for parents of rising 6th graders. As I sat in the middle school cafeteria and listened to the presentation by the Principal, I could suddenly picture Evan there...in middle school. I pictured him entering the busy, noisy cafeteria on the first day of school. Without the comfort of walking in a line of classmates, led by a teacher to an assigned table.....what will he do? How will he navigate lunch time? Will he find friends to sit with? Will he know what to do?

I almost started to cry, right there during the meeting, because Middle School?! Already?! I can't believe we're HERE. I do believe, though, that what I've heard from everyone I've talked to is true...that he'll be fine. Evan will, like every other sixth grader who came before him, figure it out. It's part of the process. Part of HIS process. It's time for me to stand back and let him lead the way.

It's hard, though...when you're a controlling, Type-A personality like me. 

Evan, you put us through hell with your stubbornness, your BIG emotions, and your need to have things your way or no way at all. (I wonder where he gets it?)

We wouldn't want you any other way.

With all of the hard stuff comes the Very Best of the best. You are determined and strong-willed. You are thoughtful and deliberate. You are reliable and trustworthy. You are bright and funny as hell.

You are INTERESTING. We never know what random fact or story or tidbit of information you'll deliver but I know I'll learn something new from you every single day. I'll also lose a minute or two of my life each day. You're in the habit now of scaring me...like, hide-in-the-shadows-jump-out-and-BOO! kind of scare...and you're Good. Too good. Scary Good. I've been know to curse and call you inappropriate names ("You turd!") as a result of your more successful scares. It's, maybe, your most favorite pastime of late....

You are sometimes impulsive...

But slow, gentle, and tender, too...

As the first-born child in our family, you have allowed me (forced me?) to practice Parenthood in a way that your brother and sister won't need to. Most of the Firsts that we encounter as parents, we encounter with you. We're figuring out how to negotiate curfews and screen time and burgeoning independence just as you figure out to want them. We don't have a playbook yet, and that makes you a bit of a guinea pig. I know that's not easy. As first time parents of an 11-year old, we make mistakes and we learn hard lessons and, sometimes, you get caught in the crossfire of us figuring things out as we go. 

But, I promise you, we'll figure it out...together. Thank you for being the one to help us learn how to do this Parenting gig, Evan...you're a damn fine, teacher.

Who needs the military?

Lesson Learned:
Watching this kid grow up has been one of the greatest joys of my life. I don't need to miss the baby days when this kid, and parenting this kid, just keeps getting better. Happy 11th birthday my love.