This one’s for Sara (h?) whose encouragement and kind words gave me the nudge I needed to take up keyboard and try to write more often.  Thank you.
He did it last week amidst much fanfare and little styrofoam bullets.  Did it with Nerf and bandanas and ridiculously large Lego sets he insisted on putting together all by himself.  This brown-eye guy who continually teaches me how little I know about parenting and how much I have to learn about grace turned 10.
When prompted about how to best celebrate him a scant few days after moving out of the only home he’s ever known, this boy who, frankly, hates change, responded with this: it has to have friends and cousins and I want it at the house, not the condo and can we have gluten free chocolate cake?  And pizza from Vitales?
Oh yes, son.  All that and more.  And so we opened the doors and welcomed in ten boys (one for every year) and we showed them the hand written poster on which the boys divided them into two teams: bright green bandanas and dark green bandanas.  Then we handed each team a flag and sent them outside to try to capture it.  And I grabbed my old friend, my SLR, who, since Instagram, has been sadly neglected, and followed them out.  Can there be anything cooler than kids figuring out rules about fairness and boundaries while parents watch from afar, but don’t jump in to solve unless needed?  I’m working hard to bite my tongue, swallow the desire to dictate it all and just observe.  It’s pretty cool what unfolds when parents back off and let their kids do their thing unimpeded.

 Even Tessie gave up the chance to play with her beloved Ava so she could join in the fray.  And when the sun went down we moved inside, wind chapped fingers cradling steaming cups of hot cocoa.  Nerf guns were pulled out of bags spilling over with extra gloves and socks.  Positions were assigned and taken.  Guns were filled from the ammo bucked I’d provided so we didn’t have to spend our evening trying to figure out who brought which bullets and how many.  And the girls were armed with the new Nerf Rebelle, which fires a wicked fast shot that had the boys running.  Thank you Nerf and Lego for marrying what my girl Smalls and my boy Smalls are into so well.
There was an intermission for pizza and presents.  Another for cupcakes.  And all too soon it was over and kids were headed home.  It was the first birthday party I’ve thrown that left me wishing I’d scheduled more time.  They could have stayed for hours more, throwing the lights and going at it in a dark, empty house.  Especially these three who built a shelter out of screens and the kitchen island and dominated.

And so, there is ten.  This boy who screamed the whole-face cry for the first year and a half of his life.  Now perhaps one of my most introverted and quiet kids.  He is my picky eater.  Will believe anything once, but will be hard to un-convince.  Was told hotdogs were made of pig weiners and bums in 2nd grade and hasn’t touched one since.  Used to have a list of five (5!) things on the fridge that he’d eat and only that.  Would go the rest of his year without underwear, if only for the jeans on Sunday.  No underwear + zippers = not worth the risk.  He loves animals in general and reptiles in particular.  His love language is quality time and he doesn’t get enough of it, as far as I’m concerned, but we are trying. He asks me to lay with him, every single night.  I do, every single night.  He is creative and compassionate.  He has a heart for orphans and the forgotten, will be the first to engage a younger.  He is kind and funny and has the meltiest, yummiest brown eyes I’ve seen.  And even though I asked him not to turn another year, not to get farther away from this stage right now, he did and I’m so glad I got to be there.
This is me being real.  Thankful for this boy who blesses me deep.

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