Friday, October 24, 2014

The Magnificent Seven

Seven years ago today, I became a mama.

On one hand, it's hard to believe Zeke is 7 years old.  I keep telling him to stop growing, but he laughs and ignores me.

On the other, I have a difficult time remembering what life was like before I had children, other than I had a lot more time and money to waste, and could plan a trip that didn't involve spending at least $1200 on airfare.

In any event, I now have this seven-year-old boy.
He is this astounding social butterfly who knows everyone and everyone knows him and he feels entirely comfortable with the notion that of course everyone is going to like him and want to play with him.  Why on earth wouldn't they?  He walks into school, greeting and waving at everyone he sees.

"Hi, Patrick!  Hey, Mr. Jones!  Good morning, Miss Becky!  Hi, Mrs. Snow!"  They all smile and wave and greet him in return.

There's a little girl named Beth* that he luuuuuurved when he was in kindergarten.  They had a thing. She told her mom that Zeke was "her love," and he pestered me non-stop about setting up play-dates with her.

Her family moved to Frisco (up in the mountains, about an hour away) at the end of kindergarten.  Zeke hasn't seen her since June, but still refers to her as his "girlfriend."  I've attempted without success to get in touch with Beth's mom to see if Beth could come to Zeke's birthday party, and Zeke doesn't understand why we can't drive up there and figure out where she lives and knock on her door because of course she still loves him and wants to see him.  Why wouldn't she?

This is a character trait that I cannot fathom, as I have gone through my life feeling weird and out of place and assuming that nobody really likes me all that much.  This feeling has abated as an adult, but as a seven-year-old?  No way.  It was an entrenched part of how I approached the world.

He is also smart and curious and inquisitive and funny.  He loves school and is good at it.  He is a terrific athlete, and one of the stars of his flag football team.  He can spend hours outside looking at ants or playing in a pile of dirt.  When we go to visit my parents in Virginia, there's a nature preserve near them that is a great place to walk and hike.  Zeke could easily spend three hours climbing on rocks and throwing things in the creek and then jumping into the creek and inspecting rotting logs and on and on.  He shares my appreciation for fart-related humor.  He's incredibly sweet to and protective of his little sister.

Don't get me wrong, he can also be a massive pain in the ass.

He has this extraordinary attention span and ability to focus, but often to the exclusion of whatever it is I'm trying to get him to do at a particular moment, like put on his goddamned shoes and get in the car so we can make it to school on time.

So we have a lot of exchanges like this:
Me:  Zeke, it's time to go.  Put your shoes on. ......*no response* ...... Zeke, come on we're going to be late....*no response* .......... Zeke, let's go!..............*no response* ........................ZEKE! COME ON!!
Zeke:  Mama, don't yell!
Me: *head explodes*
He has great powers of reasoning, but uses them to try to argue with me.  And he's not quite as good at it as I am, but I forget that he's only seven, so we get in these absurd arguments that have me questioning my own sanity and fitness to be a mother.

He continues to take after his uncle Sam in a remarkable way, with his sensitivity and creativity and unique way of looking at the world, but also with his penchant for whining when he doesn't get his way.**  As a young child, Sam was a repeated recipient of the Wally Whiner Award, and his nephew is on track to match that success.

And yes, he adores his sister and is very attentive, but sometimes to the point that he keeps getting in her face or poking her or climbing on her or otherwise annoying her when all she wants is to be left alone -- sort of like being pecked to death by a chicken.

But mostly, he's kind of awesome.  He asks wonderful questions about the universe and animals and space and time travel and zombies and tornadoes and what the biggest thing in the world is.  And he makes me think about the world, and my place in it, in new ways.  In trying to raise him to be a kind, adventurous, interesting person, he makes me think about the kind of person I am and the kind of person I want to be.  About how to be a good mother who is worthy of the task of raising him.

It's a wild and wonderful ride.

*not her real name
**to clarify, Sam is no longer whiny.  Love you, Sammy!

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