Jack: Seven years
Seven up, baby! The day before your birthday, you came home from school with a tooth wrapped in a tissue and gap in your lower jaw. It wasn’t the first tooth you lost — it was the third, actually — so you weren’t overly excited about it and even forgot to tell me until I noticed it as you were getting out of the car. You had wiggled and nudged and picked at that tooth for weeks and every time I offered to just pull it out, you declined and said you were scared it would hurt. When I tucked you into bed that night, we talked about it being both your last sleep as a 6-year-old and a tooth fairy night and you couldn’t stop grinning. I looked at you, shirtless and in long pajama pants, your hair damp from your shower with your toothless grin and I almost died inside because there is no trace of baby left in you. Heck, there’s barely a trace of little boy left.
You are tall and lean, all arms and legs and bony shoulders. You prefer jeans and T-shirts, but will pretty much wear anything I put out for you in the morning. You know how to tie your own shoes, zip and button your own coat and this is the year when I ceded control of your hygiene. You know how to turn on the shower, make it just the right temperature, wash your entire self, turn off the shower, dry off, brush your teeth and comb your hair. I hope you remember each of the steps in the process when you become a teen-aged boy, but I don’t have high hopes.
Your favorite thing in the world right now are LEGO sets and you will spend hours constructing complicated structures and vehicles in your room. Daddy sometimes helps, but mostly you will tinker around by yourself, checking the directions and generally creating replicas of what is pictured. I must admit, your spatial skills are far better than mine as those LEGO directions still sometimes confuse me. If you’re not doing LEGOs, you’re probably playing with these crazy Perplexus maze-ball things you’ve been obsessed with. But let me tell you, these toys drive you insane to the point where we sometimes have to take them away (you have three of them). You get frustrated and throw them or yell out in frustration, slamming them on the couch. This intensity is something we’re working on with you — trying to make you realize things won’t be perfect every time you do them, that sometimes it takes practice to get good at things.
Despite your penchant for fah-reaking the freak out about the Perplexus, this past year has really been a year of growth and maturity. You left the familiarity of your early childhood classroom that you spent three years in for the new setting of the EL1 classroom, full of different first- second- and third-graders as well as a different teacher and teaching assistant. At first you were very hesitant and there were some tears and a lot of separation anxiety. But within a few weeks, you were running into school and happy to be there. You love learning — math and science are your favorites, you tell us — and are genuinely curious about how things work and why things are the way they are. You’re a typical first-grade boy in that you have trouble sitting still and controlling your voice sometimes, but for the most part, we get good reports and are thrilled with your progress academically. You’ve made some new friends and have left behind the recess games of the last few years for games of Dinosaur Tag and Monster tag. When I see you in line with all those big kids now, you blend right in, which makes me want to stunt your growth because soon, you’ll BE one of those big third-grade boys and then what will I do?
You and your sisters still love a good session of potty talk at the dinner table and you’ve been kind enough to introduce the words “fart” and “stupid” to the vocabulary of your 3-year-old sister. Again, thanks multi-age Montessori classroom! But the three of you spend almost all your time laughing together, that is, when someone isn’t crying about rough play or sibling-on-sibling violence. You and Emmie engage in elaborate pretend scenarios and you all are obsessed with playing this Kinect Party game on the Xbox where your image is actually part of the game. I know in 10 years when your read this you won’t only be asking what a blog was, but also what the hell an Xbox was. But trust me, you three couldn’t get enough of this game.
You are lucky enough to spend a good deal of time with both sets of grandparents, something your dad and I take for granted right now, but will be the basis of good memories when you are older. We think it’s great that they all enjoy spending time with the three of you in a group as well as one-on-one. Every summer you each get to spend a few days alone at “Grandma and Grandpa” camp where you are spoiled rotten and allowed to choose any activity, food and toy you want. You so look forward to those weeks and I am so happy you have such an amazing relationship with your grandparents. And be glad they’re on your side because they are A LOT more lenient and tolerant than your father and I are. They also have more disposable income, which works out well for you and your toy collection.
You’ve changed so much this last year emotionally as well. You’re less apt to throw a full-out tantrum about something, and if you do, you are able to calm yourself down and show remorse for your actions. You definitely know the difference between right and wrong, and while you don’t always make the right choice, we have seen flashes of it here and there.
But you still like to hug us and kiss us, you still like to cuddle up on the couch with us under a blanket, you still like to read and write notes to people, complete with the awesomest phonetic spelling. You make breakfast for yourself and your sisters (cereal in Ziploc bags that you all call breakfast picnic) on the weekends and you load and unload the dishwasher. You help Daddy and Grandpa with tool-related tasks and know how to change the batteries in all your toys. You love to play soccer, baseball, basketball and tennis, but you also love your after-school chess class and play the piano quite well. You can’t get enough roller-coaster rides under your belt, and you hope beyond hope at every visit to Six Flags that you’re 54 inches so you can go on every ride. Soon, my dear, soon (you’re 50 inches right now). You read chapter books (the Magic Treehouse series is your favorite) and can’t get enough of Plants vs Zombies on the iPad. You are a great conversationalist and always volunteer to run errands with us. You are loving, likable, lively and light-hearted. You are seven. And you never cease to amaze me.