Saturday, July 14, 2007
Now that we're about halfway through it with John, I've come to the understanding that eight isn't eight. Eight is halfway between seven and nine. More specifically, eight is sometimes seven (the sweet spontaneous hug, the shadow of a baby curve in a cheek, the delight of discovery) and sometimes nine (the weird nervous boy energy, the easily distracted attention span, the sudden sloth, the seemingly indifferent forgetfulness of chores, responsibilities and human interaction).
Eight, we must remember, is also halfway to 16. That really doesn't bear thinking about, and yet I'm reminded of it almost every day with an eye roll in response to something I say, or a gusty sigh when I outline a chore. Sometimes he's nothing but elbows. Sometimes he's in the wrong font, and I want to highlight him and dial down the font size until he fits.
But if I could just lighten up once in awhile I would see how the light shines through even the attitude and the back talk.
A couple of weeks ago, we went down to Omaha for my parents' 40th wedding anniversary. There was much festiveness, good food, good people, and a lot of fun. We ended the whole shebang with dinner at The Venice Inn.
My sister and I, who come from a family of nondemonstrative, understated and understating Germans, threw ourselves into a worry over a toast. Surely, at a nice family dinner, their children could at least stand up and make a toast. While harrowing, we decided it must be done.
After the drinks were poured, I stood and said a few words. My sister followed. With that out of the way, the evening could get started. With the ice broken, a couple other toasts were made. Food was ordered. Talk and banter around the table was at a fine pitch.
Then John stood up. He wasn't twitching around. He didn't stammer or get derailed in his brain by an episode of Spongebob. He smiled and looked at my parents and said, "I just wanted to thank you for being such great grandparents." And he nodded at them, and sat down.
That night, tucking him in, I told him that was a very grown-up thing he had done. He nodded and said, "I don't know why, but when I was saying that toast, I felt like I was going to cry." I told him that was because sometimes when our hearts are full like that, it makes us feel like crying, even when we're not sad. He liked that explanation. I kissed his eight-year-old forehead, and he went to sleep.