There are five new Star Wars action figures lined up on the coffee table.
"I lined them up in order of episodes. And if there are two from the same episode, like Anakin and Obi-Wan, I just put them in alphabetical order."
Lots of people look at Alex and tell me "He looks just like Bill!" and he does, in a lot of ways. Same tall, lean build, some of the same facial expressions. He kind of looks a little like the pictures we have of Bill when he was in grade school.
And Alex is learning to play guitar, and he likes to go fishing, and to play wiffle ball and baseball, and he loves dinosaurs and science and nature and camping and exploring.
He is pretty even-tempered, and kind, and sweet.
But he is also my child.
He loves to read, and write stories, and draw. He is good in math.
He's a boy, so of course it's natural to say that he looks like Bill, just as people think Julia looks like me. And, to a degree, it's true. Alex looks like Bill and Julia looks like me.
Julia's mouth, her smile, belongs to Bill's side of the family. Specifically to Bill's mom. When Julia laughs loudly, she reminds me of a black and white photo of Bill's mom on her wedding day, when she, too, was laughing loudly about something. I love that image. I wish I had a copy of it, outside of the one in my memory.
And Alex…well, I can't pinpoint a facial feature from my side, though sometimes I think he has my eyes. But it's more of an inner thing that I think he has from me.
Recently he sat in the red chair in our living room, and he asked me "Mom, when I'm in high school, do I still bring a lunch?" I told him if he wanted to, he could bring one, or he could buy it at school. He nodded.
It was an introspective kind of day.
"It's my last day of being seven," he mentioned. I looked at him for a moment. There was a wistful look on his little freckled face. So I asked him how he felt about that.
"Kind of sad," he told me. I said that was okay. Seven was a wonderful year.
And then I told him not to really worry about the numbers. He'd still be doing the same things, being the same person on his last day of seven and his first day of eight. The number was just…a way of keeping track of time.
He told me he was a little nervous about going to high school, but I pointed out that he didn't need to think about that just yet. And sure, if he was going to high school at this age, it WOULD be pretty scary, but when he goes, he'll be older, and it will be okay. Of course, I say all this with mental fingers crossed. My own memories of high school are not too wonderful.
Later on, when I was packing up his lunch, I asked him if he wanted me to make his lunch when he's in high school.
He said yes.
In the jungle, it's comforting to carry a lunch that your mom made for you.
And I know things can change.
But for now, I'm glad he wants me to make his lunch.
Food is love in a brown bag.
So my baby boy is eight now.
It's a cliche, yes, but it's still true – that question – where did the time go? It went by so fast…
"…is this the little boy at play?/…when did he grow to be this tall?/ Wasn't it yesterday when they were small?"
I'm thinking, all of a sudden, about a bit of advice a friend gave me right before my wedding. She told me to take the time, during all of it, just to stop, and look around, and soak it all in, because that day would go by so fast.
And I'm glad I listened to her, not just on that day, but in all the days to follow. Days and weeks and months and years.
From tiny onesies to pull ups to super hero underpants to wearing a cup because baseballs can cause a lot of pain.
From nursing to pureed vegetables to the fine motor skills of picking up cheerios to picking fresh strawberries in the garden to using chopsticks for sashimi.
From toothless to first tooth in to first tooth fairy visit to a handsome, gapless smile.
From a thin orangutan tuft of hair to shaggy to surfer dude to summer buzz cut.
From me reading "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" to him, lying on his bed when he was shorter and still had the slightly chubby arms and legs of a toddler, to him, last night, lying on my bed, reading "The Grouchy Ladybug" to me, (because he knows I like that one the best) complete with different voices for the various animals along the way.
From kicking my ribs from within to putting his toes in his mouth to rolling over to crawling to standing to walking to running to rounding third.
So many froms and tos, and I know, so many more to come.
My firstborn child.
I hold my breath as the moments unfold, even as I'm hollering that we need to hurry up or we'll be late.
The elasticity of time.
Ohhhh, I don't want him to be eight already!!!
Too fast! It's going too fast!
Slow down, my swiftly running boy, so I can hang onto you and hug you a while longer.
And then open my arms so you can soar, my sweet, kind, amazing boy.
Happy Birthday, Alex.