My son is going to be 8 years old in August. Eight! As my oldest, he has the dubious honor of being his own uniquely wonderful person, and also living proof of the inexorable forward march of time. To me he represents the point when my life took its careening, shit-flying-out-the-windows turn into parenthood, and every birthday is both a celebration of his life and a private mind-boggle over just how long it's been since I paced outside a bathroom door, waiting the requisite minutes before I could see the test results, emotions twisting my already-queasy stomach into knots: hopeful terrified anxious happy scared excited nervous CANICHECKYET??
As I gear up to say goodbye to 7 -- for now, that is: my 5-year-old seems to be on the same high-speed Heartbreak Express out of little-kid territory -- I'd like to reminisce about my favorite things about parenting an almost-8-year-old boy ... along with a few of the less savory aspects.
Let's start with the not-so-awesome parts:
• Skid marks. Look, I'm not saying that picking up a brown-streaked pair of Ninjago underwear with your bare hands is as gross as changing a fully loaded diaper, but it's not exactly my favorite thing in the entire universe either. (Someone should totally sell a special set of tongs for this purpose. "Hello, Shark Tank? I'm offering $250,000 for 10 percent of my business and --" Sharks, in unison: "WE'RE OUT.") Maybe 7-year-old boys are always in a hurry because they've got a busy schedule of leaving a variety of painful and/or terrifying toys around the house for people to accidentally step on, but in my experience, their attention to detail when it comes to wiping is occasionally what you might call lacking.
• War noises. Pew. Pew pew pew! KABOOOOOOSH. Pow zap zzzzzzzzzkapooosh. Nnnnnnnnaaoooow! Blam blam blam blam. Pshew! ETC. What is with the near-constant air-ground combat noises? Whatever's going on in his head, it's a full-blown assault with lasers, explosives, and missiles. During a five-day road trip recently, I turned around to record what the kids sounded like during a long afternoon stretch of driving -- please note the 5-year-old placidly "feeding" his stuffed animal while his brother conducts some sort of complicated military operation next to him.
• Obsession with farting/burping. I mean, come on. Nothing's THAT funny, Child Who's Rolling Around On the Floor in Full-Blown Hysterical Laughter Because His Brother Ripped a Tiny High-Pitched Toot.
The good parts of 7 have far, FAR outweighed the bad, though. For instance:
• Spontaneous hand-holding. I know the days of my boy randomly reaching out to clasp my hand are coming to an end, so I soak it up whenever I get the chance.
• Random moments of legitimate humor. You know when your kid says something that's actually funny for REAL, as opposed to just being adorable or inappropriate or fart-focused or whatever? Seven seems like the age when this starts happening more and more frequently.
• Politeness. No longer a shy little kid, not yet a bershon pre-teen. At 7, my kid is staggeringly polite and offers an impressively manly one-pump handshake when meeting new people.
• Bravery. My sensitive, anxious boy is constantly meeting his worries head-on lately. A Ferris Wheel ride! A leap into the river from a towering rock! The creepy Dementors in that Harry Potter movie! Over and over, he shows me that he won't let fear stop him from the things he wants to experience.
• Overall awesomeness in almost every category. He's self-sufficient, generally upbeat, has a great gap-toothed smile, loves to give hugs, is best friends with his brother, shares my enthusiasm for Ren & Stimpy, plays a mean game of Connect 4, and tempers his obnoxious cavechild tendencies with a wonderfully caring soul. He's growing in leaps and bounds into the amazing man he'll eventually become, but thank goodness there's still so much little boy left to treasure.
Oh, 7 has been pretty much perfect, and I can't wait to see what 8 will bring. Do you like this age too?
Image via Linda Sharps