When I was pregnant with my first child, I remember sitting in the assembled nursery, my huge belly resting on my lap as I rocked in our newly purchased glider, and marveled at how the room had changed. Just months before it had been a perfectly unremarkable guest room, and now look at it! Softly lit, filled with unfamiliar furniture, dreamily unfocused stars projected on the ceiling from the crib mobile.
I was thinking of that strange, anticipatory feeling the other day when I was in my oldest son's room gathering laundry. How his room has a life of its own now, his personality shining through in every minute piece of clutter. Once upon a time, that yet-unused nursery overwhelmed me with its quiet promise of how our lives were going to change ... and now my 8-year-old's messy room still crushes my heart, with its freeze-frame capture of a little boy's journey to growing up.
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Eight, in my experience, is a nearly indescribable combination of little and big. In the right light, I see a lanky teen-in-the-making. Sometimes he's all pointy limbs and giant grownup teeth and eye-rolls. And yet sometimes he has all the soft edges and liquid eyes of the baby I used to hold.
I see this juxtaposition in his bedroom. Both sides of him, the big kid, the little boy. Just look:
Big kid: The monster/robot-movie posters hanging on his walls.
Little kid: The years-old framed photo of him with his little brother.
Big kid: The collection of action figures and a clay pigeon he once shot with his dad.
Little kid: The carefully-displayed card I doodled for him one day several months ago.
Big kid: This homemade radio that actually receives broadcasts from NPR.
Little kid: The animals stored IN the radio.
Big kid: The camouflage hat he keeps on his bedpost, perhaps in case of a midnight hunting opportunity.
Little kid: The tucked-in stuffed tiger and rabbit.
Big kid: The chapter books that show his interests: outdoors, survival, dragons.
Little kid: This, stored in a drawer but never forgotten.
Big kid: Whatever ... this ... is.
Little kid: I asked what he was keeping in this small container. It's the stray pieces of fabric that have come off his beloved blanket, his "blue blankie" he's slept with every night since the day he was born.
Does your kid's room look at all like this? An oddball collection of things that show how they've grown -- and yet how young they are still?
Images via Linda Sharps