Andy's Iceless Hockey team won third place! They won third out of fourth in their division. If my team won third out of fourth, I would feel rather ho-hum about the whole thing. That's because I'm a jaded adult who wouldn't bother to get out of bed for less than second place. But Andy, who has the heart of a champion, cannot be more proud of himself and his team. This is partly because he doesn't understand that the third place is within his given four team division only. And partly because they gave him a trophy!
Andy's thrilled to be a winner and to have a trophy. When we got home after the ceremony, he ran the trophy upstairs to his room and immediately dumped it into this big cardboard box he's started keeping on the foot of his mattress. There's a bunch of stuff in that box. His Captain Underpants books. The basket he built at Home Depot. His wallet. His diary. (Entry one is the poetic masterpiece: "Alex is a poop face.") I watched him throw the trophy in, and I asked, "Andy, don't you want to put that trophy on display somewhere?" And he replied, "Nah. I'm going to pack it in my box so I don't forget to take it with me."
Pause. Take it with him?
"Wait," I said to Andy as he closed the flaps on the box. "You're packing? To move out?"
"Well yeah," He climbed down from the top bunk, and in the shadows I saw, for an instant, the first few buds of facial hair. "I mean, eventually I'm going to have to move out. When I'm grown up, that is. And that box is full of all the stuff I don't want to forget."
"Makes sense," I mumbled as he moved past me to get downstairs and perhaps brew himself a strong pot of coffee, clean out the gutters, or do something else equally adult-like. I very clearly remember, two years ago, having to gently break the news to Andy that one day he would grow up, move out, get married to a woman other than me, and have his own family. I have since learned from my mistakes, and now when Alex tells me he loves me, wants to marry me, and will stay with me forever, I squeeze him tight and say, "That's right, Alex. You belong here with me. Until the end of time." I try to keep my voice from sounding creepy, my squeeze from being painful.
These kids are growing fast, though. Of course they are. It's what kids do, and it's the foundation of every mother's mothering blog. Andy's aforementioned diary contains other hints of this growing, and yes, of course I read his diary. The lock is not exactly difficult to pick. "I love Lori," he wrote recently. Lori! Who's this Lori bitch and how dare she try to steal my son! I have since sought out this Lori in line for gym at the school, which is when I see Andy's class while I drop Alex off for speech, and have basically given her the stink eye. Two stink eyes, really. Isn't this all too soon? This liking girls nonsense? Of course, when I clearly remember my first crush right around first or second grade, my heart sinks like a stone for my children. Crushes. They use that crippling, air compressing word for a reason.
Alas, I'm also in deep denial that Emily is turning two next month. I thought for a long time that Andy was a brilliant baby/ toddler/ child. Then I thought Alex was really the smart one, as I watched him, as a three year old, put together 50 piece puzzles with ease. "Forget Andy," I muttered to myself. "Now my money's on Alex." Lately, I'm thinking I had it all wrong, and Emily is the real genius of the family. Of course, a better mother than me would never make such comparisons on her children's intelligence levels, but I never said I was a better mother. I'll be honest with you, though. Emily's blowing these guys out of the water. She can already count to ten, she knows her ABCs, she sings many different songs, and she has a penchant for doing things correctly. She is independent, laughs at jokes, and tackles the playground like a child twice her age. Truly, she is turning into everything I wish I was as a woman. Beautiful, fearless, funny, smart. Looks good in tight pants. Can polish off an entire ice cream sandwich leaving behind nary a crumb or drip. Is excellent at penciling in information on long, complex forms. All of this does nothing for my denial that she is also growing older.
Now Emily's diary will be a sight to behold when she gets to be a little older. And yes, I will read that too. Which brother will she call a poop face? Which young boy will she get her first crush on? Hopefully it is someone like I think and hope Andy is. Someone who their teacher calls an "absolute pleasure." A really nice boy, the kind of boy who thinks ahead and starts packing for college eleven years in advance.
Or maybe a boy like Alex who giggles nervously when he talks about growing up and says, while snuggling in, "I'm going to stay with you forever, Mommy." Either way, I guess. Either way.