You are 8 years old today! We started the day with the traditional family birthday muffins. Actually, you started the day before any of us...you were already waiting for me when I came in the kitchen to bake! You always are an early riser. And it's a good thing you got a jump start on the day. As soon as you finished breakfast, you waited impatiently for your dad to take you to get your birthday present: a new bike! Much of the rest of the day was taken up riding around the neighborhood with your friends.
As I watched you blow out your candles this morning, read your cards, and ride your bike, I kept thinking the same thing: "He is so grown up!" And so you are. There is no trace of the baby you used to be--I long ago went from being "Mommy" to "Mom". You refer to your brothers as "you guys" and your friends as "dudes." You prefer a hot morning shower over the leisurely evening bubble baths you used to enjoy. You would rather watch a cowboy movie with Dad than cartoons with your brothers. You run to answer the phone when it rings, you know how to use the internet, and you recently figured out how to purchase pay-per-view movies off the TV. After 3 mysterious charges, we got smart and put parental locks on all the channels!
In some ways, you are just like any other growing boy. For one thing, you are pretty messy. Your room is a disaster, and I've had a hard time finding the balance between allowing it to be your personal space and insisting that it be tidy. I'm working on it, though. You also have become less careful about your appearance. You used to drive me crazy because you would roll up your pants legs because you thought you looked cool that way. Now, you don't seem to care if you're even wearing pants! You must be reminded to brush your teeth and comb your hair most days, and if I dare let you choose your clothes, they probably were picked up off your bedroom floor. I fear that this is just the first of many years of smelly socks, sweat-stained T-shirts, and moldy duffel bags for our family of boys!
In other ways, I am seeing more and more how God crafted you to be the one and only wonderful you. You really enjoy cooking--we have shared sweet moments in the kitchen creating delicious treats together. You adore horses! This year you finally got to take Papa's horse outside of the pen, and you are a pretty good rider. In fact, you are quite the outdoorsman. You also caught a gigantic fish this spring and killed your first deer just a few weeks ago. I will never forget how excited you were when you called me to tell me you "stopped him dead in his tracks!". You love to read, and can easily spend an hour (or longer) with your nose in a book.
This year you have enjoyed great success, but have also faced some tough challenges. This summer, one of your Sunday School teachers went to heaven after battling cancer. You asked questions that I couldn't answer, and it hurt my heart to realize that you still carry so much fear and worry from my illness. You faced a difficult situation at school in the fall, and showed us that your emotions--good and bad--run fast and furious. I wanted so much to step in and "fix it" for you, and I just couldn't. Talk about growing pains! As hard as these things have been, I am thankful for the bond that we share and the evidence that the God of the Universe holds my boy in His hand.
There are two mental pictures I have of The Year You Were Seven that I hope I never forget. One is from the day you broke your arm in Abilene. A visit to the ER became a trip to the operating room to reset the bone. While we waited for them to wheel you in to the OR, I was an emotional mess--I couldn't bear the thought of you going in there alone. But I didn't want you to feel scared, so I tried not to let you see me cry. When it was time for you to go, I leaned over to kiss you, and you gently wiped the tears off my face.
The other happens on a pretty regular basis: When I drop you and Little Middle off at school in the morning, you take care of him. Even if we're pressed for time, you wait for him to get out of the car, and you walk with him into the school building. I love to watch you caring for and loving your little brother that way, and I equally love how he seems to walk a little taller with you by his side.
Dad and I are so proud of you, little man. God made you strong, smart, and so very, very special. I expect that eight will be great for you, and I look forward to seeing what you will do next. I have no greater joy than simply being your mom. Happy Birthday, baby.
I love you,