My son, Lucas, is turning 10-years-old this week. Today is his 10th birthday party. Ten years ago, when I first anxiously held a chubby little blonde infant in my arms, I couldn’t even fathom this day. I couldn’t foresee in the deepest reaches of my imagination what ten years old would look like. What ten would sound like. Or feel like. Today, I am in awe of my son.
For those of you who have not yet achieved double digits in your own family, allow me to share a little bit about what ten looks like. For those of you like me who are intimately acquainted with ten, this may sound all too familiar.
Ten years old is amazing, really. Ten is coming into his own. Ten has his own ideas. His own opinions. Ten tells me that he doesn’t believe in God. But he believes in monsters. And he believes in Bigfoot. And dragons. And he believes in aliens. And he tries to convince me that the Loch Ness monster is real. Ten believes everything he sees on television. And the internet. And everything his friends tell him. Ten has yet to develop healthy skepticism.
Ten is tall. Ten is almost as tall as me. We wear the same size shoes. Ten is awkward. Ten is clumsy. Ten seems to be unsure how to inhabit a body that is growing and changing at such an accelerated rate every single day. Though reason tells me it is a physical impossibility, ten seems to grow an inch every single night. I secretly wish I could have back just a tenth of the money I’ve spent on jeans that are outgrown before they are barely worn.
Ten’s beautiful blonde locks that I adored when he was little have darkened to a light brown. “Dishwater” blonde, we call it. Thick dishwater blonde hair that hangs over his ears and curls over the collar of his shirt. Ten needs a haircut.
Ten’s dimples are deeper than ever. And they appear when you least expect them. Unprovoked. Unanticipated. Ten smiles easily. And often. Ten still giggles like a little schoolgirl. Ten tells fart jokes. And poop jokes. And pee jokes. Ten is fixated on bodily functions. Ten thinks he is the funniest creature ever to grace the earth with his presence. Ten doesn’t care if he is the only one laughing.
Ten still wants hugs and kisses at bedtime. Ten says “I love you, mom.” But not at school. Not in front of his friends. Ten still climbs into mommy’s bed to cuddle on Sunday mornings. Ten still sleeps with the stuffed dog he has had since birth. Ten wants so desperately to be a big kid. To be a grown-up. He wants it, but is not sure he is ready for it. Or that he knows how.
Ten showers with the bathroom door open—just in case his family is kidnapped by aliens while the shower curtain is pulled shut. Ten forgets to flush the toilet. Ten forgets to wash his hands. Ten forgets his homework. Ten forgets his lunch box. And his gloves. And his hat. Ten would forget to put on underwear if we did not remind him.
Ten picks on his little brother. Incessantly. Ten complains. Ten uses words like “that sucks” and “stupid” and “idiot.” Ten thinks everything is “unfair.” Ten has become a master at sulking. He has perfected the pubescent pout. Ten thinks this family is a democracy. Ten is wrong.
Despite picking on them, ten is fiercely protective of his younger brother and sister. They are his bitches. He can call them degrading names. He can coerce them into doing his chores. He can ignore them. He can punch them out of the blue as they sit watching television and then giggle maniacally. But no one else is allowed to touch them. Ten will defend his brother and sister at all costs. To the ends of the earth.
Ten can put away three hot dogs in one sitting, but can’t seem to choke down a single vegetable. Everything I offer him is “gross” or “stinky” or “slimy.” Ten would live on McNuggets if given the choice.
Ten has a smart mouth. He recently discovered sarcasm and has embraced it with wild abandon. Ten mumbles under his breath. Ten has to be told to do something multiple times. Then again. Ten has the uncanny ability to morph into a deaf blind mute when parked in front of a television screen. Or a computer screen. Or my phone. The size of the screen is irrelevant.
Ten is lazy. Ten is messy. Ten occasionally smells. Gone is the sweet scent of early childhood. Ten smells like dirt. And sweat. And feet.
Ten’s bedroom is atrocious. I often wonder how ten is able to squeeze his lanky frame into a twin bed covered in Lego pieces and books and drawings and pencils and random shards of metal from his Erector sets.
Ten and I can talk now. Really talk. I can have honest give-and-take conversations with ten. His vocabulary astounds me. We can talk about ideas and feelings and theories. I can reason with ten.
Ten has a sense of who he is. Ten has a moral code. Ten knows right from wrong. Ten immediately comprehends when he has stepped over a line. He apologizes. And he means it when he does.
Ten has opinions about movies. About television. He has opinions about books. And current events. And news stories. He has opinions about everything. Opinions that he readily shares. Ten likes a good debate. Perhaps a little too much.
Ten questions everything. Ten wants to know why. Ten wants to understand how. Why do you believe that, mom? How do you know that, mom? Why do you do that, mom? Ten makes you question everything you know. Everything you do. Everything you believe to be true. Ten is challenging.
Ten is brilliant. Truly. Ten can talk at length about dinosaurs. He is an expert on the life and times of ancient Egyptians. He knows what a black hole is. And an event horizon. He can pontificate on the life cycle of a star. Ten spends hours upon hours watching science documentaries. Every single day, ten amazes me with a new fact that he pulls from God-only-knows-where. New information I never would have suspected he knew. Ten sucks up knowledge like a sponge.
My son is ten. He is amazing and funny and loving and intelligent and resourceful and kind and gentle and aggravating and annoying and frustrating and challenging and stubborn. He is everything a ten-year-old should be. And I adore him.
Happy birthday, Lucas!