You are turning 12 this year. You are in staunch denial of the fact that you are growing up. As desperately as possible you are pushing back impending womanhood. You are clinging to the rough and tumble life of a child like a new swimmer clutches the edge of the pool. You still have bruised knees and bandaid elbows. You are far more likely to wear Chuck Taylor tennis shoes and jeans than you are a dress and flats. You don’t like makeup, boys or movie stars, and as your mother I indulge these desires. I encourage you to cling to your childhood.
Like a desert mirage I periodically see glimpses of your maturation. Your persona on stage, your soaring voice when you sing, the gentle way you care for your sister — all glimpses of grown-up Lucy. Your sudden and passionate interest in world news and politics, your initiative and organization during school hours, your sophisticated taste in music and art — all make my heart glow as I see the person you are becoming. And then, at the end of the day you fling your arms around my neck as tight as can be, nuzzle your head and mumble, “do you know how much I love you?” and I think, “not nearly as much as I love you.”
You just turned 10 and this is the year you really discovered yourself. Up until now you have hid in the background just hoping people wouldn’t really notice you, unsure of your strengths, not knowing what made you special. But this past year I have seen you blossom.
Although your stutter persists you are no longer self conscious about it. In fact you volunteered to sing with your band – IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. And that band has been key in building your self-confidence. An environment of young boys and men where you feel like you can be yourself — a little quirky, a little rock and roll.
Your gentle heart and delicate emotions still run very close to the surface always threatening to bubble over. And although at times you view this as a weakness I can assure you that it is your greatest strength — your strong desire to love and be sympathetic is crafting you into a strong, virtuous young man. An honorable gentleman who diverts his eyes when faced with scantily clad women or inappropriate content. A young sir who is painfully honest and who defends those weaker and more vulnerable than himself.
And yet when I tuck you into bed at night – with a quick kiss to the forehead – you still feel like my tiny boy. Not sure that feeling will ever go away.
You turned 6 years old. I owe you an apology Harper. Your childhood has been a series of missed steps. You seemed to never have had the opportunity to wallow in being little because your big sister and brother have dragged you quickly into “big-kid” territory. You ride a two-wheel bike with no training wheels, you are rushing to learn to read, and want to do everything they do. You want to be EXACTLY like your big sister and follow her around everywhere. You are very lucky that she is so gentle and patient with you and rarely complains. In fact, she lets you sleep with her every night.
You have a spunky personality that does not take well to being denied ANYTHING. “No” is not a word you like to hear. As stubborn and pushy as you can be I’ve never seen such an empathetic spirit. You are quick to run to somebody’s aid, nurse a boo-boo or dry some tears. You get great joy in taking care of others and with every step I become even more convinced that you will go into the medical field someday. You love hospitals, doctor’s offices and look forward to going.
I snuggle and cajole and bend to your will. You are my last baby and I will not let go easily and you seem to be completely okay with that. At this age I was already worrying about your big brother and sister giving up blankets and sucking thumbs and rushing them to be “big” but with you I have no such desire. Just stay little Harper – for as long as possible.