Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Middle School Graduate

Baby Caleb.  Despite his age, this is how I still see him most days.

How he really looks today.  Still my baby, but just bigger.

As I'm adding Caleb's pictures to my blog, I'm swatting away tears. On a week like this, the fleeting nature of my children's childhood seems apparent.  

My oldest son is graduating from middle school in two days.  That means he is a high school student.  

I'm making a big fuss over his middle school graduation.  There will be a present and a cake.  Caleb shoos away my sappy gestures by assuring me that a middle school graduation is inconsequential in the grand scheme of life.

That's when I'm aware that my child doesn't even know me.  Everything in my children's lives is an occasion for sappiness and reflection.  And a middle school graduation (for my oldest child) is enough to spiral me into an emotional tizzy.

This week I'm reflecting on my oldest son.  

As a mom of four sons, I'm a believer that each boy was born with a unique personality that became apparent once the pregnancy test registered positive.

For Caleb, his personality showed quickly.  Early on, he exhibited a zest for learning and absorbing new information.  I vividly remember Caleb, age four, enthralled with a National Geographic article on the malaria crisis in Africa.  Of course, he was quick to share his newfound information on the malaria crisis in Africa to his pint-size playmates (who tuned-out his wacky chatter in favor of another episode of Thomas the Train).

Another early observation is that Caleb displayed what I'd like to call "spirit" or "grit."  When he was in early elementary school, I announced that bed making would be part of our morning routine.  Caleb clearly thought bed making was superfluous.  (We're getting right back in it the bed in a matter of hours, he cried.)  

I held my ground.  

So did he.  

For the next six months, he slept in a sleeping bag on top of a made bed.

From this interaction, I knew he had "grit."  (And because I held my ground too, I knew from which parent Caleb inherited his grit.)

Through these early years, the "grit" and the "spirit" led to squabbles and tears (on both of our ends).  On some of the worst nights, I feared the teenager he could become in a few short years.  (Big kid, big problems, right.)  On those nights when the anxieties over his future stifled my sleep, I hit my knees and prayed.  Theses were earnest prayers.  The sort of prayers where your knees rub the carpet raw and your hands feel gelled together by a mixture of sweat and tears.

Looking at Caleb now is like watching a living, breathing answer to prayer.  He is responsible, hardworking, witty, faith-filled, and (most importantly) kind.  When walking into buildings, he opens the door for his mother and other women.  He says "thank you" and "please" to servers at restaurants.  When he sees his mother overrun with dishes and laundry, he lends a hand.

There are so many things I could say about Caleb, but those last few lines are my proudest as a parent.

I made him promise that he will stay in this sweet state until he turns 18.  He promises.  Time will tell.  But from what we see now, we're turning out a kid that will change the world, for the better.

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