I spent a number of years managing an entire class of ten year olds.
And now I have my own.
It seems like yesterday that you were tiny and new, and I was a nervous wreck, bringing your small heart into this large, unsafe world. I slept curled around you like a treble clef, like I could protect you from everything, anything.
I was, and still am, grateful and astonished that you're here.
You give a solid, proper hug, both arms lingering like you mean it.
Unless we're in public, and then it's usually sideways and quick.
You are a stand up guy, adding jokes to your school presentations, speaking in puns and making lists of happy thoughts inside condolence cards. You are mastering the bridge between playful and poignant.
You are learning to say, when you walk into the kitchen, “Put me to work.”
You stand next to me at the sink, peeling carrots, asking three questions in one breath.
Why do people repeat the names of things : puppy dog, kitty cat, bunny rabbit, baby doll?
Have you ever noticed how certain books have a funny smell, kind of an old scent?
What if compound words were reversed: finger chicken, pants sweat, paper toilet?
You sit quietly next to me on the couch, each of us lost in our own reading material.
You vacillate between talking in stream of conscious mode and not talking at all.
I wonder if you ever turn toward an empty space, looking for a sister, someone to tease or adorn or begrudge or protect? I think you do, and I think that means your heart is working.
I mean, I know your heart is working, even when you don't quite articulate the ways.
You treat the world with curiosity and respect, look at usual things with unusual eyes. For example, swinging your feet into boots at the back door, thinking aloud: I wonder why glue doesn't stick to the inside of the glue bottle?
You live outside any whirlpool of streaming urgencies.
You are so perceptive and intuitive.
Often you share weird, random facts - about the human body, or a hot pepper, or the reason cacti have ridges. When I ask how you know, sometimes you cite a source, but often you just shrug your little shoulders, smile slightly and say, I just know.
Raising an old soul can be humbling and daunting.
I often wish for half as much confidence in myself as I have in you.
More than confident, you are courageous. You know that you don't have to know what you're doing to try, you don't have to be good at something to enjoy it.
There are things you don't yet know, too.
You still ask me to help match clothes, to double check answers, to remind you of things.
I hope you call me on the phone a decade from now, asking for advice or a favorite recipe.
I want to build walls around you and your brothers, to live inside the blessings of right now forever.
But you want to be in motion, to move forward and up and out, they way you're supposed to go.
At ten, Tucker, you are clearly launching away from us, the way growing kids are meant to do, beginning your ascent into adolescence. May the world be open to your rise.
I love you more than words.