You turned eight this weekend. We try to bring the fanfare to your special day, even though we’re all still recovering from the fun of Christmas and the unnamed, lazy days between then and New Year’s. Your requests for gifts falter, found under the Christmas tree or mostly forgotten in the happy haze of gratitude for what you did receive.
This year, you loved your Nintendo Switch, your fascination with video games both endearing and unnerving. It’s new for us, the stories about Minecraft, though there’s something comforting about the familiar sound of the part of the game that plays the old Super Mario Brothers music.
At eight you always default to laughter, telling jokes and laughing at your own punchlines as much as you like to listen to our jokes and laugh at the punchlines you don’t know. You still let Abbey take the lead, though we’re seeing signs of resistance crop up more often than they have in the past.
You know more about Star Wars than all of us combined and build LEGO creations with a focused singularity I wish I could replicate on, well, almost anything.
You love reading and snuggling under blankets, and I relish seeing you with a book in your hands, even though I would never choose the titles myself: Notebook of Doom and Dogman and countless Diary of a Wimpy Kid titles. I always thought my concept of letting kids read what they wanted would be challenged by taboo subjects, but I didn’t expect those to be in the form of fart jokes.
Eight years into parenting you, and I’m still learning what it means to do that.
You love chocolate and hate most vegetables, though you’ll devour Brussels sprouts and broccoli — and eat the carrots in your lunch box, possibly because you’re always hungry, and they’re the last thing left for you to eat.
When we walk to school, you kiss me goodbye — a little reluctantly — and run ahead to your line on the side of the school without looking back to wave. That fills and breaks my heart at the same time. Your sister wanted me to walk with her for longer, and I thought I had more time to hold your hand for a few last moments before our days diverged.
I don’t want to run out of time.
So maybe I’ll hug you a few too many times or kiss you goodnight just-once-more on my way to bed. I’ll ignore that you’ve been sleeping for hours in a bed filled with books, stuffed animals, and a plastic light saber — Kylo Ren’s, because you think it’s the coolest looking, even though you think he’s made some pretty bad choices. And in the morning, when you can’t find socks for the forty-second day in a row, I’ll hug you again and kiss you again, and I’ll hold your hand and hope you’ll still let me hold it when you’re nine.