Friday, February 10, 2012

A Very Good Boy

Cade turned twelve late last month, but I've struggled in weaving words for his birthday. I've struggled, to be honest, in writing anything positive; I read over what loveliness I've tried to trap and find my words clipped, forced.

He deserves better, so I've postponed.

At school, he continues to earn mostly A's, and he started playing the clarinet, this year. He didn't want to play the clarinet, and I pushed back because--truthfully?--Beekman's "mouth test" sounded like a bunch of horsecrap, to me. Also, I thought: give the poor Harry-Potter-looking kid a break and a more manly instrument to play. If not drums, why not at least a trumpet?

But Beekman wouldn't back down, and Cade decided he'd rather play clarinet than nothing, so here we are. And--as is so very often the case--it appears I was wrong; Cade's mouth seems remarkably  well-suited to the clarinet.

In church choir, Cade's switched from soprano to tenor. I miss his sitting beside me, at practice.

He takes seriously his commitment to welcome young visitors to church; his Sunday school teacher, a couple weeks ago, thought another boy an old friend and not someone Cade had met that day, and I'm not going to lie: it was a proud moment, for me.

He's been a student of karate since age four and will test for his Black Belt this spring. He's pushing hard for his upcoming moment before thirty judges: attending class after class, running mile after mile.

But I suspect he'd say that--of all his activities--Boy Scouts is his favorite. His best friends are fellow Scouts: other boys who love to camp no matter the weather. I stand in the shadows: listen to them pray over their meals, watch them treat little sisters with tenderness.

For his birthday, Cade and I went--just the two of us--to dinner and a movie, and I was pulling out of the parking lot when I realized I'd forgotten to take him to the bookstore. "Why didn't you remind me?" I asked, turning around the minivan.

"I didn't forget," he said, "I just didn't want to seem pushy."

I bought him a hardback.

He's gone (to school, to his dad's, to the centers of various activities) often, and his spirit is so gentle and unassuming that--even when he's here, in his sisters' clamor and climb--I sometimes look over or through him.

But tonight, I stopped and looked, hard, into his twelve-year-old eyes. I said: "I want you to know: I see you. You're not invisible. I see you; I love you; and I'm so, so proud of you."

"Ok," he smiled out, and the spell was broken. I tucked the blankets 'round his shoulders and walked away to write these overdue words for a good boy: not a perfect boy, but a very good boy. My boy.

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