Monday, June 21, 2010

Eight Years, Eight Things

My dearest Josiah,

"This is the worst birthday ever," you mourned as you sat on the couch Sunday morning a week ago while I took your temperature and discovered you had a fever, thus curtailing our plans for your big day. My heart was so sad for you; and through the pain and fog of my own sickness, I tried to think of how to redeem the day for you. I hope the wonderful potluck fellowship we had last Friday, complete with our birthday tradition of pinata-smashing, helped to alleviate your disappointment so that when you look back at your eighth birthday, you'll be full of joy and not sadness.

Let me tell you eight of the things that stand out to me about you as you turn eight years old.

1. You are growing up. I say that every year, and it's true every year--in fact, it's true every day. :) But I had a fresh realization of this when I was trying to figure out what to buy you for your birthday. This was actually the first year that I had a hard time knowing what to get for you. You're growing out of the toy stage--at least, the toy stage in which I could go to Walmart and walk up and down the aisles and find lots of things that you would like. Now, you know what you want; and sure, you could walk up and down the aisles at Walmart and find some choices, but it's not so easy for others to buy for you. We got you some Narnia movies, and a real pocketknife, and a grown-up wallet, and a Star Wars activity book, and a radio-controlled car, and two books (one of which was a thick complete guide to the value of old coins--not at all a child's book). You were very happy with everything you received; but as I look at the list, I feel nostalgic. Where is the little boy who delighted in toy cars and didn't want to leave the house without one in each hand? Where is the little boy who only wanted Thomas the Tank Engine gifts? He's gone, and in his place is a young man who is thrilled by a pocketknife and a black leather wallet--like Dad's. The apron strings are being cut a little more; and although I couldn't be more proud of you, I have to stop and use that apron to wipe away a few tears sometimes. :)
2. You are so smart! I've already written about your tremendous reading ability, but beyond your interest in reading books that are much more advanced than your "normal" grade level, we've also noticed recently how fast you read. We went to the library last week to sign you up for the summer reading program; and in the next few days, you read about three books each day--and they weren't short little books either!

Another area in which we see your intelligence is in chess. Dad signed you up for online chess, and you find great joy in playing with (and beating!) other kids (and sometimes adults!). You love it when Grandpa plays real chess with you after supper...or when Kevin does...or, of course, when Dad does...or anyone who happens to be around. I rarely play you, although when you were in first grade and taking chess classes in co-op, we did play, and I could beat you. Now I think you would probably win every time. Maybe that's why I don't play you. ;)
3. In the past year, you have improved so much in your speaking ability. We were a little concerned about the way you talked, concerned enough to get you officially evaluated by a speech therapist. She only saw you for a few sessions, but she reassured us about your speaking and gave us some exercises to do with you...which we half-heartedly did...when we remembered! Whether they helped or whether you simply outgrew your speech difficulties, I'm not sure; but I do know that you can, in particular, say words with "r's" in them so much better than you used to be able to do. "Car," "girl," "carrot," "world," etc.--these are so much clearer now. I think the only speech difficulty you have left is with "s"; the way you say it still sounds a little fuzzy, almost like you're saying "sh." But I wouldn't be surprised if even that difficulty resolves itself without too much effort, given a little more time.
4. Your musical ability makes me so happy! Of course, being a musician myself, I had dreams for my children to participate in music; but rather than push you towards that, we simply exposed you to see if it would interest you. It did. During this past school year, I was able to see how beautifully your early music education had prepared you for a variety of musical endeavors. All of it seemed to come together, and the Musikgarten classes you took when you were little influenced your ability in the SVCC classes which prepared you for learning Suzuki violin which goes well with the piano lessons I teach you. I'm not exaggerating when I say that you use your ear so much better than I did when I was your age. Even though I took Suzuki violin lessons when I was a little older than you, I already knew how to read music (because of my mother teaching me how to play piano) so I didn't get the real play-by-ear Suzuki education that you are getting. I'm a little jealous. :) But mostly, I'm just so proud of you for your ability--and pleased that music is something that you enjoy and want to pursue!
5. You have such a tender heart. The night before Dad and I left for the homeschool convention, you were in tears for a long time as you thought about the possibility that something tragic might happen to Dad and I. When you started getting emotional, I talked with you about it while I nursed Shav, then Dad spent quite a bit of time with you in your room as you talked and cried, then I took another turn and laid down beside you to snuggle and reassure you of my forever love for you and God's strong provision for you, even if something happened. We talked about heaven...we talked about guardians...we talked about wills...we talked about a lot of deep stuff. And then, when I thought you were calming down and I could slip away to finish packing, you cried again as you hugged me and weepily exclaimed, "But what if this is the last night I ever see you?" Oh, my tender heart! How I love you!

Another example of your tender heart happened today when you were outside in the backyard and there was a pretty blue robin's egg on the ground. You wanted to show it to Grandma, but David accidentally smashed it. You were heartbroken and cried and cried. You felt so bad for that poor baby robin, and the thought that even if David had not broken it, the robin would not have survived, did little to comfort your grief or diminish your frustration that David had been so careless as to step on it!
6. You are so responsible with and motivated by money! Not only do you get an allowance ($0.10 for each year of your life, so you now get $0.80 each week), you also get an additional $1 each week because of feeding and watering the animals. Plus, Grandpa pays you $0.25 for each book you read; and when you go the barbershop and work there by sweeping up cut hair, you are usually given a few dollars by various barbers for your help. Even with all of those opportunities for earning money, you'd still like to be able to earn more. :) You sometimes come to me and say, "Do you have any jobs I can do for money?" And sometimes I hand you the fly swatter and say, "I'll pay you a penny for each fly you kill." :)

You conscientiously divide your money between what you want to put in the bank, what you want to take to church for the offering, what you want to spend, and a few other projects: like Wycliffe, airplane tickets for our next California trip (whenever that might be!), and even sometimes you set some aside, telling us that it's to help us pay our house payment. :) Even though you love to earn money, you also love to give it, and that's beautiful to see.
7. You have freckles, and I LOVE them--and not just because you probably got them from me! In a comment on this post, Katie mentioned them; and I was so glad she noticed. :) You are the only one of our boys to have freckles--so far, at least--I don't know whether Shav will develop any or not. Sometimes I'll lean close to you and whisper in your ear, "Do you know what I love about you? Your freckles!" I hope you never have to go through the stage of hating them. I hope you always know that they are a very special part of God's unique creation: YOU!

8. As I've thought about you in this stage of your life, the mental image that kept popping up was an arrow planted in the ground like a tree, shooting straight up to the sky. And then, during our potluck, we sang one of your favorites, Ken Medema's "Tree Song," and I realized that imagery is also present in that song! I know at eight years of age, your character is fairly firmly developed--not that you can't change, of course--but in many ways, the direction of your life and personality has already been set. How thankful I am for the ways in which you are a straight arrow, with roots going deep and with branches reaching towards the sky.

It's hard to believe that in only four more years--half the number of years you've already been alive--you'll be 12 and will be entering adolescence. And if I double your age, in only eight more years, you'll be 16. You'll be driving! You'll be going places! You'll be so independent! So tonight, before you get that big, I'm going to tiptoe into your room and lean down and give you another goodnight kiss--just because you're here, just because I can, and just because I can never figure out enough ways to show you how much I love you and how proud I am of you.

My beloved firstborn, I'm crazy about you!

With all my love,


Christie said...


I ran into your blog from another that I follow and just wanted to say what a beautiful post this is. Your love for your child is evident in your writing.

I look forward to following and getting to know your family better!

In Christ,

Sally said...

What a precious son you have! (And he has a priceless mother.)

Margie said...

Oh, what a beautiful letter. He'll treasure this one, Davene. You captured him so perfectly at 8. Freckles, no Thomas, and all.