I got up this morning and crawled into (smooshed into?) bed with Ennis for a cuddle.
He’s a whole 5th grader. He’s only got about two inches max before he comes up level with me (though since he seems to only be stretching up I’ve got a good thirty pounds on him). He doesn’t wake up super early anymore. He hangs out in his room listening to music after supper. He wears a retainer. He responsibly walks the dog on his own.
But snuggling up to him was a sort of portal: the hair is longer and the knees are knobbier, but I could feel the same small kid that I grew and raised and kept alive for years and years.
It’s a strange prize, to have a pretty independent child who can (often) self-motivate, or at least self-entertain: good job investing your time and energy and love into the most beautiful thing you know– now watch it from afar.
It’s not really like that. But it’s puzzling: what does it mean to mother an eleven-year-old human? What does it mean to enjoy my own independence and space and freedom? And is it really ok to not be vigilant about electrical outlets and consistent bedtimes and sugar intake– or did I just get lazy and run out of steam?
In the last twenty-four hours he has both peed on a dumpster (Why?? “I dunno.”), and asked me insightful questions about the patriarchy and how it shows up in language.
It seems crazy, inconsistent, so wild– and then I look at myself and my own feelings. (Today alone I used the phrases “death on a wind-battered moor” and “unceasing sleet” to describe my internal landscape).
So, I think he’s pretty honest. He’s really real. And even with those preteen knees, he’s the coolest human– and the best snuggler– I know.