I hardly know where to begin what I want to say about William.
My first son. He woke me out of the peaceful dream of parenthood that was Kate with a vigor and volume I had not ever known. No more were the 3 hour naps. Gone were the 9:00am late risings.
He was a wild, magical creature that amazed and delighted me.
He also exhausted me. From the moment he arrived–kicking and screaming I might add–he has not settled down.
He taught me how to trust my instincts. He forced me into a world I hadn’t known before. A world of therapists and orthotics and neurologists and cardiologists and worry. And then he taught me about hard work, and commitment and triumph.
As he grew, I appreciated what people meant by the wonderful, dirty dog smell that little boys get when they’ve been outside.
He is the boy that for more than 4 years has said to us, every.single.night., the following words:
“I love you. Night-night. Sit in the chair up here. The one by the door. I love you. Night night.”
Every night, people. Without fail. He was two when this started. T.W.O. It was all about control, you know.
Now, he is so tired at night that he can barely wait until we leave his room to begin his ritual address. And he has told us that when he is seven he will no longer say it. Which honestly, nearly breaks my heart. He says he is “getting tired of it.” But I only recently realized how much I like to hear it.
Before the whole sit-in-the-chair speech, he used to make us sing “The Little Drummer Boy.” Every single night. Several times. Year round. Rum.Pa.Pum.Pum. You know that version by David Bowie and Bing Crosby? (Peace on earth…) He hated that version. It frustrated him. I used to turn the radio up when that version came on and wait to see how long it took him to notice. Just to bother him. Because I’m such a good mother that way.
Of all the children, William is the most emotional. He has the strongest personality. He is also the softest. The most tender hearted. His sometimes demanding personality masks the little boy who is looking for acceptance and encouragement and love.
And his voice…he has the sweetest, raspiest little voice. Except when Ella is sleeping. Then he’s louder than you can imagine.
He has a nose like a bloodhound. He can smell chocolate across the room.
He loves bubble gum.
He loves new jammies.
He loves football.
And the pool.
He loves his daddy.
Today he is seven. Today, he still wakes up, comes downstairs and snuggles into his mom and dad. And lately I’ve just let those moments linger, because I know they aren’t going to last forever. I know that soon enough, he’ll be 8, and then 10 and then 16, and asking for my car. And God help me when that moment arrives.
Being his mother has been the most thrilling, exhausting, frustrating, frightening, joyful time-of-my-life.
Before I had a little boy, I found this quote by Alan Beck. I wondered whether it truely described a little boy accurately. Now I know. This little quote may as well be entitled “William.”
What Is A Boy?
By Alan Beck
Between the innocence of babyhood and the dignity of manhood,
We find a delightful creature called a boy.
Boys come in assorted sizes, weights, and colors,
but all boys have the same cravings.
To enjoy every second of every minute of every hour of every day,
and to protest with noise, their only weapon, when
their last minute is finished and the adult male packs them off to bed at night.
Boys are found everywhere, on top of, underneath, inside of,
climbing on, swinging from, running around or jumping through.
Mothers love them, little girls hate them, older sisters and brothers tolerate them,
adults ignore them and Heaven protects them.
A boy is truth with dirt on his face, beauty with a cut on his finger,
wisdom with bubble gum in his hair,
and the hope of the future with a frog in his pocket.
When you are busy a boy is an inconsiderate, bothersome, intruding jangle of noise,
when you want him to make a good impression his brain turns to jelly,
or else he becomes a savage, sadistic,
jungle creature bent on destroying the world and himself with it.
A boy is a composite.
He has the appetite of a horse, the digestion of a sword swallower,
the energy of a pocket size atomic bomb, the curiosity of a cat,
the lungs of a dictator, the imagination of a Paul Bunyan, the shyness of a violet.
The audacity of a steel trap, the enthusiasm of a firecracker,
and when he makes something, he has five thumbs on each hand.
He likes ice-cream, knives, saws, Christmas, comic books,
the boy across the street, wood, water (in its natural habitat), large animals,
dad, brains, Saturday morning and fire engines.
He’s not much for Sunday School, company, everyday school,
books without pictures, music lessons, neckties, barbers, girls,
overcoats, adults or bedtime.
Nobody else is so early to rise, or so late to supper,
nobody else gets so much fun out of trees, dogs, and breezes.
Nobody else can cram into one pocket, a rusty knife, a half eaten apple,
three feet of string, an empty Bull Durum sack, two gum drops,
six cents, a slingshot, a chunk of unknown substance,
and a genuine super sonic code ring with a secret compartment.
A boy is a magical creature,
you can lock him out of your workshop but you can’t lock him out of your heart.
You can get him out of your study,
but you can’t get him out of your mind.
Might as well give up, he is your captor, your jailer,
your boss and your master.
A freckled face, pint sized,
cat-chasing bundle of noise.
But when you come home at night
with only the shattered pieces of your hope and dreams,
he can mend them like new with two magic words,
Maya Angelou once said “If I have a monument in this world, it is my son.” You are my monument in this world, William.
Happy birthday, little Bill.