And Then You Were Eight

In Family by Allison Byxbe

Dear Reed,

When I greeted you on  your birthday and happily announced, “Buddy, you’re 8 today!” you adamantly refused: “I’m 7!” Glad I’m not the only one a little reluctant to admit that you just turned a year older. That you are so much a boy – not a baby or a toddler, but a real, living, breathing, running, playing, elementary-aged boy, that if allowed to rewrite the food pyramid, would make condiments the largest category.

Red hair, blue eyes, smattering of freckles, not the kind that run and blend together, but actually well-defined, ruddy brown dollops, scattered across the bridge of your nose and the tip-tops of your cheeks. Tall, lean torso. Long, dangly legs and arms. Thick wavy, strawberry hair (that I am oh so jealous of). Strong voice, selective hearing, and some of the sweetest, loveliest hugs I could ever imagine embracing from a little boy.

But your smile. It’s the one thing I can’t get over in these pictures. I see you smile big when you play tag with our dogs – literally tapping Jemma on the back, exclaiming “you’re it” before taking off at a full tilt run, and then me watching a bit bemused as those dogs of ours take off after you. I see you smile big when you’re digging in dirt and going on worm hunts. When you get to look at all the pictures on my phone and add about a thousand of your own selfies to the mix. When we turn off the lights and turn up the music – you just absolutely come alive. If you could have a “dark party” every night, I think you’d be over the moon. I see you smile when you get to deconstruct or demo just about anything, especially happily throwing your clean laundry all over the room around 5 a.m. (which I’m convinced will always be your rise and shine time) while the rest of us are sleeping. I see you smile when we sit swinging in the swing your daddy built on the front porch of our house. That smile, lifted just a little higher on the left, wide and toothy, this is how I’ll picture you, wonderfully eight years old and full of life, with the widest, best smile I know.

I see you. And I love you. And I’m not sure how I got so lucky to be your mom. I love you now and always, buddy.