Boyhood. It is, you know. The stage we are in right now with my middle son, the one that is a year and a half younger than his older brother and always tries to keep up though has felt far behind for many years. Until now. It must be hard to never be the one to be first, not in a theoretical sort of way, but just pure logistics. Any privilege filters through the older brother and though its’ within reach, it comes feeling like a hand-me-down so often. He’s not a complainer though and he seems to take much in stride and lately, his stride has quickened. Full speed ahead.
Boyhood. I can’t quite put my finger on this confidence that he wears as a badge of honor, but it is as clear and bright as his wide smile and sea blue eyes. Perhaps being eight years old spawns a combination that makes him feel invincible. Perhaps it was his extraordinary teacher this year, he came home brimming with tales and beautiful poetry. Perhaps it was a few newfound friendships that were born separate from the overshadowing big brother. Perhaps it was his participation in karate or even Odyssey of the Mind, an awesome outside school activity. Likely a combination, but also the birth of an intrinsic self-worth and a new recognition of his own lovely value.
Boyhood. My husband has always said that Russell cares the littlest about what people think of him than anyone he has ever met. It’s true. A truth that has been around since he could talk and articulate his specifications for how the world works in his little boy mind. While he has grown more savvy as he gets older and may ask questions rooted in a tinge of uncertainty, he is not really phased by his unusual choices and this magnificent showing of self-confidence never belittles another.
Boyhood. His best buddy at the beach is a lovely girl about the same age and though her long dark hair is in sharp contrast to his short blond, they roam our small village (condominium complex) and spend inordinate amounts of time wallowing in the surf. He voices this unusual friendship but is quick to shrug off the teasing with words about having things in common, being the same age and loving the ocean. If he is not in his bathing suit, you will always find him in a collared shirt and khaki shorts; those who know him well are aware that t-shirts make him feel like he is, “going to vomit.” His favorite color is purple and though he knows this is not standard, he can’t help that he loves all things purple, particularly grapes and Popsicles.
Boyhood. I have heard him telling his older brother that he, Russell, is quite popular at school and that he can’t have any more friends. He went on to clarify the popularity is rooted in his intelligence; “I am really smart and people like smart.” You would think people wouldn’t like people who announce that they are smart. Amazingly, it is said with such authority and absent of boasting, that even his older brother nods his head in humor but doesn’t protest this evident truth. It’s just pure honesty and people, I have found too, adore honesty.
Boyhood. I marvel every day at the nuances he reports, the queries that tumble forth when we are ducking the waves, and the theories he shares aloud as he puts together, rudimentary building on stage. If hurt, he cries and is furious but within a few hot tears, he is belly laughing his forgiveness. Ghost crab hunting, nerf gun wars, catching minnows, and circling surfers in his kayak are all framed by his daily exuberance for life and all that it has to offer. Building playmobil colonies on the back porch with his little sister or engaging in a spirited game of hide and seek with his little brother provide a glimpse into a soul that is amazingly kind and true.
Boy Power. He reminds me so much of the boy that shared his name and in my world, hung the sun and the moon and the stars. The older brother that always had time for his tagalong sister and welcomed her into his hemisphere; the hours we spent in the ocean were never logged and the memories have flowed together much like the incoming tide but I remember how he made me feel and the surge of love I had for him, the very essence of Boy Power.
Happy birthday, my son.