He turns nine today, the cherub baby with the big blue eyes. In the short twenty months before her brother was born, Audrey had already worn a path through some of the tidy and trim ideas I had about parenting. Oh, the privileges of the second born! His delivery was fast, held up only by the doctor's late arrival. On a Saturday by 10 a.m., I had him in my arms, and for many months to come, I'd hold him, that perfect baby with the rounded cheeks and fair skin. But the memories of his firsts blur at the edges. I can't remember his first tooth, how he learned to crawl, or when he took his first steps, only that eighteen months later, his little sister, Camille was born, and there'd be much more I'd forget.
The birthday themes of years past capture the steady advancing of the years, and this nine year old boy grown too big to kiss his mother: Veggie Tales, Toy Story, Construction Zone, Cars, Star Wars, Football.
Last week, we had parent-teacher conferences, and I happened to bump into his gym teacher, whom I'd heard was desperate to have Nathan try out for the school basketball team, which he himself would be coaching.
"I'm Jen Michel, Nathan's Michel's mom." I stick out my hand.
"NA - tan?" he repeats, mentally scanning student faces and searching for the Nathan to whom I'm referring. His French accent is thick.
"Oh! NA-tan Mee-SHELL, grade 4? Oh, NA-tan." And his eyes grow big, and he begins gesturing energetically. "NA-tan eez so dEE-na-MEEK and energetic. He eez VERY skeeled. Oh yes, I want heem to play basketball for zee team!"
And he raves on about Nathan's quickness and agility, and I'm a proud mama.
Nine years old today: each moment a gift collected and treasured.