Last night I watched you fall asleep, clutching your big red Clifford, your face hidden under the mop of blond hair that we've let grow long this summer, Quinto cuddled up close next to you. You were so excited about your birthday that I thought you'd never fall asleep, but you drifted off quickly and I lay there trying to process the fact that you would be seven years old today.
Seven years old. It's the the tiredest phrase in the parental lexicon, isn't it--but I'll be damned if it doesn't feel so painfully true that it seems like only yesterday that you were born, at 5:42 pm at Touro hospital, during an episode of Seinfeld (sorry, I needed the distraction). You cried for a moment and then you settled into my arms and we watched each other and you were perfect, of course. You fit perfectly.
At 7, you are still a tiny person; I can still pick you up, and Sydney can still carry you around on her back. You love to play soccer and at some point over the past year the Jesters coaches started referring to you as "Bossman," which is hilarious and adorable. I love watching you strut onto the field in the team jersey you won during a World Cup party. This year you started taking ballet, and ohmygod do I love watching you dance. As I expected, you have a natural, graceful strength, and you love dancing and performing. You adamantly deny this, but I suspect that you also love being the only boy in class (oh, how those little girls adore you).
First grade was a tough year for you; you're one of the younger kids in class and you struggled with learning to read, and with the demands of being in a large class (32 kids!) with 2 teachers and so much going on all the time. We had some homework tears, and you started to say things like "I'm not good at school" and "I'm not smart," which broke my heart. But we developed some tactics and you hung in there. I won't forget the night I walked into your room and found you reading a Magic Tree House book all by yourself--you were so proud. I was, too.
At 7, you are opinionated and outspoken, mischievous and silly. You ninja fight and sing pop songs with your sisters. You have zero tolerance for bullshit and have become quite particular about the kids you will hang out with (for the record, this is perfectly fine with me). If a kid lies, you want nothing to do with him. If a kid teases, no way. Your best friend is still James, your first friend, and when the two of you get together it's like you have a secret language. He's more rough-and-tumble than you, but I think you like that, and the fact that you can be your sensitive self with him and he will respond to it. Your other best friend is Ben, with whom you share a love of all things electronic, and a sweet sensitivity. You love your friends completely and intensely, and talk about them constantly when they're not with you. You would do anything for them and to defend them. True to your sign, you have the heart of a lion: noble and fierce.
A few weeks ago you had a nightmare about "a lady with one black hand and one white hand who was trying to take me away" and since then, you don't like to be alone anywhere. Not in the bathroom, not upstairs when everyone is downstairs and vice versa, and certainly not at night when it's time to go to sleep. You insist that someone lay with you while you fall asleep and most nights I internally resist--I'm so tired, I have work left to do, I haven't had dinner yet--but I love those moments. You have a gajillion blankets and stuffed animals piled on your bed and we snuggle into them and your little hand--still padded with the last remnants of baby fat--finds mine in the dark and you whisper "I love you, Mama" and Evan, there is nothing I love more than this. I know that I can't protect you from everything, but I can love you with everything I have, with every part and piece of me; I can help you navigate a world that isn't always open to sensitive boys; I can listen to you, laugh with you, laugh at you, wipe your tears, kiss your booboos, and pick you up when you're too tired to walk. While I can still pick you up.
If you're reading this years from now and rolling your eyes at my sappy sentimentality, just let it be known that your Mama loves every inch of you and is just having the best time watching you grow up. Thank you for bringing so much sweetness and fun into my life, for telling silly jokes, for those amazing hugs, for your stubborn insistence which reminds me of my own. Thank you for choosing us. There is no greater gift than you, Evie.