Now that you're ten there's a whole new world that is yours and yours alone. For the first time, I think, there are moments when we don't know exactly where you are, and the freedom works wonders for us all. You ride your bike to school and come home by yourself, remembering to call me on the way sometimes, but mostly not. And we grow, both you and I.
Now that you're ten there are calls from teachers who think you talk to much and work to little, and we talk again and again about school and respect and attitude and hard work. And when you fall asleep and all the frustration and anger and disappointment that you've suffered in the day washes away, then we look at you and stroke the sweaty hair from your forehead and say to each other the understatement of a lifetime: Yeah, he's alright.
God, we're so proud of you.
Now that you're ten you still like us to read to you at night and sometimes we get frustrated and tell you to do it yourself, that we need to focus on the little ones, that you're big enough and go to bed already. And sometimes there are tears and we are all so tired, so tired.
Now that you're ten you're a big brother in a way that I thought was only for movies and Hallmark cards. And you know it too, how your love for this tiny new person in our life is almost tangible. How you held her for the first time and almost couldn't breathe, couldn't move, how you bowed your head over her tiny face, silent. After all my worries about rocking your boat forever.
God, I'm so proud of you.
Now that you're ten friends matter, but you still go your own way a lot, thinking your own thoughts. (Though some of the language you try on at home I prefer to think comes from someone else.) You still want to be a marine biologist when you grow up, though just someone who plays the computer all day would be great too. Mom, is that a job? Yes, my love, it is.
Now that you're ten you still don't like vegetables.
Now that you're ten you can read and write and has had your first cavity. You like to be hugged, as long as noone from school is looking, and if I'm really really good you'll rub my shoulders for five minutes. You like to be outdoors once you're there, you like to explore and pretend to be all kinds of things. You have a club with some girls in your class where you pretend to be wolfs and write a magazine about how to best catch raindeers and other good hunting advice (for wolves). Your favourite book is Wolf Brothers by Michelle Paver. Your favourite gift this morning was a Wii (that was in fact your only gift), you have been begging for it for months (years?). You have asked for fried chicken and chocolate for dinner and your dad is preparing it right now. Now that you're ten you are even more you, even more... more.
Now that you're ten, I look at you and sometimes catch a glimpse of myself somewhere around the mouth or over your forehead, something, somewhere. And the person you are and the people you came from and the one you'll be one day are all there together, like a really lovely cocktail party going on and on and on. And I look at your dad and I look at myself and I think MAN, we did good.
God, we're so proud of you.