Yesterday, my first born son turned nine years old. And if ever I am inclined towards cliches, birthdays are ripe with opportunity. Because how can you not, at the passing of another year, remark how very quickly it goes? How can you not proclaim how it feels like just yesterday that he was taking his first steps and speaking his first words?
And yet, it doesn't feel like yesterday at all because I can't bring up the memories with the precision I so desperately desire. I want to rewind so that I can remember clearly each phase, each age, each stage. Because the truth is, I just can't remember what he was like as he was toddling about. I have no strong associations with who he was when he was five.
Today, however, this freshly minted nine year old boy, is earnest and honest. He is a people pleaser to his core, who is prone to quiet tears when he is reprimanded or punished. He is easily frustrated, which is broadcasted with a shushing sound he makes that drives his mother absolutely bonkers. His prayers go on and on, thanking God for the air we breathe and the water we drink, for the food on the table and the sun in the sky. We all listen on, trying to muster his level of gratitude while also wishing he would wrap things up before the food goes cold.
He wants to be good, strives for it with his whole being. Our pickiest eater, he is always the fastest to suggest a food documentary of school afternoons when I am eager for a break. He wants the facts so he can make better decisions. He listens to the words and he applies them despite personal preference. Like I said, he is so damn earnest.
And he is charming. Before knowing Gus, I thought that being funny was a necessary component of charm, but I have learned that it can exist without it. Although he has memorized a few jokes he recites with ease and the perfect amount of theatricality, he is too literal for sarcasm and I doubt that he has inherited his father's propensity towards hunor so edgy as to be completely misunderstood by most folks.
Gus has, however, has been trying on goofiness for size, but I think it's a product of age more than personality. I am certain it is a passing phase. Augustus is serious. He likes to talk to people. He is good at listening. When the older lady who lives on our street calls him over to voice not so subtle complaints, he leaves the conversations perplexed, scratching his sun streaked hair. "I think I liked talking to her," he will tell me. He enjoys all conversation, regardless of content. He cannot fathom that some conversations are actually unpleasant.
As the clock nears four each afternoon, he starts counting down till he can run down the hill to find his friends. He has a difficult time entertaining himself. He would much rather pass his hours outside with a gang of other children. He is a natural leader. Sena gets upset that he wins every election held among the neighborhood kids.
If I don't pay attention, he will wear the same outfit for days on end, once bragging this summer that he wore the same shorts for eight days straight.
He never complains when I ask him to take out trash, recycling or compost. I never have to remind him to put his plate in the dishwasher. He is good with his little sister, but he is even better with his baby cousin Jettie Blythe, maybe because she is easier to break into smile.
My main complaint with my blue eyed boy who has taken on a Southern Maryland so strong that it often takes me aback, is that he torments his three year old brother far too often and his older sister only slightly less often. But truth be told, I have no fears about the person my Gus will become.