Last but Not Least

The smells. The stinch. The noise. The sheer volume of it. That’s how I will forever remember Ivan’s 7th birthday. We finished the festivities with a sleepover. There were only 4 boys playing xBox, but when I opened the door it smelled like a dirty laundry basket. When I wanted them to take their noise outside, Keith wanted them inside as to not disturb our neighbors. It was a lose-lose situation. Meaning, I lost all the way around.

Since it’s the last one of birthday season, we dragged it out more than the others. He had to wait the longest, so it seemed fair, which is so often not the same.

And he got an extra cake.

He’s the only one I address as “Son” when I get really frustrated. The other 2 laugh and ask me why. I’m not sure. Maybe it’s to keep me from calling him something less endearing or profane. Because it’s he who pushes me to the limit. Daily. He’s also the one I typically warn. It’s usually something like, “I’m getting really angry, and I’m about to scream. I suggest you take the disobedience out of my sight.” Before I strangle you, I think to myself.

That seems like too many words to use when dealing with a child, but he pushes me beyond angry. Beyond enraged. I get into the Scary Calm Zone. You know what I’m talking about. Your voice, involuntarily, lowers to a whisper. The serenity that surpasses me is unnatural. Divine. It’s God’s intervention in order to save a life. His or mine. Depends on the day.

I speak slowly and softly as I recount the recent events that led to the present and what his future entails if he doesn’t do exactly as I say.

But before he can even comprehend the weight of the situation that he’s put himself in, he’s flitting about, gathering up and taking out the trash, without being asked…and putting a new bag in the container. Or visiting his daddy’s office to offer a water refill. Or doing cartwheels or spins in the middle of a room.

He is a happy kid. And, unless he’s being provoked by another child, he is content. A sweet snuggler. He is a servant. A lover of all living (and, honestly, even non-living) creatures. He is innately aware of the needs of those around him. Intuitive. He is a jokester. He is also really good at disassembling (i.e. breaking) things.

I try my hardest not to let his actions define him. But it’s hard on some days.

“God, help me to see him as your child, not mine,” I pray.

It helps. Usually.

Happy birthday, Ivan. Sweet One.