Last weekend, my son Dash turned seven years old, and he's still not in juvie. Let's all take a moment to kiss the ground and thank Jesus.
Kidding, kidding. Dash would never end up in juvie because, bless his heart, he behaves, generally speaking. He doesn't punch or kick or hit or fight, except in Kung Fu when he's supposed to punch and kick and hit and fight. He doesn't talk back, and he doesn't swear (much). (Ahem.) He tries to be sly, but he cannot. It is not in his heart to pull a prank without telling you first. Like tonight, when he asked to hug me, with a twinkle in his eye, and I asked: "Dash, is this a love hug, or is this a nefarious hug?" He seriously replied, in a deep voice, "Never, never is it a nefarious hug. It's always a love hug. But I was going to fart on you, too."
See, that's the thing: the kid has a sense of humor, AND he uses words like "nefarious." (I know; I had to look it up, too.) Kid is smart. No, kid is wicked smahhht. He talks, nonstop, about everything, and it's mostly accurate. He can tell you more about World War II than I can, and I have an American history degree that cost my parents a small fortune. He can distinguish among 50 fighter jets and tell you in which theater they were used. He knows about Greek gods and Roman gods, Atlantis and the Bermuda Triangle and who went missing there and when, the Mayans and the Incans, the Confederacy and the Union and why he'd have joined the latter. He speaks French with his phys ed teacher, just for fun. (He doesn't actually know French beyond the few phrases he's picked up from his sister and me, but that's beside the point.)
And in case you haven't picked it up yet, kid is exhausting.
Dash runs hard, plays harder, and loves hardest of anyone I've ever met. When he hugs you, even with farts, you feel it in your soul. Nothing in the world matters to him in that moment other than that hug, and those hugs are among his only stopping points in a day -- a moment when he says, "yep, I'm still on earth, real and connected to this person" ... right before he gets back to "and now, I'm taking off again, seeking another adventure."
And the joy -- oh, the joy! -- in this little boy... I haven't the words for it. I have never met a more joy-filled person in my entire life. He smiles from his eyes to his ears to his nose to his mouth to his fingers and toes and whole body, and then he whips one of his arms around windmill-style as he runs off to spread the smile to the far corners of the earth, or at least the playground, at warp-speed. He is SO happy, almost all of the time. And when it's that other fraction of time, you know it, and he quakes, but he resets so fast that no one knows what happened. The greatest joy in his life appears to be any time spent with big sister Petunia. They have this communication system worked out between their big, huge brown eyes that is wordless and loving beyond measure and generally up to no good. The two of them together might end up in juvie; I'm not ruling that out. But they also might cure cancer together, because that's how they roll. In fact, they plan to open a veterinary practice out of our Vermont home, where Dash has an ingenuous system worked out that involves him mooching off of his vet-sister while he raises his six adopted sons with no wife, because he doesn't need one, plus I'll help him, he says. (Ummm...) In any event, this vet practice also involves pulleys to lift horses up to the second floor, where Dash and his six sons will sleep with them just to keep an eye out. It has to be the second floor so they can't escape, in case you were worried. At least he gave his sister the first-floor master, but she also has the alligators -- you know, because they're a common pet in Vermont. Like I said, kid is ... smart. And only seven.
In any event, looking back at this past year of Dash's life, I find myself wondering where it all went, first and foremost... and then I remember the highlights, things like him pretending not to enjoy Irish dance in kindergarten (but oh, he did!)... his first coach-pitch baseball team and how much he loved playing the "hot corner" (that's 3rd base to the rest of us)... visiting Hogwarts Castle with him at Universal Florida's Wizarding World of Harry Potter last spring, and his general love of all things HP... his week at VINS science camp in Vermont and how much he fell in love with the mudslide there... so many lost teeth... his first trip to Disneyland this winter (Indiana Jones! Star Wars! Heaven!)... reading and reading and reading some more because there's just. so. much. to. learn....and the list could go on and on. There have been oh so many joy-filled moments that my heart could just burst, because there's one little boy smack in the middle of it all with a big, huge smile on his adorable tooth-deprived face.
He still doesn't eat well, he still goes a hundred miles an hour, he can still be stubborn as a mule, and he still can disarm me with just a giggle. He's my sweet boy Dash, and he's seven. I can't believe it.
And Dash? Thanks for making my heart sing again every day. You are sheer joy, and I'll always love you up to the burnt-out lights. (He made that up. I love it.) xo Mama