My very favorite moment of my pregnancy with you came when your big sister, Petunia, age 4.5, announced to her pre-K class that her mama was having a baby very soon -- and it was either going to be a girl, or a boy, or a dragon. So we bought a sign for over your door that read "Beyond This Place There Be Dragons" -- you know, just in case, as a warning -- but fortunately, we never needed to hang it there, because you emerged into this world All Boy.
Please note that I did not believe in raising a Pink Girl and a Blue Boy. Your sister's first toy was a workshop, and darned if she didn't want a kitchen anyway and insisted on wearing all pink through the third grade. Your first toy was a soft baseball-player doll, ditched the moment you first laid eyes on Anything With Wheels. Ah, well -- my heart was in the right place!
In all seriousness, you could not be more of a Boy. If it flies, rolls, projects, is loud, dirty, or involves running, jumping, rolling, climbing, diving, death-defying, or stunts that would make a Bond actor jealous, well, you love it. You walked up to me in first grade and said, "You know, they call me Danger Boy." Be still my beating heart. Maybe I did get the dragon after all?
The amazing thing is, though, that you know your limits. You will run like the wind to jump into my arms but decelerate just enough so as not to knock me over, which, at your nearly-60 pounds, you almost can do. The days are approaching when I will not be able to catch those flying leaps anymore, let alone carry you, my last baby. On one level, when that day comes, my heart will break a little; but on another level, I am so proud of how you have grown. You finally eat. That took over seven years to achieve and deserve its own celebration on this day, your eighth birthday.
As you grow, there is so much more that I want to tell you as you transition from being a little boy into being a big boy and eventually into being a young man -- but I am not going to do that this year. I am not going to impart life lessons, make wishes, or share dreams.
No, Dash, this eighth year, I am just going to hold you, for I know that the moment is coming when you will no longer come through the door, crawl into my lap, and lay your head on my chest, with your ear pressed to my heart, and ask: "Does it still say 'love Dash, love Dash, love Dash?'" Those days may be nearing an end, Dash, but know this: my heart always will beat for you and for your sister. You are love embodied. And you are really far from being a dragon -- in fact, as all-boy as you are, you are the kindest, gentlest, sweetest, funniest and smartest boy that I know. I am so lucky to be your mama and will celebrate this day when, eight years ago, Dr. Martin told me "one last push, and you can tell us all if it's a girl, or a boy, or a dragon" -- and he held you up for me to see, and I cried, "It's a BOY!" -- and in that very moment, my life, and my heart, were complete.
Keep growing up just as you are, Danger Boy. You are doing this Boy thing just right. Happiest of birthday wishes to you, son.
Love you up to the burnt-out lights, as you used to say -
Mama xo xo xo xo xo xo xo xo