My current earworm:
Because, yes, today my Monkey is (sing it with me!) 1 2 3 4 5, 6 7 8 9 10 11 12! (Remember when they only ever counted up to 12 on Sesame Street? It was like numbers higher than that just didn’t matter, or even exist.)
Today we have to start paying full price to take you to the movies. Today you no longer get a kids’ menu. Today we’ll probably start bending a bit when it comes to letting you watch PG-13 stuff, because we started softening when your sister turned 12, but the difference is that you won’t care too much, and if something you watch has even the remotest iota of sexual content, you’ll gag loudly and cover your head to escape it.
Today you say that you feel older, but I have to tell you that such a statement from a dimpled boy in footie pajamas was pretty hard to take seriously. Sorry. I tried not to laugh.
Today you can’t decide where you want to go out for dinner or what you want to do this weekend, exactly, because you want to know where Chickadee wants to have dinner, what Lemur might like to do to celebrate with you. On the good days, you are so concerned about everyone else, ahead of yourself.
Today is a good day.
Today I got up early to make you the cinnamon rolls you asked for, and I got an unexpected surprise when I sent a quick email to Hippie School to ask how many kids were expected today—Teresa mailed back to answer my question, but also to tell me that yesterday you told her something. Yesterday you told her that you don’t hate writing anymore. You think you’re good at it now. Of course, you were always good at it, but last year you assumed you couldn’t do so many things, spent so much timed mired in “I can’t,” that my heart was always breaking. This year you’re learning that you can. You are unfolding into yourself, finding new comfort in your own skin, finally.
Today you are 12. Today I know that you will likely spend many more years—more than some of your peers, yes—in footie pajamas, guileless and wanting little more than for the dog to lick your face until you can’t stop laughing. You’re coming into your own, in your own time, and we’re meeting you where you are. It makes me dizzy; one minute you’re exhorting me to smell your pits (again: no thanks) and the next you want to discuss Prometheus or tell me about how you’re starting a unit on the Harlem Renaissance. And it is all part of you being the exact Monkey you’re meant to be.
Today you kissed me goodbye, and then a minute later you forgot you already had and you kissed me again. Plenty of 12-year-olds never deign to kiss their mothers, you know. Wouldn’t you know I got the very best one?
Happy birthday, Monkey. I hope it’s the best one yet… just like you.