I’m not ready, but you didn’t ask me

By Mir
January 4, 2008

Attention Young Master Monkeypants:

Today is your birthday. You are eight whole years old! That is—as your sister solemnly informed you a month or so back—the beginning of being a tween. From there you’ll become a teenager, and from there it’s off to college and a life that in all likelihood does not include snuggling your mother at every possible opportunity. I cannot say that I approve of this progression, but I am trying to deal with it.

This is the first time in the 9-and-a-half years since I became a parent that I am not with one of my kids on their birthday. You are still hanging out at your dad’s house, and I’ll see you tomorrow. You’re having a great time. I know this because when I called you this morning your voice practically vibrated with the pride of having managed to live eight years. You informed me that the biggest difference was that you were finding it more difficult to talk in a baby voice.

The very next sentence, you used your baby voice. (You’re such a trooper!)

I am surprised at how difficult this is for me, and I’ll even admit to feeling a bit of sympathy for your dad, today, now that I’ve had a taste of what it probably feels like for him a lot of the time. Last night I dreamt that you arrived home with a buzz cut; your father is always joking about shaving that mop off of your head, and in my dream you surprised me with “Daddy cut my hair!” After close to a year of struggling with this whole “growing out your hair” thing, in my dream I beheld your shorn head and burst into tears, completely inconsolable.

Psssssst! Monkey? I love your long hair.

It’s weird and moppy and unkempt and utterly, precisely you. I love that it tickles you when someone mistakes you for a girl. I love that you’ll laugh even harder when I offer to trim your eyelashes with the kitchen shears, just to make you look a little more manly. I love that all of your friends have short hair and when they ask you why you want yours long you just shrug and say, “I dunno. I just do.”

You are becoming your own dog, kid. That’s pretty neat to watch. Today, sure, it’s hair, maybe for no reason at all. But tomorrow, who knows? You’ll pick your own path, that’s for sure.

I love that you are unselfconscious in trotting out your big vocabulary and powers of deduction. You hadn’t been at your aunt and uncle’s house for more than ten minutes when you listened to something your uncle said and countered, “You’re using sarcasm. Very funny!” Five minutes later, it was, “Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s a rhetorical question. You already KNOW the answer!”

When you’re feeling a bit anxious in a social setting, you’ll start blurting out math facts, Rainman-style, as a way to bolster your confidence. Maybe we can work on you doing that in your head, instead, but I’m sure I’ll miss the spontaneous declarations such as “One quarter plus one quarter equals one HALF. That’s FRACTIONS!”

Yesterday as Otto and I ran various errands, we went over to the sporting goods store and got you some new gear for soccer. You endured two seasons wearing baseball socks because I’m athletically retarded and didn’t know any better, but because I love you (and because the elastic is shot in those socks, now), this next season you’ll have real live soccer socks. I also got you some new shin guards, as your spindly little calves did decide to grow a little this year. None of these things are going to make you any better at playing soccer, and heaven knows you are not exactly World Cup material, but you love it all. “I’m getting better!” you assert cheerfully. You high-five your teammates and run around happily, unbothered by the fact that your enthusiasm far outruns your ability.

Your essential nature as a sponge of compassion hasn’t changed, despite the various overlays of events and emotion that sometimes obscure it. One day you came home from school with a furrowed brow. “Mama,” you said with a heavy sigh, “I am very worried about Phil.” [Phil sits next to you in class right now.] “He doesn’t have very good self-esteem.” I bit the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing, so dire was your countenance. “He always says he can’t do things, and I think his attitude is keeping him down. What can we do to help him?” My guess is that just being near you is helping him a lot, sweet boy.

Today when I asked you what sort of cake I should have ready for you tomorrow, you told me to make vanilla with vanilla frosting, because that’s what Chickadee likes. When I reminded you that it’s YOUR birthday and YOU can choose, you said, “Well, I’m having chocolate with chocolate, here. You should make what she likes for home.” And then I reached right through the phone and gobbled you up, because that sort of matter-of-fact sweetness cannot go unnibbled.

Have a wonderful birthday today! You’ll always be my baby, even if you are getting too big. I suspect that 8 is truly going to be a great year for you, and not just because it rhymes. Though I’m sure you’ll be reminding me about the rhyming part.

I’m just going to apologize right now for kissing you too much tomorrow.

See you soon! I have a big rock all wrapped up for your birthday present, too! (Yes, yes, I can hear you. “You are making a joke. You would NEVER actually just give me a rock. I’d probably cry.”)



  1. crockpot lady

    Happy Birthday, Monkey!

  2. Marissa

    Happy Birthday Monkey!!

    That post has left me with tears in my eyes, what a sweet sweet boy.

  3. Lori

    Happy Birthday Monkey! Eight is indeed a great and important birthday – I was informed by my own kidling #1 when she reached that all important milestone 3 weeks ago.

    Mir — Happy Labor Day to you too!

  4. Leandra

    Awww. That’s TWICE today someone has made me cry with a sweet post! Happy Birthday, Monkey.

  5. Zuska

    Sniffle, sniffle. Made all the more sniffly because SO MANY of Monkey’s actions and words and perceptions are replicated in my house by my soon-to-turn-8 boy.

    Happy birthday, Monkey!!

  6. daysgoby

    Oh, Monkeyman. You sweet thing.

    Happy Birthday to you!

  7. Brian

    Dear Mir,

    I had stopped reading your blog for a while when I no longer had access to a daily internet connection (I know…I live in the dark ages). I have recently begun reading again. Thank you for today’s entry. I am going to be a father for the first time in three months and I am already looking at the world in a different way. I can’t begin to imagine the love you have for your children, but I think I am beginning to understand. Your post today made me think of my mother because I am also her “baby.” Trust me on this one, the snuggling may decrease as he gets older, and he may roll his eyes when you say something like “you’ll always be my baby”, but I promise that inside, he will cherish it. Have a great day and enjoy it when you see him tomorrow.

  8. tori

    Happy Birthday to your sweet Monkey! My twins are turning 8 in May, and I feel like your son and mine are so similar they would either drive each other completely crazy or be the best of friends. The world needs sweet boys like ours! You are a great mom!

  9. All Adither

    Hurray! HBD Monkey. He sounds like a gleaming little gem.

  10. RuthWells

    Oh snif.

  11. RuthWells

    Or, you know, snifF.

  12. Heather

    Aw, he sounds like such an amazing kid! Happy Birthday, Monkey!

  13. Amy-Go

    Happy birthday Monkey! Kiss your Mama eight times tomorrow.

  14. prophet

    sigh. . . . You saw all the way through. Well done. Thank you!

  15. Aimee

    Awwww! Happy Birthday, Monkey!!! I hope that EIGHT is SUPER-GREAT!

  16. Kristi


    Hope you make it through this day and hope Monkey makes it through all the smothering kisses you’re bound to bestow on him. Happy Birthday, Monkey!

  17. E

    Happy birthday Monkey!

    (and 8 is a tween? OMG – that makes my baby not a baby anymore!)

  18. Genevieve

    Happy birthday, sweet Monkey boy!
    As the mother of an almost-eight-year-old, I’m getting in all the snuggles while I can. I keep getting nostalgic in advance, so I understand you, Mir.

  19. Melissa

    Awww, happy birthday Monkey! My birthday is today too, although I’m slightly older than eight.

  20. dad

    Truly touching!

    Don’t forget to give Monkey extra kisses and snuggles from us.
    All of us “youngest kids” with large vocabularies understand love real good.

  21. The Other Jamie

    Happy 8th, Monkey! What a beautiful letter, Mir!

  22. Sara

    Brilliant post, Mir. Happy birthday, Monkey!

  23. MomCat

    Happy Birthday to the Monkey! May his bananas always ripen and his vines never snap! :)

  24. MomCat

    Oh and, Monkey? You already know this, but, your Mom is an amazing writer! Love and cherish her for all of us.

  25. Kendra

    Happy day Monkey!

    I too have an 8 yo that sounds skarily (a word, really!) like your Monkey, and from the comments it sounds like there are a lot more sweet, smart 8 yo boys out there. I wonder what that means for 20 years from now when they are starting to rule the world?

  26. Burgh Baby's Mom

    Happy Birthday, Monkey! And Happy 8th Anniversary of the Day You Birthed Monkey, Mir!

  27. Megan

    Beautiful. My own Male Child is far older than eight, nothing but legs and arms, but yes, is still sweet and thoughtful and does enjoy cuddling – although it’s difficult these days since there’s so MUCH of him. They do get better and better these Children. Happy Birthday Monkey.

  28. kailani

    Big buckets o’tears! Happy, HAPPY Birthday Monkey! You’re an amazing kid who deserves to be nibbled and gobbled. You have a houseful of love. Get down and ROLL in it!

  29. StephLove

    Happy Birthday, Monkey!

    Oh, and eight is NOT a tween. I know because it’s impossible that I will have a tween in a year and a half. And that’s final (in my best stern Mama voice).

  30. The Mom Bomb

    Happy B-Day Monkey! Keep on snugglin’ . . .

  31. Kristy

    how sweet! Happy Birthday Monkey!

  32. Vane

    Happy Birthday Monkey!

    I too have a sweet 8 yo, although, it’s a girl and I bet she would be thrilled to be friends with such a sweet boy.

    Beautiful letter and congratulations to you too on being such a great mom.

  33. arduous

    Happy Birthday Monkey!!

  34. jennielynn

    OOOhhhhh! I am all teary. 8 is a big birthday. Happy Birthday, Monkey-boy.

    And Mama, I feel for you. Drama Queen actually asked to spend her twelfth birthday with her dad and though I was cheerful and arranged it, it broke my heart. You are far nicer than I am though, because I have NO sympathy for him at all!

  35. Trevor's Mommy

    This is my first comment to you though I’ve been reading your blog every day since I came across it several months ago! I just love your brand of humor, Mir! But I must tell you that I’m very glad that I forgot to wear mascara today, because I am sitting here at my desk in tears, hoping that no one will walk by. My own little monkey will be eight 4 years and 2 weeks from tomorrow, and it is so hard to imagine him transformed into a grown-up boy! My only hope is that he stays sweet and caring like your son has! Happy 8th Birthday, Monkey!

  36. juliness

    Aww, Mir, very sweet. You made get all sloppy and teary.

    (Thankfully I’ve not yet put on mascara today otherwise I’d be kind of ticked off right now.)

  37. Bronie

    *sniff* this was a fantastic post, and that’s quite a sweet boy you’re raising! well done! my kids tend to argue over breathing the same air and i highly doubt the other’s cake preference would EVER be considered. what a fantastic, witty, bright kid he is! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  38. Tress

    I don’t know you, but it was a little ooky reading all the fantastical,surprising qualities Monkey possesses just at the moment I was thinking about all the fantastical, surprising qualities my OWN 8-year-old-as-of-two-days-ago possesses. I mean ooky in the most complementary and super way. The sweetness, the brainiac vocabulary, the unguarded enthusiasm for a sport that is just not exactly looking like scholarship material…other than the fact that mine’s a girl, they are almost the same child!

    Except they’re not. Enjoy your fabulous 8 year old boy and happy BIRTHday to you!

  39. Hamiam

    Ooooh, my heart twinged with the sweetness of a mother’s love for her somewhat eccentric, VERY special child. And hurt a bit for pretty Mir who is missing her boy today.

    Happy B’day Monkey. You sound so much like my LMNOB.

  40. el-e-e

    MAN, that was a good one.

    Happy Birthday to Monkey!

  41. Amy Lou

    Happy 1/2 x 16, Monkey!!

  42. sumo

    Years ago my wife was giving my mom a bit of grief for still referring to my 6-ish year old niece as “the baby”. My mom informed us that until my niece was born, my brother had still been the baby. This cleared up a lot of things for me.

  43. Em

    I think its funny he’s proud of HIMSELF for living 8 years when everyone knows, who did the real work there! The running catches, the late nights, the peering around corners for possible danger.

    Which cartoon is it when the baby is wandering through a construction site and the other character (Bugs Bunny?) keeps taking anvils and shovels to the head while he tries to keep the blissfully unaware baby from falling or being hurt? That is parenthood to me and why I am usually more proud of myself when they make it through another year. And probably why you get headaches.

    So Happy Birthday, sweet Monkey! And another year of a job well done, Mir!

  44. Ree

    Go, Monkey Go!

    Happy Birthday.

  45. Loth

    Sniffle. My own Monkey turns 8 in April. Unless I can find a way to stop him before then. Lovely post, Mir.

  46. amy

    Happy Birthday Monkey!!!

  47. Marie


  48. elswhere

    Aw. Happy birthday, Monkey. And happy first day of being a parent of two tweens, Mir.

  49. chris

    Happy Birthday, Monkey!!!
    What a perfect and fitting birthday tribute for him. If you hadn’t gobbled him up when he made the cake comment I would have tracked him down and gobbled Monkey myself.

  50. David

    Goodness, everybody and their brother has already said this, but who am I to pass up such a nice bandwagon. Awww. :-)

  51. kidzmama

    Okay, it’s not midnight yet.

    Happy Birthday sweet Monkey!

    You are an amazing young man that will soar in this life.

  52. elizabeth

    Happy Birthday Monkey!

  53. Single Ma

    Awww. Happy Birthday Monkey!!

  54. Half-Past Kissin' Time

    Beautiful kid. Beautiful mom. Beautiful family. Life is good.

  55. transplanting me

    happy birthday, monkey!

    from a mom of a boy who is currently eight, it is a wonderful year.

  56. Brigitte

    Aw, you made me want to snuggle Monkey when I’ve never even met the kid (and he will be retroactively creeped out when he reads this stuff when he’s grown-up)! :-)

  57. Julie Stiles Mills

    I don’t want to bum you out, but depending on how big he is and how strong you are, you may be getting to that day. You know, that day when you picked him up and carried him for the last time. That day we never know is that day when it’s actually happening, but later wonder when it was. I was lucky enough to journal that day for my son, and I can still pick up my daughter. Don’t miss it! He may be eight today, but don’t blink or he’ll be 18 and be able to carry you! It happens SO FAST! I keep pushing my kids on the top of the head and saying “Stop Growing!” but it doesn’t work.

  58. Lori

    I wish you lots and lots of year of hugs and cuddles with your son. My almost 18yo still gives me hugs every day and I am a very thankful and lucky mom.

  59. Kelly

    Awww Happy birthday Monkey! Darn kids, they grow soo fast!

  60. mama speak

    Happy B-Day Monkey!

    I hope you have saving all of this for him when he’s a parent and his child is turning 8. Your writing is such a wonderful gift.

  61. Haley-O

    So sweet!
    Happy Birthday to your Monkey!

  62. Lady M

    Happy Birthday, Monkey!

    I’m glad you were able to take a bit of a break over the holidays.

    I wish I had you powers of hyperbole to describe the crazy rainstorms we’re having here in northern California right now. It’s not bad compared to snowstorms I remember in NY, but trees are falling over and supposedly 100,000 people are without power.

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