In just a few weeks, my now six year old will turn seven. I am not one of those moms who mourn their children growing older. I can’t, simply because of circumstance. I celebrate the milestones, the independence, the sheer miracle of a child growing up. What a blessing.
I also savor the fleeting nature of childhood, knowing that it is not a given or something to be taken for granted. If you have a healthy, developing child, you did it — you won the lottery of life! Hooray!
As six morphs into seven, I wanted to take a few moments to remember those things about my boy being six that I have treasured. What an amazing age, full of curiosity, willfulness, stretching, and the wee glimpse of separation that will be his task to come in the next few years.
Six is still about unmitigated affection. The spigot of hugs and kisses is still flowing freely. You cuddle me at night, even though you prefer your Dad’s singing voice, justifiably so. You happily hold my hand, and not just in parking lots or crossing the street. You love to nuzzle on the same pillow together, reading books or brainstorming activity ideas on Pinterest. I smell your hair and it is wonderful.
Six is about straddling that gap between being a little kiddo and simply a kiddo. You now prefer showers over baths. You are just as likely to want to read to yourself before bed as have Mom or Dad read to you. You go to places like arcades and don’t require constant supervision anymore. This stage is like the teeth that you have started losing — just as the little kid leaves or falls away, the big kid is right there, pushing in, ready to take his rightful place.
Six is about starting to navigate relationships outside your immediate family. You have school friends now, and cousins, and neighbors. Your world is growing and you are thirsty for it. You are proud to think of yourself as the “playground peacemaker,” not picking sides and wishing everyone could just play together. This was the first year Mom and Dad weren’t enough at Halloween. You wanted to be with your friends, but knowing Mom or Dad was close nearby.
Six is seeing you absorb so much of the world around you. You ask more questions now. You have opinions and think Donald Trump would not make a good president (smart boy!). You pay attention, now, when Mom and Dad are listening to morning radio. We try and protect you from the bulk of it, at least for a wee little while longer, but those days will soon be gone. You are more attentive to this larger world you will inherit.
Six is about grumbling and stumbling. You make mistakes. You require lots of reminders for basic things like changing underwear and brushing teeth and putting the book down. That world you’re creating in Minecraft might consume you if we didn’t require some non-screen time. The idea of homework ticks you off. Limit setting is not your friend. Sometimes, you think Mom and Dad are the worst parents ever. We get it. We still love you.
Six is about expanding those proverbial horizons. You’re hoping Santa will bring you a baseball glove for Christmas and for the first time ever asked for a Chicago team shirt. Any team would do, you said, as long as it was from Chicago. Those doubts you had about the old man in the red suit seem to have been addressed and your belief is sweet and innocent and precious. That water that terrified you just a couple of years ago is now one of your greatest pleasures. You love to bounce and toss on the waves. You haven’t conquered the bike yet, but that will come. My bet is on you, six year old, and all those places you want to go.
I love you and I have loved you being six, my boy. I love that when I told you that my elbow had knocked the tip off your most prized Lego creation yesterday your first response was to say, “No problem, Mom. Thanks for telling me,” followed quickly by welling eyes and tears when you realized the fix would not be as simple as you thought, finished up with a sense of victory when, after a few moments, you got to concentrating and figured it out all on your own. You are learning every day and watching that unfold is one of my supreme gifts in this life.