Little Matthew just turned 11.
Last Friday was his birthday. We celebrated with blue pancakes with blueberry syrup, the rest of his favorite breakfast foods and finished off with our own individual pints of ice cream. (Not consumed in one sitting. The remaining ice cream taunts me from the freezer.) Then, Saturday we hosted a family party with a Percy Jackson Lightning Thief theme. Lots of blue food and Greek food. Our favorite cake lady retired, so we had to bake and decorate the cake ourselves. I made a blue velvet cake, three layers. Matt decorated it to look like waves with hard candy lightning on top that he made. You'll have to read the books to understand all the blue.
His presents were noticeably different than previous years. Socks, underwear, dress shoes and belts, ties, a couple hockey jerseys and books, and a golf bag. He was happy, having received everything that he asked and hoped for....and more. He wasn't expecting the jerseys.
Every birthday is bittersweet, but this one looms large. He's on the cusp. We feel it - and see it, hear it and deal with it more and more frequently. I don't remember who first suggested to me that boys are tougher than girls when they are little but much easier when they are teenagers. If there's truth to that I suppose all I can do is be grateful that I don't have girls.
He would argue otherwise, but he is thriving in middle school. He's maintaining a solid A in honors math, having been moved up only this year. All of his grades are great in fact. He works hard and earned a Distinguished on his last report card. He's taking a break from piano for the time being, but is already on his fourth book for trumpet. His teacher seems to think this latest book might last a little longer than a couple months. He is also on student council and is an altar server.
He loves to serve Mass and frequently checks to make sure that they don't need an extra hand when we arrive at Church and he's not scheduled. He was able to serve Christmas Eve Mass and often serves on Holy Days. "My Mom signs me up," he told our pastor. He neglected to say that he always wants me to sign him up.
He's a busy kid with all that and karate twice a week. He's trying to decide on whether he wants to play baseball this spring. That would mean a temporary hiatus from karate and a couple months of insane scheduling, meal plans, laundry and sitting at practices and games from the cold wet of April until the hot days of June. From blanket knitting to sunblock. I have decidedly mixed feelings.
Oh. And apparently he's popular with the girls. He can list all of the girls who have crushes on him. He has not purchased any of them cupcakes, unlike some of his friends. One, he doesn't have any money in his lunch account. Two - and this he knows and obediently repeats - he's not allowed to date until he's 16.
We bought him a special book for his birthday.
And yes, when I say that statement I recall the oft repeated line from Big Bang Theory, "Sheldon, read the book we bought you."
11 is bittersweet indeed.