I remember my 10th birthday. I remember it like little else from when I was younger. I don’t precisely know why this is. it definitely stands out in my mind, from all other adolescent birthdays, from most memories of my youngest years in general. My memories from being a little kid are often fairly spotty. Even if I see myself in a photo from, say, my eighth birthday party, or a family camping trip when I was seven, there’s no memory that is jogged by it. I remember nothing—nothing—at all about kindergarten, other than the names of the three teachers I had that year.
But the 10th birthday sticks out for me. Maybe it was all the talk of ‘double digits’—that short period of time in our life when we have only one number to our years, now in the past. I remember both my mom and dad talking about what a milestone it was to be 10 years old; some coming-of-age time of life, even though it’s really not. I remember holding the birthday cards in my hands, colourful, with text loudly pronouncing ‘YOU’RE 10!’ I had a hot air balloon cake that year, with blue icing, shredded coconut, and licorice whips for the ropes between the balloon and the basket.
Like I say, I don’t know what this birthday sticks out in my mind. But today, my own son turns ten. And I’m sure it will stick out in my mind forevermore.
A decade is a long time.
It was a long time ago that this small little human was born, very suddenly, on our bathroom floor, three weeks ahead of his projected due date. Born on the summer solstice during a period of pleasantly warm weather, we took him to the beach when he was four days old, this 6 lb 7 oz baby, swaddled in close to his mother’s chest.
A decade is a long time.
And here, today, this same human with the same chestnut-coloured hair that he was born with, will scoot, walk or ride himself off to school, perhaps where he will be feted by his classmates. He’ll learn long division, do a unit in the computer lab, charge around at lunch playing soccer or basketball or just goof around with friends. Before all that, he’ll probably ask for an egg for breakfast, and then another, which he’ll hungrily slurp down along with fruit and bread and a glass of milk. And on the weekend, he’ll have his party where we’ll play laser tag and talk about hockey and soccer and have cake and sing happy birthday.
Maybe it will all stand out to him like it did for me when I was his age. Maybe there is some understanding that those single digit years are behind you, and the road to triple digits is long, and unachievable to most. A life of double digits, therefore, awaits. But that’s too big a thought for 10-year-old, isn’t it?
And now I pause and think again of that little baby boy. And I reflect on all the milestones in these first ten years, the uniqueness of the character that is growing up before my eyes, and I set my sights on what his next ten years will look like. But I don’t actually want to look ahead too soon. Because as I think about it now—about these last ten years—they actually happened really fast.
In fact, I’m wondering, just now, where they went.
How did we go from diapers and midnight feedings to hockey card collections, Saturday soccer games and skiing black diamond runs? How did it go from mushy peas and carrots, to a love of sushi, top 40 music and a mind for mathematics?
I guess, perhaps, it just boils down to this nice, round number. It’s easy to package up a decade in retrospect; so much cleaner than a seven-year review, or eight or nine. Ten. It has a certain ring to it, just like my parents told me it did.
That’s just about enough philosophizing on the importance of a 10th birthday. I’m glad for every day we’ve been given with him. He was the best thing to happen to 2008, and ten years later, we have a smart, funny, kind, interesting kid on our hands, and there’s nowhere to go but up. I don’t know if he’ll look back at his own 10th birthday, 30 years from now, and think ‘huh, that was something special’. But trust me, it IS special. HE is special, and THAT is what makes it special.
Happy 10th, buddy. Love you.
|3,650 days ago.|