But then he came home and there were stories of girls begging to hold his hand, of girls loudly professing their interest in him as a boyfriend, and of girls competing with each other for his attention. He told me with disbelief that one little girl asked all the girls in her dorm who liked him and every girl raised her hand. Every girl admitted that he, the boy who is all hard angles and flat planes, is the most handsome boy in third grade. Every girl, mama!
When I asked him why he thought the girls were so interested in him, he said, "'cause I've got this six pack and my arm muscles are the biggest." Seriously. That's what he told me. And as he noted each attribute, he showed it to me. My nine-year-old little boy who cuddles with me in the morning and is afraid of bugs and is trying so hard to hit the 80-pound mark so he can get out of his booster seat in the car. That kid is now dubbed "the girl expert" by his pack of wild third-grade friends.
The girl expert. Who was chased by three girls today when his grade went out to fly kites. Who tripped over his kite string and broke it because he hasn't yet learned how to act cool under the adoring gaze of the opposite sex. Who refused to give a little girl his phone number because he didn't know what they'd talk about on the phone.
My first born. My sweet, sensitive, and impulsive son ... is becoming a man. I joked tonight that I let him go away for two nights and puberty found him. Part of me knows I should be parent-ish about this, but a much larger part of me is just enjoying this awkward transitory phase of his life. He's like a newly born foal just realizing he has legs. I'm watching him stumble around and laugh at himself. He preens in the mirror, smoothing his hair and practicing his smile, and then laughs when I catch him doing it. One day, sooner than I'd like, he'll take himself -- and the world -- too seriously.
I'm letting myself enjoy his new-found confidence because, let's be honest, I've spent vast amounts of time worried about him. I worry that children will make fun of his facial ticks and that he'll give up on the struggle to control himself in class so as not to (again) be the "bad child" of his grade. I lose sleep imagining him on the receiving end of a bully's brutal aim because his brain is wired a bit differently than most and his parents "gave him away." Some days I don't know that he'll make it to adulthood without the scars and bitter disappointments that drove his biological parents down dark and dangerous paths.
And then there are the normal parenting worries: Will his peers accept him? Will he become a social rockstar or pariah? Will he be the teenager who looks forward to morning or the one who hopes to never wake up? When he's a grown up, will I have prepared him for the crushing pressures and realities of "real life"? I'm on my knees most nights praying that he'll learn to be humble and modest yet proud and determined. My mind plays a constant mantra: Let him always feel loved and wanted, by himself, by us, by the world. Every day. Every night.
I should be upset that a group of nine-year-old girls told him he's hot. I should worry that he's the focus of inappropriate attention at such a tender age. I should toss and turn over the possibility that he's rushing too fast into the murky world of girlfriends and sex and its consequences. But I'm not and I won't. Instead, I let him flex his muscles for me and giggled with him when he shrugged his shoulders and held up hands and said, "I guess I was just born this cute."
And, yes, he so totally was. For today, I'll bask in that.