Jake turned eleven a few weeks ago, and before another moment goes by I want to remember a few moments of him at this age.
He has trouble sleeping. Often he will fall asleep early in the evening, then wake up from 9-12 and wander around his room, laughing, playing with toys. If you go to his room he will run to his bed and pull the covers up over himself, but tap the bed to encourage you to sit awhile. He still loves it when I sing to him, and he'll let me pet his hair again after many years of not being able to be still. He lets me share a pillow as he tries to fall asleep.
He eats the rest of my lunch that is sitting on the counter, the minute he walks in the house after school. Then he waits at the counter tapping his fingers until I serve him another snack. He's rail-thin, and constantly moving. His hollow legs fill up with an hours-worth of snacks until I can bear no more and force him into the backyard to play. When I turn my back he walks around the kitchen until he finds the one food that was not "put away" -a pear. He takes a big bite, laughs and throws the pear onto the counter before slipping outside to play in the afternoon sun.
He can get in and out of most cars now by himself. Motor planning has never been easy, but he's got it now. And he can "scootch over" in a booth--if he wants to. The more his body cooperates, the more brainpower he can use on other things.
Given the chance, he will sneak down the stairs and crawl out the dog door. It's a game now for him to see how fast he can get out there..will we leave a gate open? will we leave the dog door unlocked? will the door to the hallway blow open in the breeze allowing for his escape? Once he gets out he yells and laughs very loudly so I will know he's there, but I know he's there. No matter how much I try, I am always 45 seconds behind him, which is just enough time to get outside and make mischief.
He greets guests now, and says goodbye too, in his own way. A brief pass by and a gentle brush of his hand across your arm says hello, and more regularly he will walk you to the gate as you leave. It's possible he's just waiting for you to leave it open behind you, but he quite often will stand at the gate until your car drives away. He cares that you've been here.
On a day that's too hot or too cold, I ask him to settle in on the couch and watch a show-- and he does. He loves Mythbusters. I used to think it was fluke, but he will come in and sit on the couch if he hears the voices of Jamie and Adam. If the tele switches over to record a news program he leaps off the couch to find something else to do, or slides the remote control across the floor towards my feet.
He can take handful of cereal out of a box on the counter without spilling the entire box onto the floor; not every time, but most of the time. Regardless of his success rate, he's trying, and I think he sees the benefit; the more careful he is, the more independence he gains. And independence is what any eleven-year-old boy craves.
He's gained so much maturity in the last year. I really feel like he is taking the time to connect to us, which is probably because we are trying to do a better job of listening to him, however he is communicating. More than ever, we are offering him choices whenever we can, rather than assume what he wants, even if I know what the answer is probably going to be, because he deserves to have his opinion heard.
He is closer to being a young man than being my baby now, I know that, but I am thankful he still has some of that little boy sweetness left--just enough clings to his hair that I can remember his tiny baby face when I kiss him good night in the dark.