Twelve years ago today, I went into labor with my fabulous second son. It was the one labor of the four that unfolded even better than we could have planned. It was fast, quiet, and peaceful. Just us and the midwife. He had lots of red hair, and a hearty scream. I held him for a long time straight after he was born… no weighing, no scooping him away to deal with any issues, no interference. Mike cut the cord.
It doesn’t seem right that he’s only 12. In the past six months, he seems to have gone from kid to teen overnight. He’s more mature than some adults I know, his voice is as deep as his father’s, he’s about 3 inches taller than me, and most of his friends are teens. But alas, it’s true. Today Paxton turns 12. In honor of his birthday, twelve things you should know:
1. He’s funny. Oh this child. Where Spencer’s humor tends to run towards the corny, Paxton’s is dry and understated, and he has a huge penchant for sarcasm. I can joke with him in an entirely different way than I joke with the others. What can I say? He’s a smart @ss, and I love that about him.
2. He’s smart. He has his dad’s head for numbers for sure, and is able to do complex calculations in his head that I struggle with even on paper. He is amazing at just about any game he tries, and is a genius when it comes to computers. He can also carry on conversations that you’d think would be eons beyond a 12-year-old (see above about seeming older than 12) He’s our first child that was truly given the ultimate freedom to live and learn in his own way. Spencer was too, but when he was little, we were still gaining our sea legs as parents and unschoolers. By the time Paxton had come along, we fully trusted. And he has blown us away.
3. He’s adventurous. He’s always the first to fearlessly explore the giant rocks in the desert, climb to the top of the mountain, or squeeze himself into the crevasse of the cave.
4. He has a big heart. One of my favorite Paxton memories is from shortly after we moved to Arizona. Our next door neighbors were having a yard sale, and he walked over and used his own quarter to buy his then-toddler little brother a stuffed Barney that he knew he’d love. He has the same giving heart now, almost 7 years later. This is a kid that would give you the shirt off his back.
5. He’s true to who he is. I never worry that he’s going to get himself mixed up in the wrong thing, be swayed by disingenuous friends, or follow the crowd if they go against his own sense of right and wrong. He knows who he is, and he’s not afraid it. A tiny example? He doesn’t like shorts. He lives in Phoenix, and doesn’t like shorts, so he wears jeans twelve months out of the year. He is always true to who he is, in both small things and large. And I love that about him too.
6. He’s crazy. So yes, most of the time, I forget that he’s only 12. But then he plays with his 8-year-old brother. I hear the yells, and the screams, and the wild-boy shenanigans. I smile. Oh yes, he’s also still a normal and crazy and fun-loving kid.
7. He’s a homebody. Our biggest introvert by far, he is happiest when he’s home on his computer. In fact, I’d venture to say that his favorite part of the day is after midnight, when the rest of the house sleeps. He has time, peace, and quiet to himself, and he recharges. It’s something I can very much relate to, and I admire that he honors that part of himself instead of trying to fit into someone else’s ideas about what he should be doing instead.
8. He’s independent. The independence he has possessed his whole life is almost scary (in the best possible way!). From teaching himself what he wants to know, to choosing to spend time on his own, to cooking his own food, he’s been an old soul almost from the time he was born. A few months ago, he broke his ankle playing basketball. While I hated that he was hurt, I selfishly enjoyed his recovery… because it meant that for those weeks, he needed his mom again in a way he hadn’t needed me for a long time. We watched movies, we looked things up on YouTube, he practiced his card tricks. I so appreciated the extra time we spent together, just as I appreciate the fact that he’s a strong and independent kid who’s well on his way to growing up.
9. He’s an excellent writer. I’m biased (both as a mom and as a writer) but I love his writing style! He started a blog about gaming back in January, and while he only wrote a few posts, I loved the peek into his head.
10. He’s fun. What a blast to be around this kid. A couple weeks ago, we were all out shopping, and Tegan had tired of wearing the huge sparkly crown she’d put on before we’d left the house. It was her birthday crown, and it said something like, “I’m The Birthday Girl,” with a big number 4 on it. She handed it to me when we were at Goodwill, and I put it on Paxton’s head. He happily – and unabashedly – wore it the rest of the day, including out to dinner. Just because.
11. He’s determined. He has planned out not only his entire future gaming career, but exactly what he needs to do to get there. And I don’t doubt for a second that he can do it.
12. He’s accepting of others. I’ve saved this for last because it’s possibly my favorite one. Just as he’s true to himself, he wants others to be true to themselves as well. He accepts people exactly as they are, and he doesn’t make decisions based on superficial things. We were talking about bullying once in the car (we seem to have our deepest discussions in the car), and him, Spencer and I were discussing the news story of another gay teen who’d been so severely bullied that he’d ended up committing suicide. “I don’t understand why people are mean to gay kids,” he told me. “It wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference to me if one of my friends was gay.” And he means that. And he lives by it. Gay, straight, black, white, rich, poor… To him, they’re all just people, and potential friends.
Happy 12th birthday, Paxton! I love you, and I’m so proud to be able to call you my son.