He is sometimes still a child, playing with his color changer Hot Wheels in his now-necessarily-daily shower. He still plays little role playing games with his younger siblings and though it's all done under the guise of 'look at what a good older brother I am,' I can see that he genuinely still enjoys these little blips of his not-quite adolescent life. Few things bring him more joy that going on Dictionary.com and orchestrating things so that grown-up (and even better - English) voices enunciate words like poop and butt-cheeks. He loves to play with our cat and they chase each other merrily all around the house, pouncing on one another in turns. He still requests each night to be specially 'put to bed,' and feels very hard done by if we bypass his room and only feel we have the energy to formally put the Littles to bed. In so many ways, he's still a little boy. A little boy who secrets away the Omega-3 tablets that he's supposed to take each morning at breakfast. Sometimes I find his stash. This boy still makes me a homespun Valentine card each year and he's quick to sacrifice his now relatively rare peer-given Valentine candies to me, though he really should not. When it's his lot to kill houseflies in the summer, he's been known to leave one - carefully arranged - for me on my pillow at night. A transcendant maturity has not always been his to brag of.
But more recently, these precious last blips of childhood are intermingled with the qualities of an older boy. Every now and then his voice cracks as he speaks. He's good natured and laughs at himself when this happens, and he likes to recreate the cracking words over and over for our listening pleasure. Sometimes when people phone and he answers, they assume he's me. This too, fortunately, he finds funny so far. I've alluded to the necessity of regular showers now in his nascent life. These showers are no longer optional. He gets to choose class options now in school, which he finds animating and empowering. Girls contact his older sister via Facebook to enquire about his relationship status. He is an excellent babysitter and the house is always spotless when we arrive back home, because he knows a monetary bonus is therefore his. He loves foreign exchange students and does everything he can to ease their transition into Canadian life; he feels very aware of their potential loneliness. This boy is a beautiful person and in a strange sort of twisting inconsistency, he's curiously mature. I wish so much that I could post his picture so that you could see the freckles skittering across his nose. I think they might be the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.