Matthew was eight just yesterday, I'm sure of it...and now my second son is the big eight! Seth is just sixteen months younger than his big brother and this week we also celebrate his birthday!
It's hard to believe, despite having witnessed it first hand, how different a boy our Seth is today than two years ago. This kid knocks my socks off!
It's been about six months now since we saw Seth's heart finally start to open up and it's felt like we've been getting to know the real Seth ever since. Well, maybe that's not a fair way to put it - he has always been real...but since the alarm bells related to his trauma have started to reduce in volume and strength, since his walls have started to come down, other aspects of his personality are shining through more than before.
Just yesterday, we were with friends we hadn't seen for a bit and my girl friend, who reads my blog and knows my thoughts about Seth's progress, said that she could see how much happier Seth is now than even months ago...as we watched him tear around a spray pad with laughter and joy and mischievousness emanating from him. And it's true. He's so often happy these days, and when Seth is happy, his uber-energy flows and he runs hard, plays little pranks that drive his siblings mad, squeezes his mama in spontaneous little moments of joy, sings in the shower (in fact, now he sings even while getting ready to take a shower!), and skips around the house. It's really rather remarkable!
Seth is an extremely loving and affectionate boy now with his parents and select others. Though very reserved in physical proximity with most people, he positively radiates love for Geoff and me now. I am showered with kisses and words of love from this boy many times throughout every day and he is a joy to see developing. From day one, he has been a very intense little boy and he has now simply applied that intensity to the way in which he loves us...perhaps me in particular now. He loves to help, loves to work alongside on pretty much any task (however mundane), is hugely mature in his eagerness to contribute to family life, and tries so hard to obey - not out of trauma any more, but very clearly out of love for us.
The intensity of his focus, wherever it's directed, regularly gets Seth into spots of trouble and it's hard to find ways to correct him gently, simply because he really does try so hard already and it's tough for him to know that he's not always going to get it right despite his best efforts. This is a kid full of grit and determination and a healthy competitive streak and, as his soccer coach put it a few weeks ago, more energy than any kid I've ever known. He never stops...and when he's forced to stand still, his eyes and powers of observation are put to excellent use...this is a boy who misses nothing and is as sharp as a whip when it comes to assessing a room.
Seth is so generous with those he cares about. He'd give any one of us the shirt off of his back, and if he had no shirt to give he'd find a way to get one just to give it to a member of his family. For Lizzie's birthday last week, he gave her his skateboard (which she's been expressing a love for!) and he'd planned that for months and months. It's just how he thinks. If he sees that I'm having a rough moment, he's the first to notice and is over to me in a flash, putting a compassionate arm around my legs or waist and just hugging me for a moment and saying something like "Mommy, it's going to be ok." There's a kindness and thoughtfulness about my middle child that runs deep and wide.
I'm not sure how Seth will handle academic world required of him over the next decade, but it's already easy to see that any employer will be lucky to have him on staff. My brother has said that he'd hire Seth any day - he's just that gritty and determined and competitive and hard working. And maybe even the academics are going to come, too. Recently, although I hadn't been teaching him letter-related things for a couple of months (to give him a break), he told me that he wanted to hang a sign on the fort he had just built and so he asked me how to spell various words. We sounded words out together and he painstakingly and colourfully creating the following sign.
Look at those beautiful letters...they brought tears to my eyes! A year ago I wouldn't have believed it. And just this week, after a year of my occasionally asking him if he was ready to start learning how to read, he came to me of his own initiative and said, "Mommy, I'm ready to start learning how to read now." We talked about it being a lot of work and taking quite a while and he assured me that he was ready and willing to get started. Yesterday he completed lesson #1 with me and he did great!
From a purely physical perspective, I love watching Seth run. Although he's a little awkward when it comes to knowing the limits and boundaries of his body as it concerns his person-to-person interactions, when engaged in a sport, particularly a sport that involves running, there's no one like him. He's grace in action. He's beautiful to watch running full out, and Matthew often and readily says that Seth is way faster than he is and that he's an amazing athlete. He's registered for indoor soccer this winter for the first time, and I'm thinking that this is going to be a great fit for him, as well as an opportunity to use those competitive drives of his in a team building capacity. His coaches are going to love him...I already know that.
I wish I could somehow convey how great a joy Seth has brought to my life, to our lives. Having already birthed a son by the time Seth came into my life, I used to wonder before we met Seth if I'd ever be able to love another boy as much as I did my first. But it's been a long time since I've had those worries. It's hard not to love Seth with one's whole heart, especially once one gets to know him. Even with all of the challenges, Seth is a joy to parent and is a miracle of true resilience - having already worked through so many big issues and being willing to break down the big walls that vigourously guarded his heart for the first eighteen months with us. His heart is soft and open - a miracle that we can only hope to maintain and build upon.
So to my beloved son...Seth, I wish you the happiest of birthday weeks and God's richest blessings over the coming years. We are so proud of you, and we love you with our whole hearts.