Ode to the twelve year old boy

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It's become somewhat of a tradition for me to write a paragraph or two (or more because I'm long-winded) at my kids' birthdays. I try to memorialize what they are like at that particular age, what has changed since the previous birthday, and even what I might want the grown-up version of them to know someday. Honestly, I probably do it more for me than for them. Heck, I can barely remember what I had for dinner two nights ago, so I figure I'd better start recording the glory years -- before I'm old and alone and free to eat the entire box of ice cream sandwiches sitting in freezer -- should I so choose.

Parker actually turned twelve a little over a month ago. He was anxious to invoke the standard birthday fanfare -- breakfast in bed, gifts in the morning, Chick-fil-A lunch delivered TO the school, all topped off with a special birthday dinner. And yes, I realize that I've made this celebration primarily about food. That's the problem with traditions. You tend start them when you are young and your metabolism is a bit snappier. 

Parker is the fourth child in our family of four children, AND he's the only boy child. Some of my friends call him the heir apparent or the little prince. He does tend to get his way. But it's not because he's over-indulged (well, not relatively speaking). Instead, I'm likely to give this kid what he wants because he is so darn reasonable. And kind. And just sweet. He's really good at reading people. And he's empathetic. If I say 'no' he's most likely okay with that. If I ask him to, say, do the dishes, he'll usually respond with a cheerful, "Sure Mom!" I'm not making this up. I know it's weird. It must come from his father.

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Here's something about my twelve year old boy -- he's super loud. It's not that he talks loudly or screams a lot, it's more that he is constantly engaged in the business of making noise. Like strange voices, or falsetto singing, or gun/car noises. Sometimes it's just an endless array of electronic-sounding blips and bleeps. Other times it's the same lyrics OVER and OVER again. After a few minutes of allowing the bleeping and singing and machine gunning to go on, I'll saying something like, "Parker! Seriously. It's enough." And he stops. And then approximately 27 seconds later . . . it starts up again. He doesn't even seem to notice. I asked him the other day if he inadvertently sang and made strange noises at school. He looked at me like I was crazy. So...is that a no?

For Christmas this year, Sterling and I threw our typical penny-pinching caution to the proverbial winds and hooked Parker up with an Ipad Mini. Boy howdy does he love that thing. What was I thinking? 
Me: "Here kid. Here's another screen to add to the multiple screens in our house that are potentially damaging your eyesight, psyche, and physical mobility."
Him: "Thanks Mom!"
On the upside he has several games he plays with his Dad . . . so . . . Dad-time! When I think of him at age twelve, I should probably remember him in the morning before school, sitting up to the kitchen island, ipad next to him (easel-style), eating his breakfast. After school? Parker sitting up to the kitchen island, ipad next to him (easel-style), eating PopSecret Homestyle microwave popcorn completely buried in three cups of powdery Kraft parmesan cheese.

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But fear not, oh ye screen regulators of the Internet! Directly after the snack, Parker practices his cello for 30 minutes. Everyday. He sets the timer on the microwave and starts his way through his practice pieces. At approximately 4-7 minute intevals, he screams in to whoever is in the kitchen to ask how much time he has left. I always find it quite disheartening to tell him, "26 minutes." And then, after multiple renditions of "Edelweiss," "Allegro," and "Perpetual Motion in D Major" . . . barring any lessons or practices, he goes outside to play. Around six I call him in for supper. My sister has encouraged me to simply stick my head out the door and shout, "Beav! Time for dinner!" I haven't tried that one yet.

Parker, my own personal version of the twelve year old boy, likes Adventure Time, and Psyche, and Lord of the Rings. He still plays with Legos, and knights, and air soft guns (of which I don't approve). His favorite food is ribs, and PW's Buttered Rosemary Rolls, fresh artichokes, and ice cream. He has several Snickers hidden in the freezer. I'd like to say he's a momma's boy, and while he is so, so sweet to me, I have to admit that he tends to favor his daddy. He follows his dad around the house, wrestling, watching semi-violent movies, teasing each other. He likes to camp, and hike, and get dirty. He likes to put on a navy suit on Sunday, often coming down in the same color tie as his dad.

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Twelve years old is a tumble of little boy mixed up with the beginnings of manhood. It's pretend war in the cul-de-sac thrown in with middle school responsibilities. It's swimming all afternoon and learning to mow the grass. It's Saturday morning cartoons and Boy scout service projects. It's wearing shorts all through a Texas winter. And making silly putty in science lab. And eating nine tacos for dinner.

And for my boy, it's not being too big to tell his momma he loves her. Or write to his college sister that he misses her. Or declare that his pup is the best dog ever. It's a whole world opening before him. How very lucky that I get to watch.

Happy 12th son.