Like every mother before me, watching my sleeping child fills me with an insane level of love - the unlined brow, the curve of his cheek, those sweet lips and the look of sheer innocence. Of course daylight brings its own joys (and also moments of frustration/ exhaustion) - endless chatter, running commentary, questions to which I don't readily have acceptable answers, independent thinking and the growing need to make his own decisions and so very many contradictions.
This past week my boy turned 8. Yes you read that right, E.I.G.H.T. The non stop-ness of small boy has only grown with him. He is a string bean of energy with never a dull moment while he is awake. Food is never his primary interest. He has never been plump (or haalthy like his mother) and over the past few months he has shot up in height, now giving real beansprouts a run for their money. We had his class birthday in school with cupcakes in early June, followed closely by a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory party with 25 friends. His actual birthday is always during the summer break and we try and make it a small occasion with family or friends.
This year we were in Singapore so he had his cousin, aunt and uncle to spoil him. On the day he woke up to a birthday banner and a compendium of 20 games. Then we spent 4+ hours wandering around Adventure Cove with a dear friend, the two of them taking on the rides without a parent shadowy following them around - every time I tried to get into the Wave pool or lazy river I was stopped with 'we can do this', 'meet us back here' 'thanks but no thanks mum'. So I listened to podcasts and kept my eye on them while they ran around like loons high on water. I finally yanked them out and made them rehydrate. We ate ice cream and then a full on dumpling fest at our favourite Din Tai Fung. I spent a lot of time in taxis ferrying children home and collecting the cake. As small as Singapore is it took a while to get from A to B to C to D and back to B again.
I ordered his favourite cake - a strawberry shortcake from Henri Charpentier. There were Star Wars balloons and pizza and a giant Lego box as well. Singing, eating, cake devouring, watching a Star Wars movie and running around the house - it was a long afternoon/ evening!
Early in the day he told me how he was going to 'please stay up till 10pm'. I had said yes confident that he would pass out from exhaustion way before. We read a book around 9pm in the hopes of winding down and as we lay there he reminded me that none of these gifts were from V or I and that he intended to choose (Lego) wisely when we got back to Hong Kong. I kept dozing off and every time I woke back up he was just as wired, reading and chatty. Finally at 10.20pm he passed out mid sentence. I didn't last much longer either.
He's the proud owner of a bunch of books and his first serious watch - a Swatch - all of his choosing. I can see what 8 has in store for us and frankly it seems like an interesting time lies ahead. I'm hoping it's going to be a Great Eight year.