Our oldest boy turned 9 years old yesterday.
Can you believe it? Is it possible that I have a 9-year-old?
We celebrated with a breakfast date: Judah, David, and me. The three of us sat on the front patio of Rise Bakery, eating sticky buns, and shooing away the black cat that wound around our ankles, wondering when the last time was that we’d been out together, just the three of us.
Judah requested a whole year ago that he get the day off school for his birthday. He’s the only one of our kids that has a birthday on a school day, and he was very frustrated about it. So from here on out we plan to take September 8th day off (no complaints here).
Back home he opened his gifts from us: a Lord of the Rings Lego set and a chess set.
This is the first birthday Judah hasn’t asked for all toys, and that makes me a bit wistful but also thrilled with the way he’s growing complex, with different hobbies and interests. From family members he got a knife and a sharpener and wood for carving. He got a Hobbit t’shirt, a tin of Pokemon cards and a binder to organize them.
At nine years old he’s growing up, but not so much that he didn’t spend the morning building and playing with his new Legos. I love that.
At nine years old Judah loves playing table tennis with Grandpa, and going to CIU soccer games with Papa and Nina. He’s the most outgoing of all our kids in social situations, is friendly and talks to adults and kids and teenagers alike. There’s an intrinsic confidence about him that I’ve always admired.
Judah is comfortable with who he is.
This year David and I have watched him grow and mature more than any other. He came out of the cloud of stress surrounding our adoption, has passed through anger and adjustment, and loves all three of his siblings. He’s shedding some of his tunnel vision and thinking of others. He’s learning to connect with his little brothers, even though sometimes they bother him. He’s growing kind and tactful, and is very sensitive to hurting people’s feelings. He’s learning to look adults in the eye when they speak to him and answer clearly.
He loves Classical Conversations. The academic philosophy is perfect for Judah. He loves to learn and has a great memory and is interested in the world. His favorite subjects are science and geography.
Unbeknownst to me, he decided to give his first class presentation on living in India. He hasn’t lived there in four years, but he stood up and told his class about preschool and learning Hindi and his friends, about being incessantly pinched on the cheeks and about eating masala dosa.
In his second week of school he recited the poem, The Land of Nod, by Robert Louis Stevenson, in its entirety.
I’m unspeakably proud of my boy.
I’m also more humbled than I can say. As a parent my two biggest temptations are to 1. Feel like I’m constantly falling short of being a good mom, and 2. Fearing the future as my kids grow up and encounter suffering and temptation, longing to protect them from all of it.
And yet. Watching my 9-year-old is nothing short than a testament to God’s faithfulness.
Judah has had several challenges already in his life: many moves, a traumatic time in India with a very sick Mommy (he later told me that he worried that I was going to die), planting a church, adopting two little brothers, a mom who has anxiety, as well as unique challenges he’s faced with the way God created him.
And yet, he stands before me with bright, eager eyes. He does his schoolwork and then knows he needs a break to jump on the trampoline. He’s interested in life and learning and river adventures with his dad. He loves watching The Great British Baking Show with me and learning to make chapati. He enjoys holing up alone to read and also going see his friends at swim practice. He’s bursting with excitement about our CPC church retreat this weekend.
All of this is God’s grace to our family and to our boy. I give Him the glory and I trust Him with Judah: both at 9-years-old and in the years ahead. My hands are open, even as I ache at the ways I fail and the challenges all kids face in growing up. I chose to enjoy Judah right here and now and to live in hope for the future. God loves him so very much more than I do and will work all of it for good in my boy’s life.
He has already.
I love you, Judah.