Well, it has become apparent we now have a boy on our hands. All remnants of toddler, baby, or small person have completely grown up and away. The Spicy Barracuda is now, officially, a kid and quite the boy at that.
This began to become apparent in Georgia. He little round Buddha belly (which he had sported practically since birth) skinnied into a flat strong little tummy with ribs showing. His pants no longer fit and he shot right up practically an inch! I'm very thankful he doesn't have my legs, but has opted for thinner, leaner muscles which give him much more grace than I have ever been able to muster. I am equally thankful we didn't accumulate more size 5 pants as it appears he will have grown out of them quite rapidly.
As his shoulders have broadened and his jaw line continues to become much more defined the man residing in him has become quite obvious. It may be quite a while before girls start showing up at the door or calling on the phone, but we are having to let go of our little man and relinquish him to new-found friends. Though there are no young kids on our block, we live less than five walking minutes from a large park and the local elementary school where children abound. He also has quite the following at one of the grandparents houses in suburbia.
It is too soon for me. I tell myself that his sense of personal direction isn't strong enough, his knowledge and judgment in the face of peer pressure aren't fortified, his ability to stand alone with difficult choices falters too much. All of this is moot, however, he has made the decision himself and is demanding personal independence.
He knows many of the neighborhood kids now all by himself and looks for them at the park. Most of the YMCA afterschool program knows him on site and some wait for him to show up and play. He now wishes to play with me sitting quite a ways away (luckily Dad is still cool enough) and when I come to pick him up from a weekend with the suburban grandparents, there is a very down face.
The final blows of reality came when the desire to shave off the back of his mohawk was issued. The haircut has been all his own choice since it was first given at 18 months old. From the colors to the style, his hair is his to do with as he wishes. So after four or five "are you sure's" the clippers took off the long mane of hair traveling down his neck. This request was shortly followed by "Can we go get Pokeman cards with my allowance?"
So up the street the family walked. The Barracuda giddily running ahead with his prized allowance jar clutched in his hands, Jules and I following close behind. The realization came quickly that this will be the first of many such walks.
I remind myself that his independence is a good thing: we want a leader, not a follower. This new found voice and sense of self have shown themselves elsewhere from learning to read by himself to now declaring a desire to learn Spanish. He will make his own way, and we are still there to guide him, but from this point on he has taken over the drivers seat.