Xander turned six years old today. I know it’s cliched to say that watching your kids get older makes you feel old, but having a six-year-old makes me feel so adult, let’s put it that way. I’m firmly entrenched in a different phase of life now. My wife and I have produced, and are responsible for, a rational, intelligent being capable of complex critical thought. It’s a very different thing than having a baby, which you mostly have to feed and cuddle and change and try not to drop. Now I have to think about what I say offhand or what pops up when I’m reading the newspaper online, because he might be reading over my shoulder and processing everything. I have another soul to think about. That’s kind of scary.
It’s wonderful too. In some ways, parenting grows more enjoyable even as it becomes more challenging. It’s a different world once your kid can read and do math and write emails. The simplest things lead to fascinating discussions. Today we were playing Super Mario Galaxy on the Wii and I cautioned Xander’s friend not to fall in a black hole. Xander perked up and wanted to know what a black hole was. After I explained about a star going supernova and then collapsing inward, creating a tremendous field of gravity that sucks in everything around it, Xander grew quiet.
“Will that ever happen to the earth?” he asked.
I paused. “Probably not,” I said.
These are the places his mind goes. He’s in a constant state of figuring out the universe. He’s fascinated by puzzles, numbers, and science. I love the way his brain works—always in motion, always plotting and deciphering. During our most recent conversation where I tried to convince him to give basketball a shot, I tried to explain to him that it doesn’t matter if he’s not good at it, or never gets good at it. He could just run around and have fun. He gave me a strange look.
“I don’t like just having fun,” he said. “I like making plans and doing things.”
Now, he’s not an overly serious kid by any stretch. He’s as silly as any six-year-old boy, with the same goofy sense of humour. Nothing sends him into hysterics like crawling up into my lap and letting rip a tremendous fart right on my leg. But I understood what he meant: he has no time for anything where he can’t see the purpose behind it. Trying to get him to do something “just because” (or even better, “because I said so”) has never, ever worked. It’s like living with a little philosopher. Or a lawyer.
He also has incredibly keen senses. That’s one of the reasons he’s such a fussy eater—the other day he even turned down pizza, usually his favourite food, because Shawna bought a different kind of mozzarella cheese that didn’t quite taste or feel the same as the usual kind. And he asked for a pair of scissors a couple days ago to cut the tag off his shirt, because “it feels like there’s a giant cockroach crawling on my back.” Which I thought was both incredibly articulate and very gross.
Sometimes I wonder just what it’s like inside his head. He’s only six and he’s one of the most interesting people I know. I’m glad I get to hang out with him.