First, I have to say: I really, really love little boys. Many people seem to simply endure the presence of little boys, let alone the actual parenting of them. For whatever reason, I thrive on it. Little boys are brutal honesty, high-definition activity, boundless love and utter carelessness all bound up in a package of big eyes and bruised shins that just melts my heart. I'll say it again: I love little boys. I love their passionate natures, their frenetic need to find something to do, the curiosity that--if not directed in a healthy direction--might very well kill a cat or two.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love Jo. And I certainly wouldn't say no to adding another girl to our family. I enjoy (almost) every minute of the mother/daughter experience and am so grateful that the Lord knew I had it in me to parent a girl even when I would have sworn up and down that I absolutely could not. Girls are their own brand of joy, whether packaged in overalls or pink dresses.
But little boys make my heart sing.
And six year-old boys? Oh, my. It's the crowning moment of boyhood, when all of those magical ingredients that we can never put our fingers on gel into a sublime little person who embodies everything good with the world.
Logan is right smack-dab in the middle of this magic season. After putting his daddy and I through what I can only describe as the wringer that was his toddlerhood, this emerging boy we see before our eyes is most welcome.
Logan has become a boy with compassion. With a true heart for others. With remorse for injustice--even when he perpetuates said injustices. He has developed a real and tangible interest in the lives of others. A sweetness. A softness under his rugged, devil-may-care persona.
And ohmygoodness, is he cute! As Logan's body has shifted out of still-soft preschoolerhood and into young boyhood, he has become a stunner (in my book, at least). His dirty blond hair has gone curly and his chin is set in that semi-cocky way that--let's be honest--we girls all love. Yes: my boy has a decided James Dean flair going on. I am smitten.
Lately, I've been making a massive effort to squeeze in every ounce of Logan time I can muster. With the dawning realization that his youngest days are slipping by me faster and faster, I feel an increased need to scoop him up and enjoy him for who he is as an individual. This desire is coinciding nicely with his renewed interest in being my shadow. Right now, as I write this, Logan has opted to take his afternoon rest on the floor by my desk. He is happily stretched just beyond the reach of my toes, drawing Transformers with the help of a book from the library. He looks exactly like a six year-old boy engrossed in his favorite hobby should: all concentration, seriousness, and swinging feet. If I could see his face right now, I know his tongue would be cocked in the right corner of his mouth, helping him focus that much more.
Home educating a six year-old boy is a profound labor of love. They are interested in everything and nothing, and their brains work much faster than we think they do. Just when you think you have them pegged, biology overrules you and they have taken another giant leap towards the men they will become. And let us not forget the messes. A six year-old boy will, I have learned, tote an entire forest into your dining room, explore it with a magnifying glass on your just-cleaned table, and then wander off to dismantle the old cell phone you gave him three days ago. This whole process could take either four hours or ten minutes, depending on the six year-old's mood on any given day.
Earlier this week, I began reading Charlotte's Web to Logan. This was always one of my favorite children's books. I read it to Jo when she was three and set off a lifelong love of pigs (but not spiders). For the next few years we revisited the tale constantly--so often, in fact, that I began to tire of the story. We moved on to the battles of Narnia and the history of our country. Charlotte's Web has been out of our rotation for so long that I actually had to go looking for our worn copy of the book. The first night we began reading it, I settled in to our special chair and pulled Logan onto my lap.
"This is a special book, just for you and I to read together," I told him.
"Not Oliver?"he asked suspiciously. Beside the chair was a stack of picture books he'd heard thousands of times thanks to big brotherhood.
"Oh, no. He's too little," I said, remembering the many times I had nursed him as a little one and been reading from these same pages.
"No. He's heard it before," I nodded towards my leggy 8 year-old, who was splayed on the couch with his nose stuck deep into Eragon.
I started to read. Fern fought injustice. Avery was late to breakfast. Wilbur rode in the baby carriage. Bottles were made and served. Wilbur moved to the barn. The goose instigated an escape. Templeton was rude. And, at long last, Charlotte made her debut.
I left him with a cliffhanger. His face was full of the bright, eager hunger of a child deep in the throes of one of the best stories ever written.
"I do like this book!" he declared, wriggling his warm body deeper into my arms. "I'm not too old for it, and I'm not too young for it. It fits me just perfect!"
And that is the beauty of a six year-old boy. They fit, just perfectly, the definition of "boy." Two years ago, they were half-grown babies unaware of their own limits or potential. Two years from now, they will be all angles and gawkiness, trying on adolescence and failing miserably through tears of frustration. But for now, they are simply content to be right where they are: boyhood. Neither large babies nor little men. Simply ... boys.