When M was a baby, I was terrified of toddlers. They seemed to be a cross between a bulldozer and Frankenstein. Once, I was sitting on the couch at my local yarn store, holding M on my lap, and a toddler barreled over to us and jabbed my sweet baby in the eye. I could not believe I would have one of these monsters in my life in a few short months.
And then, within a few days of his first birthday, M said his first word ("koob" for "book") and made the transition from walking-while-supported to walking-all-the-time-get-that-stroller-away-from-me-you-harridan. And then things got really interesting. Sure, he was headstrong and destructive (though only mildly so--I would learn what destructive really meant four years later with two toddlers in the house), but he was also turning into a really cool person. Each night he came home from daycare with a new mouthful of words. He discovered, and helped me rediscover, amazing new things every day. Ages 12 months to 3 1/2 years were probably my favorite.
And then M turned 13, and once again he was becoming a really cool person (not that he wasn't in the process of becoming a really cool person in the intervening years, but I was too focused on bossing his recalcitrant little self around, and worrying that his money phase or his army phase or his Joe Hardy phase was a permanent fixture to notice).
Last week, since I had the kids with me at work on Friday, we headed over to the music store at lunchtime and M bought the guitar he'd been trying out last time we were in town--a major upgrade from his current instruments. While I ran the other two around to pick up lunch and a new pair of boots, M sat on a stool and plugged various guitars in to the amps on the showroom floor, testing out the different tones, making sure it was the right one for him, then he handed over months of allowance, Christmas money, and a major withdrawal from his bank account, all with the exact seriousness of expression his face has held since he was born.
When I take him to Portland to his voice lessons, I get to eavesdrop on him talking to an adult, professional musician in what is basically a foreign language: "Did you change the key?" "No I just dropped down an octave." "What chords are those?" "[Insert gobbledeygook of letters and numbers]." He knows what he's talking about and knows what he's doing. On the long drive home, he watches old Wayne's World clips from Saturday Night Live on my phone. I don't need to see the screen; Wayne's World defined my SNL-watching era in high school and college. And now I get to laugh when my own kid says, "Sheah, and monkeys might fly out of my butt." Is that obnoxious? Maybe, but it cracks me up.
At a party at our friends' house over the weekend, he sat down at their piano and picked out a song, "There's a lady I know. If I didn't know her, she'd be the lady I don't know...She's choppin' broccoli...chopping broccoli..." The next day, we hung out more than usual, as I *encouraged* him through his honors' class applications, his struggle to think of a historical character who inspired him, finally veering away from Frank Zappa and agreeing to my suggestion of Pete Seeger because there was a picture of Seeger wearing an orange hat on his Wikipedia page.
I like watching the way his mind works, and being astonished at what comes out the other end. And sharing juvenile Wayne's World jokes. And hearing him talk about and play music, even when he learns songs I hate on purpose just to annoy me (shh, don't tell him that). He still laughs at my jokes (when they're funny), but tells me to "Go away and stop annoying me, Mom," when I interrupt him while he's doing homework or watching The Daily Show (Dude, it's my job to annoy you). He's getting to be a really cool person, and not a monster at all. Knocking on wood that he stays that way.