Twelve? twelve? … TWELVE

If you’re a person who writes a blog and if that blog should talk about your children if you have them (or your pets if you don’t, although really it’s about the same thing, isn’t it?), then the occasion of a birthday – theirs or yours – might call to mind a blog post.

And if you’re going to write a blog post about a birthday, you might find yourself wandering in the thicket of photos on your computer, and it might be that these photos, which were going to be organized last year five years ago weekend but then there was that thing that happened so you couldn’t get to it and then – well, anyway, the thicket of photos might prove to be an endless forest in which you would wander for hours, lost in thinking about that tiny baby, who is now…



And you would emerge blinking from your dreamy visit in the digitally preserved past, like so much pixelated amber, and say to yourself, that teeny burrito-sized baby, twelve? 

Because twelve — well, to be twelve, you might as well already be thirteen. Twelve is but the pause, the deep inhaled breath before the exhaled hormonal hurricanes begin.  But what’s that, you say, boys are easier? Less tumultuous, fewer emotional high-wire acts?

Hmm. I’m skeptical. Liam has never in his life, as near as I can tell, followed the conventional path anywhere:

He sets his alarm for 5:49 every morning, gets out of bed, showers, gets dressed in his school uniform, and is already playing his computer game before I’ve stumbled out of my room ten minutes later. He’s been reading Isaac Asimov’s book Atom for fun; he came to a book talk we had on campus a few weeks ago about Yann Martel’s Life of Pi — of his own volition.

At twelve, this boy is torn between being a physicist, a professional soccer football player, a chef who specializes in chocolate desserts, and an inventor – and who is happiest building intricate, self-designed Lego creations. At twelve, he can’t find the “off” switch on his competitive engines, even to play a “friendly” game of Monopoly. He’ll gut you over Boardwalk without batting an eyelash, will wheedle for you to do a trade with him until you give in…and then slam you with rents so high you’re bankrupted.

At twelve, this boy–who lives for football, and finds fart jokes vastly amusing, wanted two things for his birthday: a fuzzy bathrobe and bath products.  It’s as if he’s channeling Hugh Hefner, but he has no idea who Hugh Hefner is.

At twelve, he wants to be a good big brother…if only his younger brother would leave him alone. Except when Younger Brother does leave him alone, Older Brother suddenly feels lonely, suddenly aware that having an in-house companion is a pretty spectacular plus.  And mostly eight and now-twelve have found an equilibrium, realized that in our expat lives, where transience is a fact of life, they’ve mostly got each other – so killing one another is probably not in either of their best interest. A few years ago, Caleb’s joke present to Liam – a rock, ala Charlie Brown’s Halloween – would’ve given Liam apoplexy. Now, in his mature twelve-ness? He laughed.

Twelve. Old enough to be left alone for a bit if I have to run to the store; old enough to be interested in things like nice-smelling shampoo and having his hair look just so in the morning. But young enough to still sit on my lap, to ask for a hug, to want me to tuck him in at night and “say good-nights.”  And as I whisper our good-night ritual, I trace the outline of his face with my finger. In the dark, it’s twelve years ago, eleven years ago…it’s all the years, and I’m rocking a baby to sleep.



psst, guess what? (yes, I’m whispering; the baby is asleep) there’s a challenge grid going on in the yeahwrite world for those of us stupid brave enough to tackle NaBloPoMo. Yes. A post a day. Might not keep the doctor away but it may bring on tendonitis. And a lot of good writing. So click on the badge and look around the grid: you might find some new favorite writers to keep you company through Thanksgiving, US football, rainstorms, and whatever else is coming down on you these days.

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32 Responses to Twelve? twelve? … TWELVE

  1. Jamie@SouthMainMuse November 19, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    It’s funny. We are doing major cleaning out and came across that first hospital photo of my eldest. The one the hospital takes with their shirt on and the poor thing looks like “what the h@ll just happened” to me. Today, I go to pick him up for Thanksgiving — he’s a freshman in college. And looking at that wee baby, I laughed. I could so see his 19 yo face when he gets irritated. Hug on your boy. Before you know it you will have a very handsome young man.
    Jamie@SouthMainMuse recently posted..A Parenting Trap: Comparisons.My Profile

  2. ssw228 November 19, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    great piece deb.

  3. ssw228 November 19, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

    i can relate to Jamie–you turn around, and they’re grown up-and you think, but wait, there was so much more I was going to do with this gig.

  4. IASoupMama November 19, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    Happy birthday to Liam and happy birth day to you, mama! He sounds like a pretty darn awesome kind of kid.
    IASoupMama recently posted..Mom v. High ChairMy Profile

  5. Stacie @ Snaps and Bits November 20, 2012 at 3:33 am #

    What an interesting kid you have there! Lucky he’ll still cuddle on your lap at that age – that’s so awesome! My 16yo stopped earlier than that but I’m still hanging on to the 8yo snuggles from my younger son!
    Stacie @ Snaps and Bits recently posted..See A PennyMy Profile

  6. Christie Tate November 20, 2012 at 9:55 am #

    Well, he’s totes adorbs. That hair? Oh, so cute. Where were the smarty pants guys like him when I was 12. All I had was Joe Kozusko and that didn’t end well. Is NaBloWriMo almost over? I am ti-wred. Here’s the best line:
    Twelve is but the pause, the deep inhaled breath before the exhaled hormonal hurricanes begin.

    You= awesome.
    Christie Tate recently posted..Lil’ Outlaw Mama’s Education: The Sex & Sin EditionMy Profile

  7. Michelle Longo November 20, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    I love this. Your son sounds great! I love the glimpse of life ahead. I suspect I’ll have a 12 year old snuggler and I’m not in the least bit unhappy about that.

    Happy birthday!!
    Michelle Longo recently posted..19. Fat Ribs.My Profile

  8. Amanda November 20, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

    I love this. My oldest turns three on Monday and I found myself reading this post with a bit of a lump in my stomach. 12! TWELVE! Love it!

  9. Arnebya November 20, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

    Ah, 12. I will see it with the oldest on Saturday. Twelve. I keep saying it. Twelve. Twelve? Twelve! THE HELL?

    He looks very um, twelvish, in his fuzzy robe.
    Arnebya recently posted..Good EnoughMy Profile

  10. christina November 20, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

    what a sweet little slice of Liam you’ve got here. Happy 12 years to him! 🙂
    christina recently posted..Screwed { – Fiction – }My Profile

  11. Gina November 21, 2012 at 12:36 am #

    It goes fast, changes so quickly. My oldest turned 22 yesterday. My son, 19 will occasionally still snugs. Snugs come back around, I promise but the years don’t :-(. He’s gorge!
    Gina recently posted..Lame Butt RandomnessMy Profile

  12. Andee Flynn November 21, 2012 at 2:28 am #

    Love this post! I love how you navigated through the years from little burrito to the Life of Pi-interested 12 year old that your son is today. Beautifully written. Thanks so much for sharing- and by the way- what an amazing son you have- must get it from his awesome mama!
    Andee Flynn recently posted..memories of parisMy Profile

  13. Angela Ryan November 21, 2012 at 5:41 am #

    Your son sounds like a truly wonderful young man. I loved the Hugh Hefner line — very funny and awesome that he doesn’t know who that is, but rather appreciates Life of Pi. Good work, mom!

  14. Kianwi November 21, 2012 at 6:57 am #

    I love Liam! What a great kid. Thing thing that made laugh, though…I can’t believe he sets his alarm for 5:49. First of all, so early! But then I was thinking, why 5:49? Why not 5:50? I’m sure he has his reasons, though. You’ve got a special boy!

  15. The Dose of Reality November 21, 2012 at 7:59 am #

    My son is 12 also and it has been the MOST wonderful year. It’s such a great age because they are still like boys in so many ways, yet they are also starting to become grown up, too. Enjoy! He certainly sounds like a fantastic boy!!
    The Dose of Reality recently posted..10 Things We Learned in 2012My Profile

  16. Bill Dameron November 21, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    My “baby” is now 19 and the oldest…22, but just yesterday they were babies! What happened? Here is the good news, they still call me Daddy, still sit on my lap and thankfully never seemed to have gone through that embarrassed of me stage. Your son seems wonderful, a testament to his parents!
    Bill Dameron recently posted..Clear CreekMy Profile

  17. Lady Jennie November 21, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    What a COOL son you have! Happy Birthday.
    Lady Jennie recently posted..“Le Pont” (and also about dogs)My Profile

  18. Dilovely November 21, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

    I think I’ve just fallen in love with your twelve-year-old.

    Also: cutest exersaucer picture EVER. And… “so much pixelated amber”… Wow.
    Dilovely recently posted..If I Had (Half) a Million DollarsMy Profile

  19. shannon November 21, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

    Great post! This reminds me of a piece by Sandra Cisneros.
    shannon recently posted..infographic breakdown and contest winnersMy Profile

    • Deborah Quinn November 28, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

      Wow – thank you for the Cisneros compliment -that’s high praise, indeed!

  20. Azara November 22, 2012 at 1:04 am #

    I gave my 13-week-old son an extra cuddle when I read this!
    Azara recently posted..Un-shunned but still sickMy Profile

    • Deborah Quinn November 28, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

      yes – it’s so sadly true but time DOES fly. They tell you that, and if you’re like me, you totally don’t believe them, but…it’s true. Every now and then I look at this “Grownup” boy and think…oh dear lord one of these days he’s going to be a … MAN. And that’s when I pull the covers over my head. A MAN? Am.Not.Ready.

  21. Kathleen November 22, 2012 at 2:08 am #

    Happy 12th to Liam! I may not know him, but I feel like I do now. And he rocks!

    Such a sweet, funny post.

    P.S. My son is 13 and we still tuck him in at night, but don’t tell him I said that.

    • Deborah Quinn November 28, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

      Your son’s secret is safe with me – and now, actually, when my mom and I are in the same time zone visiting each other, we take turns tucking each other in – a brief bedside chat – it’s lovely. None of us get enough touching in our lives, basically, so a bedtime snuggle is a really good thing.

  22. A Morning Grouch November 22, 2012 at 7:04 am #

    Aw! What an adorable baby and little man. I can feel the love exuding from your post – he’s a lucky boy to have you as his mama.
    A Morning Grouch recently posted..On Gratitude and Compassion.My Profile

    • Deborah Quinn November 28, 2012 at 3:46 pm #

      Thank you – he IS adorable even though of late I have to say that he’s starting to smell. Like after soccer practice, when he wants to climb in my lap and snuggle – I love it, except really he smells like a long-distance trucker at the end of a LONG ride. It’ a bit disconcerting, actually!

  23. MizYank November 22, 2012 at 7:45 am #

    You hit all the emotions with this one, not to mention my funny bone with the Hugh Hefner comment.
    MizYank recently posted..Soaring with the turkeysMy Profile

    • Deborah Quinn November 28, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

      He is so funny in his robe – he totally lounges around in it, very Hugh-like, but at least the bunnies, in our context, are still stuffed toys. Thanks for stopping by…

  24. Ginny Marie November 22, 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    Oh, so funny that he got a rock for his birthday, and wonderful that he THOUGHT it was funny! Time flies by so fast. I was thinking similar thoughts about my daughter who just turned 8.
    Ginny Marie recently posted..The Hair on my Chinny Chin ChinMy Profile

    • Deborah Quinn November 28, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

      I know – I look at the post I wrote when Liam turned eight, and THAT seemed huge…and now it seems impossible that A)I am still writing this damn blog; and B) my big boy of eight is now twelve. How does that happen, that whole speeding up of the clock, hmm?

  25. Larks (@LarksNotesThis) November 23, 2012 at 1:57 am #

    Aw, what a beautiful piece and what a sweet, funny boy you have!
    Larks (@LarksNotesThis) recently posted..Cranberry sorbet.My Profile

    • Deborah Quinn November 28, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by – and for the compliment. He is a sweet funny kid, this kid of mine, although of course sometimes he makes me nuts. In a good way, of course! : )

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