Your last birthday before you become a teen is here and I truly do not understand how this has happened.
OK, I know how it happened but it is so very hard for me to grasp how quickly time is passing.
Gone are Thomas the Tank Engine, Bob the Builder, stuffed animals, and Duplos, but thankfully, not Legos.
Now there is homework everyday instead of extra playtime, chapter books instead of picture books, "real" movies instead of cartoons, board games or the Wii instead of peek-a-boo.
Friday night I dropped you off at your first school dance and got almost as teary as I did your first day of kindergarten, and like that day I hid those "happy" tears until I drove away. Where you once needed to be walked into a classroom holding my hand I now get to watch you walk up to a huge building alone or with friends without a look back (and yes I am there watching but glad that you feel confident and comfortable).
Seemingly overnight you have your own sense of style, a willingness to try new things, more patience for your sister, you offer your help without being asked, a dry wit, and an affinity for fake moustaches, fedoras, and accents.
Things that have not changed- your sweet nature, your love of drawing and building, your super-awesome dance moves, your ability to make Emma laugh harder and louder than anyone else, your love of learning new things, your group of friends- most of whom you met in kindergarten, your love of observing and being in the natural world, your quiet side (until someone gets to know you), the way you contemplate what you are going to say (aka the long pause) before you say it, the fact that you still hang out in the playhouse, and that you give great hugs.
Some of my favorite time with you is spent when I take you to and from school or the library- just the two of us in the car getting a few moments to talk about anything. Or the nights before bed when instead of reading you just want one of us in there with you to talk with or to just be in close proximity to.
I love that you still say "I love you" to each of us every day.
I am just so very proud of the young man that you are becoming and glad that you are not so big yet that I can't see just a bit of that little boy that you used to be in some of the things you do.
Happy 12th birthday Ben. May this year be even better than the last.