|My eldest son, now 11.|
The last time he went there on a Friday for a couple of hours whilst his little brother was at his Dance class and I worked late, he didn't actually come home until Sunday evening!
He just tootles along at his own pace, humming his own tune, doing his own thing.
As is right.
It seems only five minutes since the day he turned ten and, oh my, how things have changed since then.
All of a sudden he seems ready for Senior School, which is a good job because he'll be starting there soon! He's all grown up in some ways and still very young in others.
He didn't want a party this year, but just to be at home with his brother and me. He asked his Godmother to make him his cake because she does them so brilliantly (think M&Ms secreted in the middle and spilling out when you cut them, something most mums can't compete with). I pretend to be offended but, really, I just want the best for him and, as a bona fide chef, she undoubtedly is that.
He makes me very proud in so many ways - how he gets on with his work at school, how he works out a tune on his keyboard, how he ploughs through books at a rate of knots, how much he loves. He's very sensitive and kind and yet stroppy as a stroppy person in a strop can be. Can't imagine where he gets that from ;).
I admire the fact he's feisty and sticks up for himself. It's something to encourage, not wanting him to be ridden roughshod over. His comebacks are brilliant.
He has a beautiful singing voice, but is too shy to do much with it. The thought of it breaking..... well, let's not go there yet.
He is a Gemini. So we have the both - the one who stands up strong, the other crippled with a lack of confidence.
The answer is generally food. Like most other 11 year olds, his appetite is his main priority and from what I hear, this is how it will be from now on. He will be eating us out of house and home this summer and I fear it will be our last as just us.
I will treasure our times down the beach together even more than usual, because he is going off into the big wide world from September. He has to travel by bus to get to his new school and will be increasingly independent. He'll be dressed in a blazer, have his own mobile phone and will make a lot of his own decisions.
He'll make new mates for his little brother to torment with hugs. They will all be embarrassed as hell and, as a result, most of the sleepovers will happen elsewhere (with any luck!).
But while he's here, still with us, still fairly little but almost as tall as me and his world still revolves around us, we are very blessed to know someone like him, very blessed by his company, very blessed in general.
At the moment he's mad about James Bond films, since they started showing them on a Sunday afternoon on TV. I bought him the whole set seeing as he didn't want a party, but, technically speaking, he's not old enough to watch them all.
And I find myself in a similar dilemma with his new bike. He now goes off on his own to his friend's house, which is hard when we've been a tight little unit for so long and done everything as one. But it's impossible to present him with it and ask otherwise.
*Sigh* We're at that inbetween age, where he still needs his mum, but it's all on his terms now, not mine.
It's all come too soon, but it's here and the tables turning isn't always a bad thing.
Yesterday, he helped me a great deal, by putting his hands on what was a painkful ankle. He used his intuitive healing abilities to manipulate it a little, told me which way to turn it a bit here and there and before very long, it had clicked back into place. What a ruddy genius. I'd been limping all day!
But that's my Beautiful 11 Year Old for you and the wondering what time he'll be home has begun!