Yesterday, Nicholas turned 13. There are no more little boys in this house; I know this because my husband reminded me several times yesterday. I know this because my littlest boy wanted to go see a PG-13 movie full of adolescent boy humor--and we let him. Four teenagers are asleep in this house right now (it's 4AM). And they are all mine. (I admit I find this daunting.)
Nicholas' birth was perfect. My water broke at 10:00 PM and he was born at 11:55 (no small detail). Christian was there to cut the cord. My favorite midwife made it just in time. They put a little Santa cap on his head. From that moment on, he was just a jolly old elf. Joy all wrapped in a baby's body. That was the best Christmas ever. He was baptized on December 29th, in the Octave of Christmas, right there in front of the creche. And that boy? That boy just became more loveable as he grew.
Barely moments after his twelfth birthday, he was the Best Man, twelve years to the day after his baptism, in the very same church. Shawn was going to be the best man for Michael, but when Michael and Kristin decided to have an "all sibling" wedding party, it was Nick who somehow moved into that role. Shawn mentored him, instead. And Nick rocked it like no one could have imagined.
So it has been. Nick is sweet and good and peaceful and tender-hearted and loyal and passionate about truth. He's the kind of guy you'd be glad to have as your best friend. Twelve was tough year. Three big brothers moved out. I thought his heart would break. He adores those boys, revels, really, in his super-little-brother role. Though he's certainly taken his fair share of big brother knocks, he's grateful to his core for those big boys.
We asked him to leave his soccer team. That's the team with all his best friends, the ones he's played with since he was eight. The team that was just too far away to make it work. He was the fulltime goalie on the team that won State Cup. He left it to play only half of every game on a team close to home. And he never once complained. Instead, he reflected that this new field is really close to Michael's house and "isn't it great that Kristin is so nice when she takes us to practice sometimes?"
Then, his gandfather died. He walked through that first week just a few steps behind his dad every waking moment (and, frankly, right there with his dad several nights, too). He stuck close to his grandmother. He was a lector at the funeral. And a pall-bearer, shoulder to shoulder with his beloved big brothers, (the littlest, but not for long).
He was Patrick's biggest fan. He was the first to volunteer to ride along every time someone made a trip to Harrisonburg to see Christian. He was there, in all the moments--both dark and light--still the boy infused with Christmas joy.
My guess is that thirteen will be the year when the littlest boy overtakes nearly all of them--he will one day be the biggest, even if he's always the youngest. Thirteen will take him places we can't imagine right now. I pray that thirteen will be kinder and gentler to him than twelve was. But even as write, I know that there will be hard days in the year ahead. Nick knows it, too.
These early teen years are always tricky and I see some bumps on the horizon that other boys didn't have to face in the tricky years. This boy is well prepared, though. He is wiser than his years and staunchly shored up by the five siblings who go before him. And he is forever the miracle baby who carries Christmas with him through all his days.