I became aware this summer of the awesomeness that is Ellis at age nine. It happened on our Saturday walks to Aikido when we had great conversations about starting small businesses, or how to learn from evaluating your projects so you can make them better next time, or what it will be like when he has children, or why it's important to vote no on the anti-gay marriage amendment that is on the ballot in Minnesota this fall. On many of those walks, he holds my hand the whole way, even the time we ran into one of his friends from school in the park.
Then, a few weeks ago, he started folding and putting away his own laundry. And he not only remembered that it was pizza day at his camp, but when I told him I didn't have cash in my wallet, he cheerfully got his own three dollars to pay for his lunch.
When I picked him up from his second day of fourth grade, I was expecting to have to draw information out of him about his teacher, his classmates, and his day as I have for the past four years. Instead, he talked and talked about all kinds of things and pulled out his planner (he's really excited about his homework planner) and told me what was in it. My heart swelled.
Since I spend much of my day under a four-year-old's reign of terror, the pure sanity that is Ellis at age nine is like water after a long walk through the desert. I have loved my children through all of their rough spots and sweet spots, but there's something so rewarding about riding out a long sweet spot together with a really terrific kid.