That's him on the left. Nine years old. What a great age to be. Not too big, not too little, but just right.
The book Your Nine-Year-Old by Louise Bates Ames subtitles this age "thoughtful and mysterious." The book also describes Nine as a tricky age; unpredictable, independent, persistent, complaining, moody, hovering on the brink of adolescence.
Ooo, it's that last part, that adolescence part, I can see right now in my nine year old. In my opinion, that is exactly the reason to celebrate the inconsistencies of the age. My nine year old has not discovered eye-rolling and the snarky comments that my eleven year old is beginning to master. He is in that fleeting moment of hovering between confidence and mastery and the insecurities of a little boy.
This weekend was Little League baseball try-outs. My nine year old is a natural athlete and a fantastic baseball player. In addition to being a great player, he truly loves the game of baseball. He approached the try-outs, with kids his own age, with confidence and anticipation. He caught every pop fly, threw accurately and hard, hit a home run off the first pitch thrown to him, and threw his three pitches right into the catcher's mitt.
Yet this confident and capable baseball player is still a boy. That night when he went to bed, he couldn't find Teddy (see Creatures of Comfort). Teddy has slept with him every night since he was a baby. My nine year old HAD to find Teddy, couldn't possibly sleep without him. When Teddy is unaccounted for, the whole house goes into high alert, as we all know how important he is. He was located and the bedtime routine continued.
I had to marvel at the two seemingly inconsistent sides of this wonderful boy. I know it is fleeting, that he will cross into adolescence soon. I'm just going to enjoy the age he is now, and the look of simple joy on his face for the two things he loves, baseball and Teddy.