Editor's note: There is so much about our family life that I want to capture right now. Each child is at a unique age and stage with special characteristics I want to remember. Because I am in the thick of compiling memory books for each of my kids and want their histories to be personal, I'll address each of the posts in this series to the child described. Changing the pronouns and tenses from blog format to memory book format is so labor-intensive!
Zach, when you were approaching 9 1/2, your personality was developing new traits. You demanded privacy much more often than you used to and were increasingly conscious about your personal appearance. You no longer allowed me to touch your hair and had decided opinions about what you wore. (I still offered input on matching and cleanliness, but mostly kept quiet.) You were losing teeth like crazy; in March you had five that were just barely growing in. You were definitely a warm-blooded creature; any temperature above 10 degrees demanded shorts and short sleeves. You complained whenever I asked you to wear a jacket, even with snow on the ground. I'm not sure why I bought you pants, except to satisfy my own conscience.
You had also entered the messy bedroom phase. Your room was always a wreck, with clothes and toys strewn about everywhere. However, when I asked you to clean it, I could tell you had internalized the mantra "a place for everything, and everything in its place." You did a great job cleaning your room! And I chuckled every time I hung clothes in your closet. You organized your shirts by color! You were quite capable around the house, so when you earned chores (like vacuuming, bathrooms, dishes, laundry) for bad behavior, you were usually done pretty quickly! You were learning that skipping the epic complaint session before getting to work was more efficient.
At that age you could be extremely contrary. Most of the time it seemed you were contrary just for the sake of being contrary! One of your most common phrases was, "Oh, come on!" This was quite an exasperating phase, although sometimes your stubborn refusal to comply with any behavior or attitude standard really made me laugh. You also had a very sweet and caring side. Occasionally you offered a spontaneous hug that melted my heart. You would play in the backyard with Gavin and Lexi if I asked you to entertain them. You were often the first person to initiate our "best part/worst part" dinner conversation at night and seemed genuinely interested in what was going on in the lives of your parents and siblings. One night you mixed your opposing tendencies by inquiring about others and then declaring that you were going to become a professional video gamer instead of serving a full-time mission for our church!
Since you were getting older and developing the ability to sleep past 5:00 a.m., you finally got to stay up a little later than your siblings. Every night you still got in bed before 8:00, but you stayed up to read for an hour or two. I was completely thrilled that a fiction series at last captured your interest. I read The Lightning Thief to you last summer and you received the rest of the Percy Jackson series (five books) for your birthday. However, it wasn't until March that you actually read them! You thought a book longer than 75 pages was just too laborious, but the chance to read at night finally turned the tide and you devoured the books. In just a few weeks you read the remaining four books, and then looked forward to a follow-up series by the same author. I loved that you were expanding your horizons a bit.
Your parent/teacher conferences in March were fantastic. It was so wonderful for Dad and I to hear about the great things you were doing in school. One recurring theme, however, came from your reading teacher: "Zach knows a LOT more than he is willing to share." Ha! As a third-grader you were in fourth grade math and reading classes. You didn't like investing your full effort. I suspected that was because you didn't want even more to be expected of your brilliant mind. We offered incentives for improved classwork on a weekly basis and a bigger end-of-semester reward if you began working harder toward your potential.
One thing that hadn't changed was your need for physical activity. You started enjoying our front yard basketball hoop and would recruit neighbor boys to play "horse." You were astonished when I reminded you that you had refused to join a basketball league at the local YMCA in December. You loved to climb trees, run around outside, ride your bike, and dig in our sand pit to create forts for your plastic army guys. At school you spent recess dominating the four-square court and the soccer field. You also liked to run on the treadmill at home and looked forward to the upcoming track season.
You were growing up into a wonderful young man!