Today my not-so-small monkey turns 12 at precisely 10:46 UK time, 18:46 Singapore time. Oddly, as the hour comes around so the film starts at the cinema where Mr PC and I will be spending a couple of hours tonight, on our own, as Jonah is away at scout camp and we therefore are celebrating tomorrow. This is why, while I woke this morning with happiness as I always do on his birthday (and lots of people’s birthdays) the other bit of me felt it a bit odd to be eyeing up a bag of wrapped gifts with no one to open them.
So Mr PC got up early and went for a bike ride all around the island, whizzing past Jonah’s scout camp right at the top of Singapore. And I hobbled my way around the block on a very poor 5k loop then came home and went back to bed for another half hour. Now we’re getting ready to go to the beach – a treat to lie on the sand, just us two, and pretend we’re on a proper holiday. While the scouts build rickety carts and have races, and jump in and out of a swamp lake then make smores and dampers, we’ll go food shopping, then to the cinema. Nice, but hardly the monkey-birthday of previous years.
I write posts about him on every birthday, giving a rundown of what he’s up to, but he’s getting harder to categorise and I might have touched on this last year. The older he gets the more this is the case, as it is with all just-12-year-olds. He’s by turns nicely amenable, very funny, loving and cuddly, then suddenly he’s a big moody Tasmanian devil, bending trees sideways like a Singapore storm. At home time he hurls his school bag through the door first then follows behind with a yelped hello and tucks into half a packet of biscuits, crumbs blowing over my neatly filed work papers (should have worked in my office, not at the dining table). In 10 minutes the bedroom door slams as he grudgingly does as he’s told and gets on with his homework. Half an hour later he emerges, happy again as he’s found the favourite pen he thought he’d lost. Dark again 15 minutes later when the piano lesson beckons. Keeping up with his moods is like trying to predict tropical storms. Just get a big umbrella.
He’s moral, and for all his moods he hates conflict. When asked to cut down on the number of guests invited to his birthday (I just couldn’t do another entire-class bash) he was unable to choose, so selected his best mate from outside school instead – really quite an adult decision and in fact it made for the perfect weekend. Great for my wallet too.
With the brain-stretching comes a deeper understanding and communication – we can barter better, talk at head height, present an idea in a way that makes sense to adults yet is still applicable to someone in Year 7. We can have really in-depth chats about stuff, and also share almost grown-up jokes. It’s lots of fun. We can also throw the mixing spoon across the living room but we try not to do that too often. As his brain makes room for an impossible number of new concepts, so speech depletes, and my chatty monkey is a lot less chatty than before (although I still need earplugs sometimes, which I’m half happy about).
If you follow this blog you’ll know that I posted a list of SM quotes when he turned nine, 10 and (as previously mentioned) 11. This year they’ve been few and far between but I had managed to jot down some – that was, until a stupid phone upgrade lost all my notes. As a result I’ve only got three to go on, but they’ll do:
Cheeky monkey at dinner:
Dad – “Manners maketh man, Jonah”
Jonah – ‘Oh wow, did you say hi to Shakespeare?’
Comforting monkey in parent role just before I join big new choir:
Me: ‘How do you know it will be OK?
Jonah: ‘To be honest I don’t. But it always turns out good in the end, doesn’t it?’
(and it did)
Eccentric Jonah, unable to bend one rogue toe for me to trim nails (and yes, he should be doing this himself by now):
‘I can’t be specific with my toes; they’re like a crew’
That’s it! Happy birthday my sweet scout, and see you tomorrow for that bag of goodies.
• Aw, just had a phone call from camp from the chattiest monkey ever, completely full of the most fun weekend. We put him on speaker phone and all three talked together. Never have I felt more like my own parents, in the days when a house had two dial phones and you rang home and both folks were on the line at the same time.
• 4 hours later – and now a call saying he’s wet through, miserable, and wants to come home. See?