You are ten years old! TEN YEARS OLD! Somehow, despite the fact that your brother is thirteen and your sister is nearly twelve, you are the one that I can’t believe is still growing. What happened to the Leaf Baby? What happened to the little boy who used to rub mango all over his face like it was some sort of facial mask? The boy who fell face-first into a cow pie or who used to wear a cape 24/7?
Wait—he’s still in there. Yes, he’s there, the little crazy Leafy boy.
“Oh, Leafy.” We say it a lot, dear one. Because you are always surprising us. Your mind is a wild jungle that has amazing fruit, and occasionally you bring it to us as a little gift, as though to say, “Here is something odd and delightful.”
You love to cook, and you especially love to come up with sauces and concoctions that you call SIM. (Stuff I Made.) You come to me every day to ask me if you can make some SIM, which at the moment is something made with milk and yogurt and jam, which you freeze and eat like ice cream. You have made your own, crepe-like, pancake recipe. You make salad dressing and something we call Leafy sauce, which is a pancake topping so delicious that I’ve seen your dad eating it out of the bowl. (Butter and honey and lemon.) If I tell you that I don’t want you in the kitchen at that moment, it is a little bit as though your life is coming to an end, that’s how much it means to you.
You’ve also started to make movies, recently. I watch them and am in awe, though they are still very simple. But they come out of you, someone I MADE, so you can understand my feelings about them. I especially like one you made recently, called, Dinosaur Chase which involved many creative shots of you leaping over things and coming to the camera all shaky, running from an unseen foe, and also a shot of you journaling about it with a voiceover at the end. SO GOOD. It’s as though you have no limits. You look at what you have and then you start to make something with it. You come up with your ideas on your own and figure out what you need. You volunteer to go to the store to buy things if we have run out of something you need. You’re a starter, kid. It’s a good way to be.
You read voraciously. You are kind. I might come out of the studio and into the kitchen to find you making breakfast on a tray. “I’m bringing Kenya breakfast in bed,” you will say. Just because.
And funny. Oh my goodness. Nothing can knock your dad out of his chair with laughter like a Leafy statement. You are hilarious.
Here’s a tiny example of a very normal interaction between you and me. The only thing I can’t insert is your timing, your incredible intonation and the way you tilt your head and move a little jerkily, in your own way, all your own.
Leafy: (As we are eating nachos with salsa.) “I see you made your old fluffy salsa.”
Mama: “Yeah, I didn’t mean to. I think I ran the blender too long.”
Leafy: “I like your old fluffy salsa just the same as I like your other salsa.”
Mama: “Oh. Thanks!”
Leafy: “It’s just like how I like Kai and Kenya the same, but different. I wouldn’t want to only have one of them for a really long time and never seethe other one for a really long time or ever again.”
Here’s another from the other day. I was dealing with a tantruming Isaac in my room and you came in, threw your hands up, and announced, “I don’t know if this is a good time, but I have diarrhea!” And then you left. And dear one, for the rest of my days, I will treasure you at ten. And I hope your belly feels better soon.