“One more sleep!”
This year, understanding took root. Phineas’ birthday is December 1, and he has been anticipating it with the kind of passion that only a person with no real concept of time can muster.
“When I wake up, it will be my birthday!”
Yes, yes it will.
Phineas is 11 this year. I forget all the time what 11 “should” look like, because Phin is Phin, and his age is just a number around here, not a reflection of expectations. But every once in a while, I’ll be jerked back to reality, where 11 year-old boys are learning to whittle with pocket knives and are counting down the days until they’ll be let loose on Tolkien and finally get to read about some real battles. Eleven for Phin looks much different. Just as beautiful, but different.
Phin at 11 is a wide-open grin. An overflow of joy at the simplest of things. An eager anticipation of a small blessing. A stubborn refusal to conform to the limitations expected, or to bow to outside pressure.
Phin is blossoming. At his own pace, unevenly, and in fits and starts. At 11, he is unable to think a week out, or to grasp the rules of a board game. But he is the sweet, encouraging voice that tells Jude how to make the train tracks snake under the stairs, and the hysterical giggle trying to convince me that he ate my ear.
There is much he is not, but so much more that he is.
Every year, I am reminded that I could have missed this. We— his family— could have been denied the joy of his inclusion here among us had his birthmother chosen not to carry him, or had any of a million other wrong turns been taken. And this is where I catch my breath and feel the weight of an Ephesians 2:4 moment: But, God.
God knows “should.” Even more so, He controls “is.” Today, of all days, I thank him for that rich mercy.