Archer Sage, age 5
A few weeks ago, I took Archer to get new shoes after school. Moments after entering the shoe store he disappeared around the corner and quickly, decisively returned moments later clutching a purple and orange high-top.
"These," he said. "I want these."
So we bought them, and out the store we went.
The next day Archer wore his new shoes to school, excited, he said, to show them to his friends.
"I bet everyone's going to think they're so awesome."
"Of course they will. Hello!"
Except they didn't.
"Nobody liked them," Archer said, getting into the car after school. "Nobody liked my shoes."
"What? Are they crazy? Those shoes are way the coolest!"
Archer shrugged. "I know," he said. Nobody likes them but it's okay mom. Know why? Because I like them? I think they're cool."
That was the last we ever talked about the shoes. He's worn them every day since. Happily and with pride even if the boys at school think "they're for girls because they're purple and boys don't wear purple! Girls do!"
At first I wanted to take credit for his ability to be unaffected by the criticism of his peers. But I could never do what Archer does. Even now, try as I might, I care what people think. Not as much as I used to, but its there. But not for Archer. Not even slightly.
It blows my mind. It blows my mind when he says things like this. It blows my mind that not two years ago he was just starting to speak. That he was timid and shy and unable to express himself vocally. It blows my mind that every night before bed, he tells ME a story. (Tonight's was about a turtle who moved his treehouse to Mercury.)
A few months back Archer said to me, "everyone's going in a different direction but know what? Everyone's trying to get to the same place."
He was referring to the cars at the four-way stop sign. But he was right. So completely and totally right and now? Whenever I find myself frustrated or angry at people, friends, strangers, even family - I remind myself that we're all going in different directions, trying to get to the same place. And then I feel better. Am able to empathize with people I used to misunderstand.
Archer does that. He empathizes and understands and guides and says crazy perceptive things that change the way I see myself and the world.
Today, Archer is five. An entire hand of years and time that has slipped by and slowed my every moment all at once. One. Two. Three. Four. Five.
My sadness mourning my baby gone can only be matched by the joy I feel watching him grow into a self-assured, life-loving boy. Every day he wakes me up with love and kindness and new ideas.
When I gave birth to Archer, I was suddenly changed. He changed me. He changes me. I tell him this all the time and he pushes me away, rolls his eyes, shakes his head. But then? He hugs me.
It's cliche for me to say I don't believe in fate and I don't, but Archer, for me, personifies the brilliance of the unexpected - the poetry in the unplanned. He is the unlikely path, unpaved. He is what it means to go with gut. To persevere no matter what people say. To change and grow and redefine. To
follow LEAD one's heart. And looking at him, for me, means looking at what happens when life interrupts with beautiful knocking hands.
I may hold his hand when we cross the street but the truth is? For the last five years it's been me in need of assistance from one side of the road to another. And Archer who has led me in all the right directions.
He is my shepherd. The bow to my arrow. The bearer of possibilities endless and good.
The other day, we were building Legos together and after five frustrating minutes of me looking for the hook he asked me to find, Archer threw up his hands and found it for me.
"What would I do without you?" I asked.
"Well?" he said. "You probably would have a hard time building a lego fort."
"But don't worry, mom." he said. "I'm here to help you."
"Buggy?" I said. "You have no idea."
"Buggy?" I said. "You have no idea."
Happy Birthday, Archer, sage. Thank you for giving me five.