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1. "Sometimes when you have a problem, Fable, you will find that you are the solution," he says to Fable on the other side of the closed door, where the two of them are changing into their pajamas. I don't know what it was in reference to. Only that Archer went on to ask Fable questions about what the problem was exactly and how he could help her find a way to make it better.

And I kept my ear pressed against the door hoping to hear more, to gather more wisdom, to crash a class with my favorite professor.

Like so many other pieces of wisdom Archer has given me over the years, I have gone back to this one many times over the past few months.

"You are your own solution."
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2. He's not having a birthday party this year. He didn't want one. Kind of like last year when he invited two friends over and the year before when he only wanted to invite adults. This year he told us that he wanted to do nothing - to celebrate with his family and that was all. 

"Not even one friend?"

"No, Mom."

When we asked why he'd rather not he explained to us that he didn't want to upset anyone or hurt anyone's feelings. That he would feel terrible if someone felt left out. That people always feel left out and the alternative would be to invite everyone and everyone was too many. 

"Are you sure?"

"Yes."

"Are you sure?" I've asked repeatedly for the last six weeks.

"Yes, Mom. Birthday parties aren't for me." 

"Can I bring cupcakes to school at least?"

"Okay. Just make sure there are enough for everyone."

"Of course."

"Buy extras just in case."

"Of course."

"Goodnight, Mom."

"Goodnight."
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3. "Sometimes I feel like an old man on a bench feeding pigeons popcorn," he tells me as we sit at the table doing homework, his sisters trying to climb into his lap.

Which is exactly what he is.

Except the pigeons are all of us...
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4. "If you imagine something hard enough you can teach yourself how to do exactly what you're imagining," he told me, after I asked him how he learned to draw perspective in one of his many city drawings.
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5. When we were moving I stumbled upon Archer's baby book. I didn't even remember keeping one or putting one together for him but apparently I did a lot of things that I didn't remember because taped to the first page of the book was an envelope and in that envelope a collection of envelopes, dated and sealed and addressed to "Archer on his 18th birthday."

I had written him letters.

I had written him letters?

But what did they say?

I didn't open them. But I did manage to read one line front inside the white paper as I held it up to the light. 

"... love you like a dream has..."
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6. "The thing about women is that they like to stand on their own. Men like to be with someone all the time. Men don't like to be by themselves."

"What makes you say that, Archer?"

"Your friends. They all seem very independent. Like they don't need to be married or anything. I think boys want to get married more than women do. Boys are afraid of being alone."

"Why do you think that is?"

"Because we're very sensitive people."
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7. It's parent teacher conference day and I follow Archer through the classroom to his desk where a pile of projects are waiting. One of them is the report he's been working on for several months. An "All About" book where he gets to choose a subject to write about - something he is knowledgable in. Something that interests him. Something he can teach his peers about in a presentation. 

His best friend is doing his report about sharks and the girl who sits next to him is doing fashion and the boy who sits next to her displays: ALL ABOUT CARS. 

"It's not quite finished yet but I'm getting there," Archer says, before passing the pile of stapled pages to me. "ALL ABOUT MOMS" it says on its cover above a collection of portraits of moms taking care of babies and children. Playing on the floor. Reading stories before bed. Standing somewhat awkwardly in front of computer screens. 

I don't want to make a big deal out of it because I can tell he doesn't want me to. This is who he is. This is who he's always been. He's the boy who writes a nine page report all about moms. And I get to be in the pictures. 

I get to be in the pictures with him by my side and eight years of moments like this one with him on my lap reading me the table of contents of his first book. 

"You want to know about moms? Well, you've come to the right place," he reads aloud, his legs hanging off of mine and touching the ground. 

He's right. I have.
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8. Signs are my religion. Moments are my churches - infinite and everywhere. Eight years ago, I gave birth to a little old man on a park bench feeding pigeons. And I was one of them. I still am and always will be. Ears pressed up against the doors of his world, taking notes on the back of my hand.

I look back and I gasp and sigh and dance and cheer and order cupcakes and wrap little toy cars for him to build cities around. I watch him smile and the world becomes this place of wonder... joy infinite. Joy infinity. Figure eight. Mobius. Ageless. Archer.

And every day when I feel afraid, or overwhelmed or completely out of my mind, I turn to him, -- my son - the Archer who has always seen his mark on the path of the infinite - who, for the last eight years has bent us with his might that our arrows may go swift and far. And, with his help, continue to fly...
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Eight years ago, so-called problems became solutions - overwhelming and poetic and frightening and life affirming and where would we be if it wasn't for you - if it wasn't for all of these moments and you in them and all of the love you have given us and the world. There would be no us. No sisters. No home. No marriage. There would be no family...

Without that main sail there would be no ship.
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Happy Birthday, my beautiful boy. Love you like a dream has... 
photo-3 photo-2photo-1 (We all do.)

GGC

3 comments:

joan1981 | 12:14 AM

Beautiful! Happy birthday, Archer! X Joan

Jhope | 5:30 PM

this kiddo breaks my heart a million times over. happy birthday, Archer.

Melissa Bartusch | 11:12 PM

HOLYSMOKES, Rebecca. The moments you captured here, and the words you chose -- those borrowed from Archer and your own -- are simply magical. I am so touched. Thanks for sharing your life with us in these beautiful photos and words. It's such a gift.