Vincenzo, Age 11, is a bit of a blank slate. He can’t tell you what he wants to eat for dinner; he can’t decide between watching a movie or playing a board game; he doesn’t know whether to go with the shiny gold Converse or the black snakeskin Vans. It’s actually painful for him if you force him to just pick something already! He really just doesn’t have many opinions.
(Gold Converse. Lord knows how he ever came to a decision.)
He had a hard time deciding who to invite to his party because he is friends with everyone. Everyone! He’s always had this ability to walk into a room and instantly love and be loved by everyone in it.
That probably makes you think he’s the life of the party. He’s not, though. He’s not loud and out there; he’s quiet and funny in the same dorky way his mom was when she was his age. He’s the one boy in this family I am always telling, “Speak up! I can’t hear you!” As long as he doesn’t have a book in his hand, he is as happy spending a party building block towers for a baby to knock down as he is charging around the house and yard shooting kid with Nerf guns. He always finds what he has in common with the person sitting next to him and just goes from there.
Of course, if he has a book in his hand he will sit down on the couch and the whole party will happen and confetti will be thrown and air horns will be sounded and all the guests will eventually leave, and then he will look up from his book and say, “Weren’t we going to have a party today?”
He reads a 500-page book cover to cover, then flips back to page one and starts over again. In the car, he has read to the point that he got car sick and we had to pull over for him to throw up. He got back in the car, we started driving, then looked back to see him nose-deep in his book again.
When he gets home from school Vincenzo heads straight outside to work on building a fairy house. I have no idea how he got the idea to build fairy houses or what fuels him on, but after so many hours and days of work, it’s gotten pretty impressive.
Okay, so it might not look like much to us but whatever is in Vincenzo’s head is bigger than anything you or I could ever imagine.
We got him a little upgrade for his birthday.
He plays sports but is not aggressive or fanatic about them. He just plays for the fun of it. This is a concept that is very hard for his mom to understand, but she is slowly starting to see how life is actually a bit more enjoyable if you aren’t constantly comparing yourself to Olympic athletes. He doesn’t compare himself to anyone, really; he just lives in the moment and is very happy with whatever particular moment he is in.
Vincenzo and his best friend spend hours just sitting next to each other discussing the concepts infinity, black holes and worm holes, dark matter, time travel, and the possibility of white holes. Then they go to soccer practice and run around with the cones on their heads.
Vincenzo will never be too cool for the kiddie rides.
Last year I asked him why he wanted to play basketball again and he said because he loves the end-of-the-year party at Dairy Queen. He played a whole season of basketball just to have one extra hour with his friends.
He likes to help in the kitchen. The other day he made Dutch babies, and they turned out beautifully despite the fact that he tried to attach the Cuisenart top to the blender bottom, he measured salt by sprinkling it from the shaker into the teaspoon, and he cracked an egg right onto the counter. He laughed along with us when we laughed at him.
He has been in swim lessons forever and can just this year swim a lap across the pool. His inability to swim doesn’t stop him from jumping in, though.
But never without his Chastity Goggles.
(Wish I had a better picture, but even from far away it’s clear those goggles are doing him no favors.)
When he was a toddler, he never wanted to be tucked in the normal way. He had us build him a nest that he would sleep inside, like a baby bird. Now that he’s older he has become responsible for a herd of stuffed animals that take up most of the bed, so Vincenzo sleeps at the foot of the bed like a tired parent.
He loses things a lot—a minimum of one jacket and one sweatshirt per year. I’ll wave good-bye to the boys on the bus, then look down to see his backpack on the ground beside me. Back at home Leo will put his jacket away and ask, “Why is there a lunch in the closet?” He gets off the bus in the afternoon and I say, “Where’s your sweatshirt?”
There’s always just one answer:
But it doesn’t bother him. He is still the calm, sweet, no worries, just smile-and-nod, lovable guy he’s been from the day he was born.
He’s just so very much himself, and I love him with all the love a mother can have for her son. Infinity doesn’t even come close.
WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Tomato and roasted red pepper soup
Buttered green beans
Candy corn brownies