Fourteen. Fourteen! Fourteen?!
Then why do I remember exactly how I felt at this moment in time?
I still feel like a new mom—like someone who can’t believe I have been given this beautiful, perfect little human to have and to hold dear.
It looks like this now.
But it feels like this.
Vincenzo at 14 is not all that different than Vincenzo at 13 or 12 or 11. There must be changes every year because he’s no longer the baby who cracks up at the word “beef” or the boy in a leopard print cape, but personality is kind of like height—you don’t see the differences day to day, but they all add up to something over the years. So today I’ll try to capture a snapshot of Vincenzo’s Personality, age 14.
The best place to start is with his sleeping habits.
He loves to come home from school, put music on his headphones (usually the Tetris theme on repeat), zip himself into his Beddy, play video games on his phone, and drift in and out of sleep until dinner. I don’t get it. But I have come to understand that he needs this time as much as his phone needs to be charged twice a day. Still, it feels weird to yell, “Vincenzo, unzip yourself and come to dinner!”
We call his room the cave and we call him a cavie.
He nicknamed himself “D” sometime around when I started this blog. We still call him Sleepy D.
When I showed him the next picture he had no idea who it was and no recollection of having spent a half hour laying on the ground at a public park, looking like a murder victim.
Sometimes, however, Vincenzo is awake!
At least I think he’s awake here. He could just be faking it.
Other than being incredibly sleepy, he is also incredibly hungry. (Maybe we haven’t come as as far from his newborn days as I thought.) Mere minutes after eating a gigantic dinner, he asks if he can go get a footlong from Subway. I shake my head because I don’t get it but I say yes because he’s a man of 14 now. He walks to Subway, buys himself a footlong, comes home and says, “I’m hungry. Can I go get a footlong?”
So Vincenzo is sleepy and hungry, but above all, he is a sweetheart. He’s the last one in line for a piece of cake and the first one to offer a piece to you.
(He doesn’t really like cake.)
(Totally kidding—he likes cake.)
(Especially if it comes in the form of a footlong.)
I’m trying to get him to cook more, which is hilarious, horrific, and sometimes delicious. It’s going to take a long time to recover from the Tuna Sandwich Incident of Last Week. I wish I had pictures of what he did to that loaf of bread and the mess that stretched from one end of the kitchen all the way to the Atlantic, but I went straight into disaster relief mode and didn’t take any. The tuna sandwich, however, was delicious.
He hangs out with a group of boys that is the best kind of immature. Not the fart-on-each-other’s-faces kind of immature; the spend-a-birthday-party-playing-hide-and-seek kind of immature. A group of boys that loves being kids so much they figure why stop now?
Vincenzo babysits. He cat-sits. He sits on a lot of things in general.
Note that he is sitting on them but not farting on them. That would be immature.
Vincenzo’s ego never gets in the way of a good time. He’ll put on Leo’s jacket, squat down to lawn gnome size, and chase his brothers around the school gym. He’ll spend hours building forts with his cousins then pretend to sell fancy espresso drinks from them. He’ll come into the living room looking like this, saying, “WASSUP?!”
I’ll tell him to change; we have company coming over.
He’s learned that his mom is sometimes reasonable but sometimes also not reasonable. He deals with my unreasonable moments in the same way Kevin does: by making fun of me. Like the other day, when I asked for him to help me lift something in the garage and ended up having to do it myself. We headed back into the house at odds with each other and he said, “What? You asked me to come help you lift some heavy stuff, then you lifted it up yourself and said, ‘Oh ! It’s really light,’ and then you made fun of me for being too weak to lift it.” He wasn’t wrong.
(Also: he skipped over the part where he saw a spider, screamed like a schoolgirl, and dropped the thing I had asked him to hold.)
He has his salty moments, too. Like the other day, he was upset with the soccer sock drawer. “Someone needs to organize this! All the socks are mismatched!” I said maybe he could be that someone and he said he didn’t have time. I said maybe he could ask for it for his birthday, and was genuinely mad. “It’s not funny, Mom,” he said. I said it was a little funny. He sounded very mad when he said again, “It’s not funny!” (In the end, I did not organize the sock drawer because I didn’t want him to be mad at me on his birthday. I’m so thoughtful!)
Awww–isn’t it cute when your kids pretend they’re smoking?
Oh, and he has a thing for digging.
So that’s Vincenzo in a nutshell, and also in a gigantic hole.
I think back 14 years to my grueling labor with him, of the flood of people coming into the room, holding my hands and counting my breaths. Of thinking I could, of thinking I couldn’t, of somehow doing it anyway, and of being handed a tiny, squinty-eyed creature that didn’t look a thing like the round-cheeked, powder puff babies of diaper commercials. He was so much tinier and frailer and redder than I could ever imagine a human to be.
The minute they put him in my arms was the minute I realized I had no idea what I was doing.
And it was also the moment I realized there was a lot of stitching going on down there. A lot of stitching.
But that’s beside the point. The point is that I loved that little baby whose heart beat strongest the closer it was to mine. He knew who I was before even I did, and he trusted me with every drop of his being. All those drops amounted to ocean upon ocean of love, flowing this way, flowing that, flowing this way, flowing that.
Vincenzo is all love. All love, a little salt, and the best kind of good there is.
Every time my dad comes over, he says at some point that Vincenzo is a “neat kid.” It’s the understatement of the year, which why it’s the perfect way to describe my boy.
He is sweet, smart humble, patient, kind, ridiculous, good-hearted, and thoughtful.
And just a neat kid.
WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Chicken pot pie