Leo, Age 11

Leo had a birthday last month, so this blog post feels like a late assignment. Can I still get full credit on it?


One big breath and suddenly he’s 11. Gangly, skinny, strings-for-arms Leo—the fifth grader who makes funny faces whenever the camera’s on, who runs like a newborn giraffe, and who is sweet on stuffed animals and games of physical violence.



How to sum up Leonardo da Beto, as he calls himself? Well, to start with, his eating habits could be better. He waits for dinner to be done so he can scrape it all into the yard waste then go to his room to “read,” which sounds like a whole lot of candy wrappers crinkling. In fact, all he asked for his birthday was candy. Thank goodness he got so much; now he can eat in March.

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His science experiment was about cotton candy, because of course he has a cotton candy maker. What did you think he eats for lunch?



(Originally there was a bag of cotton candy hanging in the blank spot, but he ate it.)


When I told him we were going to get cats in October, he said, “And who’s going to clean the litter box?” like he was the parent and I was the child. “I’ll clean the litterbox,” I said. “I’ll clean their litterbox, I’ll feed them, I’ll clip their nails, and I’ll play with them.” So who does Matcha choose to snuggle with?

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She wants absolutely nothing to do with me. She found a kindred spirit in Leo.

Leo sometimes gets picked last for kickball, but he still loves playing. He got a smaller role in the play this year and said, “They probably thought the bigger roles weren’t exciting enough for me.” He loves reading but insists he doesn’t. He likes soccer and videogames. He refuses to wear pants.


Leo still gets bigtime emotional now and then. He can’t be rushed and can’t be asked to do too many things at once. He has a hard time with constructive criticism. Sometimes we have to tiptoe around him.


But usually he is happy.


Really happy.


Sometimes he is blonde.


Sometimes unicorn-y.


But always, always, he is my baby because that’s what’s happens when you’re born in last place.

Or, as Leo would say, Best Place.


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