on the heartbreaking ordinariness of my nephew’s fourteenth birthday party

It seems like just yesterday he was a little lump and now he’s a little dude! Fourteen years sounds like a long time but it’s flown by. He is getting taller, not a big growth spurt yet, but the planes of his face are changing, and he has some very mature moments. In other ways he’s still a boy (does that ever go away?) and so young it almost hurts sometimes.

December birthday, so eighth grade, although some of the boys he plays baseball with are freshman this year. One is there, the rest are eighth graders with my nephew, a mix of baseball and school friends, with an easy camaraderie of having known each other for a while.

Maybe it’s different at school, but they don’t seem to have solidified into cliques or roles, either things others expect of them or that they put on themselves. It’s bittersweet, here on the cusp of high school. What will next year bring? Will these boys still be friends and enjoy each other’s company with the same ease?

From way on the other side of those years I want to shake them, tell them to hold on to this, or at least recognize the specialness of this perfectly ordinary afternoon bowling. But I keep it to myself, I’m already enough the crazy aunt. They will, in one way or another, have this, and that thought keeps me from crying.

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