Raph is one of those children who was born with an old soul. You forget sometimes when you talk to him that he is only 6 years old. He's such a sweet and empathetic boy that he just exudes comfort. I swear that boy is so magnetic that you cannot escape his pull. He's far from perfect and has his own share of trouble but he is charismatic and wise beyond his years.
A few weeks ago he was chattering away in the back seat on the way home from soccer. He was talking about how when they (he, Colin and Heidi) were older Mike and I could stay home to hand out candy on Halloween. Then he said, "How old do you have to be to drive?" "Sixteen." "Well, maybe when I'm 16 I can take Colin and Heidi trick-or-treating so that you and Daddy can stay home. I'll just drive them around and bring them home when they are finished." I said that would be nice of him and I could see those wheels spinning in his little mind and he continues, "When I'm older and I don't live with you anymore I will just ask for one thing before I leave. I will ask for a picture of you and Daddy so I can put it on my counter. Then when I see it I can think of you. And, Mommy, I will always come see you on your birthday."
Dear Lord I nearly ran off the road right then and there in a heap of tears. How can someone so little say such moving things? He said this all with such fierce emotion that you know he was deeply sadden at the thought of leaving us but knew it was an eventuality. We've had tearful conversations about what happens after High School. He was reduced to sobbing when he found out that when you go to college you move out and likely (hopefully) don't ever move back in again. He told me that he never wanted to go to college. Wellllll, that's not the answer either because eventually you do have to move out on your own and then you can have your own family.
The prospect of having his own family always delights Raph. He's got such a nurturing way about him that I have no doubt he will be a wonderful father. He gets so excited to think about having his own babies some day. I remind him of this when he tells me that, "We should have just one more baby then we can be done. Just one more girl baby so its fair then we can be done." Um, WE?! No, I am finished having babies but you can have your own babies some day thank-you-very-much.
He is caring and empathetic beyond his years. Once when I was pregnant with Colin and so very very sick I had Raph lay down with me to take a nap. He was bouncing around in the bed so I put my arm over him to kind of pin him down long enough for him to fall asleep. He then started to caress my arm and kind of whisper "shhh" because he knew I was sick. He was so gentle that I fell asleep. I woke myself thinking, "Geez I'm the adult here! I need to wait until he's asleep before dozing off!" He continued his soothing until he fell asleep. He was 2. Can you imagine what he will be like when he's 22?
Just last week I had one of those knock-you-on-your-ass migraines. I got up after being in bed for a few hours and he saw me walk into the room. His face full of worry he ran over to me, "Oh Mommy are you feeling better?" I told him I was much improved and he gave me a big hug and kiss and said, "I'm so happy you are feeling better."
Recently I was thinking about Heidi. That day no less than 10 people stopped me (some even gasped) to tell me how beautiful she was. I was pondering this and jokingly told Raph, "You need to watch out for your sister when she gets older." Raph's little face got so serious and he almost whispered, "I will always take care of her. I won't let anything every happen to my baby sister." I don't doubt him for one minute. I do pity those boys who come to see her when she's older. They will have a rough road to get through to her. Even Colin is protective of her in his own way. If someone treats her badly there will be hell to pay from my boys, especially from Raph who's loved her since before she was born.
Raph is so sincere and compassionate and thinks so far in advance that its amazing to me. He draws conclusions that he should not because he is only 6. He worries for people when they are feeling ill or sad. He soothes those in need and cheers on the victories of others. He's a sweet old soul and I hope he never loses that quality. I would hate to live in the world of a jaded Raph. It seems impossible to think of that every happening, though it certainly could. For now, I just enjoy him for who he is and know that someday he will make someone very happy...and she will be lucky to have him.