You are suddenly so much taller, so much smarter, just so much older at age 8. This last year, you have grown several inches, but you've grown so much more than just in height.
You want to be with your friends much more, jumping at every chance to be with them. You don't want to watch Disney movies with me anymore, preferring Pokemon and Merlin on Netflix. You don't really want to read with me at night anymore - at least that's what you say, until I find you snuggled next to me on the couch.
Despite all this new independence you're demonstrating, for your birthday this year, you asked for "just a nice party with my family."
So we had a dinner with just us. A Minecraft cake (that melted a little in our hot, end of summer kitchen.) A wagon full of gifts. Silly string fights in the back yard.
The next day, I let you play hokey from school and spend a whole day with just me. It felt like such a luxury for both of us. For you, a whole day where you didn't feel the need to compete for conversation with your older brother or protect all your things from your younger brother. For me, a whole day getting to enjoy this new, older you.
We went ice skating, and had the entire rink to ourselves. We played tag and had races and were just silly.
We went out to lunch at the fancy restaurant you had requested and I let you order a caffeinated soda. We ate monster-sized burgers and stole french fries off each other's plates.
I had the time to realize that even though, with each blink of my eyes, you are older and new and different, you are actually still the same Monkey. Just now, 8 years. And I'm just as luck to be your mom now as I ever have been.