09/29/2014 02:10 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

This is 11

It strikes me as funny that you've turned 11, my dear youngest child, because 11:11 has always been your magic time.

When this call to the magic hour of 11:11 got a hold on you, I can't remember. But it seems like for always that you've been looking up at the clocks, waiting for them to click to 11:11, and then whoosh, you say "11:11! Mama, time to do something magic!" And somehow, you always would -- just by looking at me with that smile, you would make my heart melt. Magic.

I remember a morning this past summer, driving home from the pool with nothing else on but our wet swimsuits and you caught the blue numbers on the car's dashboard clock begin to blink 11:11. "Mama! It's 11:11! Do something different!"


And so I did. I honked the horn, I steered with both knees while clapping, I did anything for you to work your magic smile on me. I put my hat on backwards and stuck my tongue out sideways, and you laughed your laugh that made my eyes sting with happy tears. Yes. 11:11. Magic.

You're 11 now. Your magic number 11.

11 is you still wanting to hold my hand.

11 is still able to fit together in a movie theatre seat, side by side.

11 is you, who still calls me mama.

11 is the time of magic unseen, but felt.

Just like you telling me, "Mama! It's 11:11! Do something different!" And so you do.

11 is you asking me to pack away the bedspread of dragons that you picked out for your room not so many years ago.

11 is you choosing to go with your oldest brother on rides now, instead of automatically reaching for my hand.

11 is me surprising you with a visit at school lunch time, and you thanking me for coming, then asking if it's all right if you go play with your friends, though.

11 is me telling you that of course it's OK. I understand you, being 11.

We went together and picked out a new solid orange bedspread for your room to replace the dragon one you once circled in the catalogue as having to have. It looks good in your room, I agree, just like you said, almost like a teenager's room. And I like that you want to do things more with your older brother now. It's important for you, and he'll be leaving for college in only a year's time.

You're 11 now. Things are going to change for you, but for now, 11 is still a magic number. For you and for me. And you work that magic every time you sneak downstairs after you've gone to bed, to find me here sitting in the computer's white light. You stand behind me, thinking I don't hear you, and you fling your arms around me. "Boo!" Did I surprise you, you want to know. Then you bend over to kiss me. I feel your warm breath against my ear and I close my eyes. You whisper, "Mama, it's 11:11! Do something magic!"

Oh, I have no need to, beautiful boy, you've already beat me to it.