And this last weekend I watched him play basketball like I do every Saturday. Two weeks ago he finally scored and since then he has been a different player: aggressive when he gets the ball, driving to the hoop each time, and following his shot. This shows his learning. What hasn’t changed is his attitude and sportsmanship. He is the first to tell his team great job, and also the first to recognize a good job on the opposition. He sprints out to give his coach a high five each game, and runs over to give him one when he scores. This week, though, I saw his heart on the floor.Because the players are in third and fourth grades, they are still learning the basics of the game. Leo’s teammate shot it in the wrong basket, for the other team, even with the crowd, his coach, and players all yelling not to. This child was furious when it went in and he realized he scored for the other team. Leo ran over to him, put his arm around him and ran down the floor next to him saying, “It’s alright man. We got this.” They ended up losing by one point. Leo did not say on the way home that it was his buddy’s fault. He said, “Man, I feel like Grand Blanc must’ve felt last night losing to Carman by one. We played hard but just not hard enough.” This man child is really something special.
Over the course of this last year he has established himself as a big brother of two little ladies, both bossy, but he stays gentle. He cares for Isla more than any of us. Pearl, on the other hand, will be his best friend one hour and his nemesis the next. They are too much alike to see eye to eye but love each other unconditionally. Lately Claire is more empathetic toward him so they like to snuggle in and watch a movie or play Minecraft together.Games are this guy’s main hobby. He loves talking and comparing games and characters. His favorite store is Retro Replay which papa takes him to anytime he visits. I think coding or technology is in his future.For his ten year trip, Leo has decided to visit LA in October. He wants to do some touristy things, like shop and see the Hollywood sign. He also wants to visit his Uncle Tanner, Aunt Ley and cousin Maggie, then tour Discovery or Universal studios. He plans on watching a Lakers game with his dad or hitting up a day or two of Comic Con. He has plans but is so open to adventure, it will be a riot hearing about him discovering an unfamiliar city.Earlier this year he told me about a great new radio station called 92.7. I was like, “New? What do you mean?” He responded, “Oh you will love it mom. They play 90s rap, hip hop, even Eminem.” I laughed so hard because he really thought he was sharing something new with me, and here I am kicking myself that this kid is 9 and hasn’t heard of my favorite Flint radio station. To be fair I usually have it on NPR for my daily news intake. Leo is such a fan of music, particularly Marshall which keeps him begging to watch 8 mile, but also dubstep and more modern rap. He also sings in the choir. He loves playing with instruments and has asked to try the violin like his big sister next year.Leo also enjoy the outdoors. Recently he received his Uncle Tanner’s grappling hook and has already tested throwing it and swinging from it like I remember doing with my brother. Even though it was snowy out, he had to see if his weight would hold off the playscape in our backyard. I just warned what comes up also comes down, so be sure to get out of the way!In ten years this boy has stolen my heart and taught me so much about love, patience, and sensitivity. He has helped me redefine what being male means…and how society is so quick to label boys as aggressive and tough. This tender heart is going to change the world for the better…and I know this because he has already changed mine.