I specifically remember the day we had this discussion - the one where you and I discussed staying 7 years old and not turning eight (or nine or ten or...) - in great detail. I suggested taping a brick to your head the way my grandpa used to promise to do to me and you just rolled your big brown eyes, crossed your arms and said defiantly "Mom, I'm turning eight whether you like it or not."
And today you are. Whether I like it or not.
You've never been one to listen; a quality that has been both a challenge and a secret admiration of mine. Your stubborness makes for some difficult headbutting but also makes me intensely proud of you as you are never a follower, never one to do what's easiest and you are always adamant about doing things your way, even if it means doing it by yourself. You have courage and bravery within you that you're not even aware of and I wish that at your age I could have been half as strong-willed and independent as you are now.
You are a young man (sigh) in an old man's body with the soul of someone who has been here many times before; wise beyond not just your years, but mine too. Your brain is constantly on; the gears consistently turning and you're humorously wise about holding back just how much you know until the right moment.
You hide from the camera and warn me "this is not for Facebook" when I am lucky enough to capture you in a snapshot. Yet your sense of humor is profoundly funny when you turn it on - usually when you're getting in trouble. "Oh c'mon Mom! You know you're laughing on the inside!" I almost always am.
The world around you as you know it is changing and while I attempt to only expose you to the very minimum, you know better. You haven't simply adjusted - you have stepped up and become the biggest help. At eight years old. I don't know how you know so much at such a young age but what I do know is I couldn't be prouder of you.
E, you are awesome, talented, intelligent and the coolest eight year old I know. Right now, coming from your mom, that probably doesn't mean a whole lot. But hopefully someday it will.
I love you, dude.