When someone else gets hurt -- be it a skinned knee or bruised feelings -- Ezra feels it. And I mean feels it, physically, to the point of tears. He then rushes to fix things, to make things feel better. Ice packs, Band-Aids, some candy, a dollar, a promise to always be your friend.
His best friend in the entire world is a little girl who lives up the street. We took a trip to the Poconos this weekend for his birthday and he spent almost all of his birthday money to buy her something from the gift shop. He likes buying presents for people. "I feel their happy," he says.
One time she went away and brought him back a snow globe. He accidentally dropped it on the bus and it broke. His heart shattered right along with it. "It was so beautiful," he wept into my shoulder.
He's stopped ordering off the children's menu (unless there are corn dogs; he really loves corn dogs) because he wants to eat things that look more like what he sees on cooking shows. (Obviously he's a big Masterchef Junior fan.) Helping with dinner isn't enough anymore, he wants to makes things all by himself, start to finish. He rummages around in the fridge, looking for inspiration, inspecting the avocados and asking if tomatoes taste good with eggs, or if there is such a thing as a cucumber taco. He documents and illustrates his creations and ideas in highly detailed recipes (though he lets me sort out the details sometimes, as he comes up with a lot of ideas for pies and soups that I end up reverse-engineering for him a bit).
He doesn't want to be a chef when he grows up, however. He wants to be a writer, albeit a writer who cooks for his family (which may or may not include the little girl who lives up the street). He wants to be a writer because I'm a writer. "I want to be just like you when I grow up," he told me.
His sense of justice and fairness is strong. He won't watch movies where anyone dies. No one is allowed to mess with his brothers, except him, sometimes, since Noah can be mean and Ike can be annoying but he will do anything and everything for them, whenever it really counts. He feels their pain or distress on an especially high level.
I used to worry what would happen to such a gentle, empathetic soul out in the harsh real world, especially growing up as a super-duper sensitive kid myself. But at nine, Ezra has boundless self-confidence and optimism. He loves to try new things (foods! violin! go-karts!) and meet new people, new friends. He is comfortable in his own skin, in being who he is. And why wouldn't he be?
"I'm the kind kid," he says, when asked to describe himself. "It's good to be the kind kid."