Oh, my sweet boy.
How on earth did you reach five so quickly? You were just born.
And yet, here you are, trundling along through the years, suddenly no longer a toddler by any set of measurements I can find – and believe me, I’ve looked. You’re growing, as you chortle delightedly to me on a regular basis, whether I’m ready or not.
On the one hand, this lightning-speed growth and development breaks my heart, because every age, every developmental phase you’ve gone through has been my favorite. I’ve never felt the need to fast-forward, rush onto the next thing, because the current thing is too boring or obnoxious or hard. On the contrary, I wish that life had a big Pause button, just to stretch a few days out a little bit longer.
On the other hand, your lightning-speed thrills me and makes me proud, because every age, every developmental phase you’ve gone through has been my favorite. I can’t wait to see how you’ll branch out next, what new thought or skill or talent you’ll reveal. You’re such a deep, deep well, with depths and mysteries and stuff going on below the surface, and I’m continually delighted by your surprises and insights. I look forward to the next thing, because you always find a way to make that next thing fun and special and exciting.
Your heart, Jacob. Your heart is just so big. You have such a sweet, caring, mellow disposition, a fundamentally Zen outlook, that shines through even as you go ahead and show age-appropriate frustrations and temper. If you were mellow and Zen all the time, I might start to worry about your ability to stand up for yourself, or your awareness of the world around you. But you show that core strength, that will, that willingness to thwack your sister upside the head, just often enough to reassure me that you’re a perfectly normal kid with perfectly normal irritations and limitations. You just don’t seem to see a need to overuse that temper; you have some unfathomable ability to keep your cool a little bit longer than other kids your age.
And you’re so, so smart. There is a mystery to you, because we so rarely see you in a trial-and-error phase. You don’t show us the practice steps: you never baby-talked, crawled or inched your tricycle around the driveway. Instead you waited, and observed, and thought, and then you came out with words and sentences, you walked across the room, you pedaled full-tilt all the way around the block after using the bike as a bench the entire previous summer. Your internal life must just be so rich and interesting, because the things you come out with are so often unexpected and deeply insightful.
So now we’ve made it to five, and in the course of the same day you will read a book without assistance and then come tiptoeing into my room in the middle of the night because you get nervous when you’re alone. You’re such a beautiful, perfect mix of Big Kid and Baby, but every day that babyness shrinks just a little more. I sometimes wonder if you held onto it, the open physical affection and the intense Mama-love, because somehow you knew, on some elemental level, that I needed you to need me just a little bit more than Emily does. She needs her mom, too, of course, but it’s different, somehow. I know the phrase “Mama’s boy” tends to be pejorative, but you manage to embody it in the most positive ways. You are my boy, but you’re also your own man, even at five.
In about a month, I’ll be putting you on a school bus, and then I’ll go home and cry. But I promise to get myself cleaned up and cheerful by the time you get home, because you’ll be full of new stories and thoughts and insights. And, I fervently hope, some more snuggles, too.
I love you forever,