There never was a little boy so sweet as you. I’ve heard this won’t last forever. I’m told that teenage boys and their moms are oil and water, nails on a chalkboard, fork tines scratching an empty porcelain plate.
I want to freeze you in this way, in these moments, for all my life; it seems a cruel joke that something I love so deeply cannot stay curled in a warm ball by my side forever.
So, I write. I’ll capture this sweetness here, on your fourth birthday, and hope that it only grows as you grow. I know that you may stuff it down deep and only let it show when it really, truly matters. And I will forever tell you: it always really, truly, matters. No moment is too small, and no person is undeserving.
These precious moments are the ones I will carry with me always, and dig down deep for them when those days, months come that you are far away (in mind or in presence):
- Like the time I was home recovering from surgery, and you needed to stay home sick. I was desperate, aching and wanting nothing but time to pass so I could fall into an exhausted heap once dad got home. At about lunch time, you stood up from your parking lot of trucks (on which you’d been pressing every noise-making button and making me join you in delighting over their mashed up sounds). “Hey. I’m just having my best day ever here with you, mom. We should make more days like this.”
- Or the time I saw the first real recognizable drawing that you’d done: a self portrait at school, complete with ears! “Well, if you like that so much, I will go right home and make many of pictures for you, Mom!” And, you did. You haven’t stopped for about two weeks.
- Or the time Nanny and Grampy dropped by between school and dinner just to say hi. You were devouring your snack (graham crackers and apple slices) when Nanny said they had to get home and make dinner. Sensing your chance to extend their visit, you hauled out the graham crackers and more bowls. “You can share my snack if you’re hungry! Here is one for you….and one for you!”
- Or the time dad and I were busy cooking dinner, rehashing the day. Tripping over lunch bags and flustered over whines of hunger. You kept interjecting:
“Mom, what does H look like?”
“Which are the spells for Dad’s name?”
“How do I write your word, you know…the one for your name?”
Ten minutes later, as we sat down to dinner, you made everyone wait. “You can’t eat yet! Not until you get these!” And you proceeded to deliver all four of us a painstaking, hand-drawn picture, complete with one single letter from our names:
- Charlotte got an H with swirls because she loves dancing.
- Dad got a D with a volcano because “he loves loud things”.
- You gave yourself a B with beautiful trails of red criss-crossing the page “because red is the best”.
- And I got an O with marker swoops that filled the entire page “because you’re my best mommy”.
So simple. You carried on with dinner and promptly forgot about your twenty minutes of hard work. But you made me cry, little man. Your thoughtful consideration of other people, often at our busiest or most tired moments, will stick with me for months to come.
The year between age 3 and age 4 was a big turning point for both you and your sister: you started to recognize the world beyond yourself. You started to understand that your actions have impact. You started to believe that other things matter, and you started asking questions and caring in a way you haven’t before.
I often find myself staring. Watching your every move, as if I could record it in my memory and later replay every sensory detail of Baxter, age 4. I know there are more, and better things to come. But I love you so much….
Happy birthday, bud. xo,