It’s his eyes.
His eyes are earnest, focused on my face as he politely asks, “Mommy, can I please have a cuddle?” His sincerity is disarming because it is so completely unpracticed. Like his father, guile eludes him. His eyes open wide in their earnestness, fixing upon those around him.
He looks at me with red eyes, because someone has hurt his feelings or he is trying hard to control his exhaustion and overstimulation. He has had a very long day, worked hard at the task of being four, and he knows his evening behavior is unacceptable. Yet the weight of the day is too much for him, and his tired eyes beg for the day to be over.
Or when he is angry and they train on me, telling me I have not acted according to his plan.
But then he plays, and his eyes turn mischievous, because he is a wood sprite. He has something up his sleeve, believing himself to be a trickster. His parents, of course, know the punch line of the joke or the location of the hidden object, but his sheer delight at fooling us is irresistible. We must play along when his eyes sparkle with delight at the game.
His eyes are intense. He does not want us to cuddle him while we read. Instead, he sits a little apart, those wide blue eyes trained on the book, sucking in every detail of the text in front of us. Every project he does pulls those eyes forward: to the paint or the blocks or the trains before him. The eyes may as well have blinders on them, so focused is he on the activities he pursues for well over an hour without ever looking away.
Oh, the beseeching eyes, as he presents to me his art projects, certain that my approval is all that matters in this world. “Look, Mommy, I made this for Aaron for his birthday.” Waiting to see if I like this one, even though experience by now should have taught him I like them all.
It is his eyes. They widen with delight, evade detection by looking away when confronted, skip about mirthfully, overflow when he is frustrated, sparkle with intelligence, and droop with exhaustion. His eyes speak the myriad facets of his personality.
It is Zachary’s eyes that make him so beautiful.
Happy fourth birthday, my love.