Beautiful boy

He is five, my baby.  Five years old.

That’s half a decade.

He is difficult, complicated, sensitive.  Everything sinks in.  Everything touches him.  He is complicated to parent.

Teachers, counselors, sensei – they all think he is perfect, because he saves it for when he is at home.  And be sure he gives us a hard time as often as humanly possible.

But he is beautiful.  And when he wraps those skinny arms around and me kisses my cheek, I know how deep it goes between us.

I know him to my core, yet he never stops showing me depths I did not know he had.  I ache when I look at him and see he has become a boy, a child.  The baby is gone, and in it’s place is this child who is reading and on the cusp of video games and the strange world of trading cards that kids seem to be into.  I want to hold him back for another few years and keep him innocent of all of that.

But of course I cannot.  And should not.

Today, when he wakes, I will give him a gorgeous new copy of The Wizard of Oz, the book I got on my fifth birthday.  Or maybe my fourth.  But let’s call it the fifth, because there is no one there to tell me exactly when.

All he will want to do is sit and have me read that book to him.  I know this because we have in the past few weeks been through both Charlie books (The Chocolate Factory and The Great Glass Elevator) and are now almost finished with a Beverly Cleary book about a mouse.

I want to keep him there, next to me, reading and safe.  But, suddenly, he is a big boy, and I know our days are numbered.  He knows it too.  He has started calling me “Mom” sometimes, just testing it out.

And yesterday he told me, “You know, some day I won’t need a Mommy and a Daddy anymore.”

“You’ll always need a Mommy and a Daddy,” I told him.  “You just won’t always need us to take care of you.  But Daddy still needs his mommy, right?”  He cocked that little head to one side and considered my point as we stirred up muffins for his lemonade stand.

Happy birthday, my darling.  How’s about we make a deal and you need me for a couple more years?

19 responses to “Beautiful boy

  1. “And yesterday he told me, “You know, some day I won’t need a Mommy and a Daddy anymore.”

    Another way to look at this and how to respond, for what it’s worth.

    Why not just let that be? Why not not contradict him?

    Whenever I heard my kids say things like that I took it as a way of them dealing with the utter vulnerability of their position – the fact that could literally not live without us magical grown-ups. I saw those statements as an expression of a wish to not be quite so vulnerable, to be what they think it means to be big. So to contradict them have been be to shut down that wish, that dream at the moment they are feeling quite expansive, perhaps even powerful for once.

    And in a way he’s right, you know. Because when they get much, much bigger and head out into the world, you end up needing them much more than they need you.

    Very thought provoking post. Thanks.

  2. Someday, he won’t need a mommy – but he’ll always need a mommy.

  3. That’s lovely. I understand the mixed feelings. And Happy Birthday.

  4. Happy 5th birthday to Zachary.

  5. Was it Ralph the Mouse? I love Ralph the Mouse.

    How nice that he’ll be able to read this some day. My boy is nine, veers between “Mom” and “Mommy” with gay abandon, and still shoves his enormous head into my boobs when I climb in bed with him to scratch his back at night.

  6. Happy Birthday, sweet boy. Love to you all.

  7. What a nice post. (Wish I had some tissues handy, though.) Many happy birthday wishes.

  8. Happy Birthday to the little boy. And to you as well. I think that independence thing comes and goes — my eight year old, after a period of extreme defiance and separation, now tells me that he wants to live in the garage out back when he grows up.

  9. Rest assured, he might not need a mommy soon but he will need a mom for a very long time – boys do.

    Happy Birthday.

  10. He is such a love and you are such a good mama.

  11. Happy 5th Birthday.

    We just finished Wizard last week. The boys loved it. I was surprised by the totally dark backstory of the Tin Woodman….

  12. oh sniff. especially coming from you, who had to give up so much in the Mommy & Daddy department.

    happy birthday to your boy.

  13. Oh, oh, oh my sweet goodness. What a lovely, bittersweet, touching thing to read.

    Happy birthday to your dear big boy.

    Now, at almost 40, I do, indeed, need my mommy. Almost more than ever.

  14. Aww, happy birthday to your big boy!!!

    Don’t worry, Em, boys hang onto those apron strings a lot longer than the girls do 😉

  15. Sigh, sigh, sigh, Emily. I hear you. My five year old is of similar temperament, as you know. I both rejoice in his growing up, because it brings freedom from his intensity…and fear it because managing his sensitivities and fears was simple when all it mostly required and infant sling and hours of walking. Since we moved to the city, I’ve noticed the changes…the boy becoming the pack animal who wants to roam with the neighborhood boys on scooters and bikes. This used to be tiny person managed all day Kindergarten like he’d been at it forever…which is glorious but hard to really believe.
    Happy, Happy Birthday to your kiddo. Enjoy that book, what an amazing gift that he wants you to read to him like that.

  16. Happy birthday, sweet boy. You have a beautiful mother, but I suspect you know that.

  17. many congras & LOL, wish u Happy B’Day..

  18. Happy (belated) Birthday to your son! I was remembering that my dad read the Charlie books to me as well (we did most of the Roald Dahls) and I loved them. Great post, Em.