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?