I bought some fruity-twisty-strawberry treats the other day and he asked if he could have one. Sure, I said. I watched him open the package- his fingers no longer needing my help with things like that. He pulled out the red twister treat and inspected it, as he always does. With everything. He took a bite and chewed. The gooey, stickiness was evident by his exaggerated chomps. Then he swallowed. Ohhhh, he said. This is sweet. I feel like red stars are bursting from my cheeks with joy.
We were driving home one evening and I was telling the boys stories of when they were babies. We’re all suckers for those stories. You used to yell YUCK! all the time, I told him. Dirt was YUCK! Toilets were YUCK! One time, Finn pooped in the bath tub while you both were in it and you stood right up and yelled YUCK!YUCK!YUCK! Both boys fell apart at their seems laughing. Bathroom humor gets them every time. Oh man, he said. This is my favorite feeling. When my cheeks hurt from smiling so big.
Daily, I’m in awe of him. The things he says, the way he says them. He’s painfully logical about life, and his matter-of-factness is sometimes hard to hear. Like when he told his father that he’d rather be burned than buried in the ground when he dies. He’s acutely aware of the world around him. It’s like from each of his pores, a tentacle grows. He’s sensitive. And not in that way that society tells us is something to be ashamed of. He’s in tune with his body and he feels pain more intensely than most. He knows when a cold is coming on or when he just needs a good hug. But, he’s getting harder to cuddle. The gangles of boyhood are setting in faster than I’d like. So when he asks us to be held or needs to be snuggled after a nightmare, we do it.
Kyle carried him to the car yesterday after his great-grandfather’s funeral. I watched from behind as his head, resting on Kyle’s shoulder, bobbed with each step. His legs were wrapped around Kyle’s waist and his feet dangled somewhere below his father’s knees. At the reception following the service, he pulled his chair next to mine and laid his head on my lap. His legs hung uncomfortably off his own chair. He said, I just don’t feel good. It’s been a long day. And he started to cry. I knew exactly how he felt and yet I don’t think I could have described those feelings any better than that.
I stayed up late watching videos of him as a baby. The one where we ask him how big his muscles are and he flexes and growls. The one where I sing his favorite lullaby and he finishes the verse. The one where we do that thing that made him laugh that magic baby laugh every single time we did it. Everything was choreographed, practiced, taught. Now? Holy moly. Nothing is expected. We’ve gone rogue. I don’t know what’s around the corner or what he’ll say or do. As they say, there’s no manual. He’s already his own person-whole, intuitive, wise. And while I long for the days of teaching him to blow kisses or wave goodbye, I’m settling into this new phase. The one where I sit back, my arms and lap ready if they are needed, and watch him reach out and feel the world.