You refuse to say you are a big boy. “No, Mommy, I the boy.” Or, “I Spiderman!”
Early Saturday morning you woke up and called me from your recently converted toddler bed. “Um, Z? Just get out, buddy.” You came in, totally unaware that today is your birthday. Oh, I went through any number of elaborate ways for you to wake: multiple balloons on your bed, your wall, your floor. Streamers and noise makers, a banner proclaiming it is Zaid’s birthday. You’ve never had a full-on birthday party. When you turned one you had cake at daycare early in the week but were sick by the time the actual day came around. We ate cake without you that year because you were asleep. When you turned two we still had family over but again, it was just cake and a few gifts.
This year, with you knowing the birthday song and being aware that you are supposed to actually open the gifts, I thought you’d want something bigger, friends over, a moonbounce, music, party hats. And then I got lazy. I couldn’t find the balloons I know we have, CVS only had anniversary streamers, I never made the banner, and the Party Store wanted $.50/whistle. I am not paying $.50 per whistle. I was well onto the road of I Suck At This when you bounded in that morning, happy, and full of energy, ready to get the day started. A day just like any other for you until we told you (repeatedly) that it was your birthday.
Oh, you caught on quickly, though. At 7:30 a.m.: “I have a ice pop, please?”
Me: Sure. What color?
You: (Incredulous, stepping back from this person who is clearly not your “no” wielding mom) Yes?
Me: Yes. Color?
You: (Grinning at your luck) Red ice pop.
And then you savored that popsicle like it was the best one you’d ever had. You asked to watch Tom and Jerry and again I said yes. When your oldest sister came down you sheepishly asked her for a popsicle. When she said “Sure, it’s your birthday. Purple?” you had about had it with these imposter family members and couldn’t control the urge to run in circles with glee.
We made it to Chuck E. Cheese in the early afternoon where you tried to ride every ride, play every game, even the ones too high for you to reach. I think you had a good time. Later, we had cake and ice cream with friends and family. You missed your nap. It didn’t show until it was time for cake and you refused to sing. But then you blew out the candles, so it evened out.
It’s funny. You’re a big boy now, three and independent, potty trained (except at night; I’ma need you to work on that, kay?). Yet, you are still so small to me, still such a baby, learning, taking it all in, finding where you fit in the family, who will do your bidding without the least amount of squawk. It’s me. Usually, it’s me. You still snuggle into me and kiss me without me asking. You still have a few things you say incorrectly that no one has bothered to correct you on (and now we say them this way as well. Cute versus correct). A couple of them are: juice orange (or green/purple/yellow) — instead of orange juice; I take it off, sock — instead of I’m taking my socks off. Always, with the socks. You try to be barefoot at all times but now that it’s getting cooler you need your socks on. This is going to be a challenge.
I love you. I love you with a fierceness that is absolutely indescribable. I could try to explain it, but it’d be futile. You make me happy, you make me smile, you make me walk faster just to get to you in the evenings. You make me like mornings, especially the weekend when it’s usually just the two of us for a couple of hours before everyone else makes their way downstairs. Sometimes, you can’t wait for your sisters to appear so you make a little extra noise hoping they’ll rouse sooner. You make me laugh. You still like it when I touch you for no reason, when I hug you, rub your cheek or arm. You catch my hand as I pass by and smile up at me and I literally sink to the floor sometimes just to sit with you.
Understand– you are not always as cheerful or delightful as I’ve described. Yet, I love that about you. I enjoy watching you make your way through toddlerhood sometimes in screams and fits. It’s exasperating and it’s fun.
I know I was worried about you going to school, but you have shown your resilience and bounced into the newness happily. You already spoke well but now the sentences and words and comprehension are moving at such a fast pace I can’t keep up without wondering how you knew something/where you heard something, then lamenting the fact that I wasn’t the one who taught it to you (then being happy that at least it’s been taught to you). You have given me the opportunity to see daddy in a role I already loved to watch him in, especially when it sometimes differs being daddy to a boy instead of girls. It’s a world of learning: about you, daddy, your sisters, and myself, about how our family works. Also, compromise. There is lots of compromise.
Welcome to three, Z. It looks good on you.