It was June, the last time my brother and sister-in-law saw my boys. So it makes sense that Heather would say about Garrett, "He seems so grown up." But when she said it, suddenly the clouds lifted and the feeling that I just couldn't put my finger on was clear and almost tangible.
HE SEEMS SO GROWN UP.
He's just about two weeks shy of six-and-a-half. But I think he's going on fourteen. Or forty. He says things like, "Come see the satellite I built out of my erector set." And when I go look, sure enough, he's fashioned a sculpture that looks remarkably like a satellite. It swivels back and forth when he turns it on. I don't know how he knows what a satellite is, much less how he's managed to make a tiny replica.
For better or worse, he's got my nurture and my nature running through his veins. "Matthew!" he chastises. "This playroom is not cleaned up at all. It's going to make my head explode." If that kid had a dime for every time I told him my head was going to explode he could pay someone to come clean the room for him.
He giggles. But it's more purposeful now. He's usually laughing at something that he thinks is actually funny instead of just cracking up for the joy of laughter. He giggles a lot. Because there's always a joke about poop or gas to be laughed at--even if he has to make it up himself.
He eats whatever is put on his plate without complaining. It might take him an hour, there might be a look of general discontent on his face, but he eats it. He loves broccoli, cauliflower, salad, all manner of seafood, even beets (which, for the record, are not my personal favorite). A once self professed potato hater, he now eats even those as long as he has salad dressing to dip them in or gravy to pour on top. He's polite and thankful because he is learning that he HAS when there are so many who HAVE NOT.
He has a mop on his head that is on its way to being "surfer hair." The bangs are a problem. They're way to long to spike up and way too short to effectively sweep across his forehead. So they just kind of hang there. He says the words "surf" and "camp" together in a sentence at least once a day but usually more like once an hour. Since seeing Chasing Mavericks, he now talks about maybe, one day, getting big enough and brave enough to surf Mavericks. His mother, on the other hand, thinks he should stick to one foot waves for the rest of his life. Still, he holds his breath all the time, makes me count how long he can do it--just in case he's ever being held under the water for too long.
But he crawls into bed with me in the morning before it's time to get up and molds himself to me under the warmth of the covers. His skinny body is covered in Angry Bird pajamas and he pushes his head against my chin. I breathe deeply. Johnson & Johnson's No Tears Baby Shampoo fills my nose because there are some things that I'm not willing to let go of and baby shampoo is one of them. We stay like that until the alarm howls. I know, too well, that these days are numbered.
He is one third raised already.
He is well on his way to becoming the man he will be.