Four. Years. Old.
Yesterday, in the fading sunshine of late afternoon, we sat on my bed together and watched home videos. You, a baby, giggling hysterically as I tickled your neck. You, a bigger baby, in your high chair, eating tomato soup and repeating single words in the cutest little voice. You, bigger still, strumming the guitar during one of our impromptu dance parties.
It's how we roll.
There's a lot of singing and silly dancing that goes on in this house. Your musical wiring seems perfectly fine with the arrangement.
I sometimes can't believe that you're the same kid who emerged into the world, only a few shades off white and covered in a full head of soft, fluffy hair. You slept all day and screamed all night and when I looked into your eyes, they told a story that said, "I need to talk. I need to explain the way I see things. I need to make a few of the rules around here. There's some changes I need to make." But you couldn't speak, so you twisted your face into a smushy mess and wailed.
We've come a long way together in these four years.
You smile. Much more often than you cry. You laugh. You have found joy.
You are my little athlete. You kick the soccer ball and score goals. You stand on your head. You do the splits--almost the entire way. You learned how to swim this year. Last night, at Garrett's wrestling match, they called the preschoolers and you stood up and started making your way down to the mat. "Matthew, where are you going?" I asked you.
"To wrestle," you told me as though you'd been doing it your whole life and how did I not know that's exactly where you were headed. It was difficult for me to explain that you aren't wrestling right now. "But I want to," you said. You want to do everything. You are physical force and I have no doubt that if you channel all that energy and attitude into training, you will make a fine athlete one day.
You're smart. So smart. Your memory is astounding and your learning pace is fast--when you want to learn. On your terms. Yellow is still identified as "the color of a banana" because, apparently, that's easier to say than "yellow." But you consistently know almost all your letters and almost all the sounds they make which is more than I can say for about half of Garrett's kindergarten class.
I asked you a dozen times what you wanted to do for your birthday. "Nothing," was the typical response. Crowds overwhelm you. Loud places with hoards of people are generally not your style. In the end, I suggested a couple friends, a trip to McDonald's and then ice cream at Leatherby's. You were thrilled with the idea so that's what we're going to do. Tomorrow.
But yesterday we had presents and cake and ice cream together.
We let you pick the place for dinner and you would not be deterred from your original declaration of, "TACO BELL!"
"How about somewhere a little nicer?"
"Are you sure you don't want to go somewhere else?" We made suggestions.
"Del Taco?" we asked because we think we're funny.
So Taco Bell it was.
And there was absolutely no changing your mind. "I want that one because it is blue! And I love that one! And can I have it pweaze?" Then you looked at me with those deep chocolate eyes and you flashed that million dollar smile and what was a mama supposed to do? I mean, really. There are times for putting a big, heavy foot down and there are times for picking up that beloved blue cake and placing it in the cart because you only turn four once.
"Yeah. I know. But I can be a baby again someday if you want me to," you suggested.
"No, Bud, you can't. That's the way with babies. They grow up. They just keep getting bigger and bigger."
"Oh. So sad," you said in a tone that meant that you weren't sad at all. Then you ran off to play with your new toys.
So sad, indeed.
But you are larger than life, Matthew. You always have been and, I suppose, you always will be. I'm fairly certain there are big things in your future and I'm so glad that I get to be the one to guide you into the blinding brightness of that life.
I love you.