Yesterday, as per my post, was DramaBoy's third birthday. I had been excited for him (and us) for weeks, as was he, but it wasn't until yesterday morning as I watched his gangly boyish form run about, no trace of baby remaining, that it hit me. I have a three-year-old. And three is, somehow, officially Not Baby and Not Toddler, even though he's been Not both of those for some time. My mother said on the phone that it really wasn't difficult for her to assimilate because he's been so Threeish for quite some time. And at school he's been placed up with the three- and four-year-olds for months.
But it didn't really hit me until yesterday morning. He came in the bathroom as I was brushing my teeth, and he went potty. He stood to do so. As I watched him to make sure his aim was on target, I looked with new eyes at his lanky body, the slim long legs and flat stomach, the long neck and well-formed head with a cap of hair (recently) neatly trimmed in that generic boy cut. There is no trace of Buddha Baby chubbiness remaining. His jaw is strong and defined (and such an indicator of his iron will, let me tell you), his nose is taking specific shape, his hands and knees bear scrapes and bruises rather than dimples. He is Boy.
I still remember him as a baby. He was beautiful, perfect, well-shaped in that way that is the result of a cesarean birth rather than vaginal. I am not entirely biased in my view of him as a beautiful baby. Friends, family, and strangers alike commented on it; no few declared I should get him into baby modelling. He knew how to pose for a camera, that's for certain! He was also one of those babies that somehow looks like a miniature person rather than Baby, if you get what I mean. A few friends called him Little Man. We called him SqueakerMouse.
He was so very little, in our eyes. 6 lbs. 7 oz., 19 inches long, with dark blue eyes (later switching to green hazel with hints of brown), and a full head of dark hair. We were typical first-time parents, filling hours of digital tape with videos of him lying on beds, on couches, on floors, on laps. Ooh! He twitched! Ahh! He looked at the other side of the room! Aww! He waved his little fists in the air! You know what I'm talking about. And he squeaked. For a long time this was his preferred mode of communication when he wasn't wailing at the top of his lungs. Thus, SqueakerMouse.
We delighted in every new accomplishment--smiling, rolling over, scooting around the room, sitting, standing, walking, talking--and tried very hard not to gloat about how very bright and precocious he was. We agonized over his late crawling; he hated "tummy time" and had to be practically forced to crawl. We solved this by purchasing a funny little blow-up plastic cylinder that contained bells and would make delightful jingling sounds when he braced himself against it and pushed it about the room on his knees.
The nicknames changed with his development. He became Froggy when he discovered his legs and started experimenting with diaper-changing interference. He become Monkey when he discovered his arms and legs were good for more than waving about. He was Nugget for a long time, just because. When his innate sense of drama (sometimes more along the lines of melodrama...) revealed itself, he became DramaBoy.
And he talked. Oh how he talked. His first word was "doggy" (or, as he put it, "goggy"), closely followed by "Dada." He resisted saying "Mama" for a long time, much to my despair, but finally deigned to acknowledge me verbally. By the age of thirteen months I counted twenty-seven words that he could say coherently. We chortled in private over our son's obvious superiority over other children.And he kept talking. He added word after word to his repertoire, frequently on a daily basis. He developed a love of trucks and called out his discovery every time he saw one--with a minor but oh-so-key pronunciation error, namely that he could not pronounce the "tr" combination and replaced it with "k". You can imagine our horror when he would exclaim with enormous joy, "Look! A big black k*ck!"--and of course, do so in as public an arena as possible. He used prepositions and adjectives and proper syntax far earlier than those baby books said was likely or even possible. I'm simply a bit nervous that with his gift of gab and gregarious personality he'll end up with a career in politics and I'll have to eat my words about politicians!
He had, and has, an infectious smile and joy in life. He notices EVERYTHING. He can spot a single white balloon floating forlornly in the all-white, very high rafters of a Best Buy. He detects the slightest thing out of place or added to the clutter of our house. He registers the most surreptitious attempt on my or ComputerDaddy's part to sneak a secret smackeral of something that we don't want him to have. He asks question after question, he plays tricks and makes mischief with a roguish twinkle in his eye, he lavishes us with cuddles and hugs and kisses. He empathizes without thinking about it, tuning in to the mood of the house or room or nearest friend. Rooms seem to light up a bit more when he bounces in.
He was, and is, a strong-willed child. He is contrary for the sake of it, delights in pushing our buttons, and resists us on many fronts. We are all three of us stubborn and quick to anger, which leads to some epic battles. ComputerDaddy and I have had to plumb new depths of patience with him, especially since he is very smart and can, if we give him a chance, catch us out on points of logic. We must explain on a daily basis why he does not get to do and have everything that we can, and his frequent mournful refrain is, "But I'm not getting bigger YET!" My mother's exasperated curse placed upon me at the tumultuous age of twelve has come to fruition with my firstborn.
I am torn. Part of me wants to catch him in amber and preserve this beautiful, frustrating, joy-filling, astonishing creature for all time. Another can hardly wait to see what amazement the future holds, what he will become. I can only hope and pray that he will learn to temper and train that exuberance of spirit, not crushing and hiding it, but rather directing it towards accomplishing amazing things in his life. Until then, I can only be thankful that somehow, miraculously, I get to be his mother.