Yesterday I woke up at 8 am, alone in my room, because the sun was shining in my face. It’s been a long time since I had an “oh no why didn’t the baby wake me?” moment of panic, since one of the kids usually comes upstairs to wake me around 6:30. But we took the baby gate down this week; I don’t have any babies anymore. I hopped out of bed shouting “Evan? Caroline?” and immediately heard two sets of feet running up the stairs. The kids ran into the room holding graham crackers and grinning. “Hi Mom!” said Evan, “I took Caroline downstairs. We’re having graham crackers and playing iPad and I fed Brutus!”
I don’t want to jinx anything but I’m fairly sure four is my favorite. He’s understood directions for while but now he understand emotions. He can read me like a book (better than a book, since he can’t actually read) and will call me out when I’m not at my best. Nothing cuts quite like having a four year old ask “Are you having a bad day, Mom? Do you need a hug?” Gut-punch, every time. It’s even more amazing when he does it with Caroline – I scolded her for running away at the grocery store and he took her hand and said “It’s OK, baby baby, you’re my best friend.” If you ever wanted to see a grown woman cry in a grocery store, that would have been a good moment. Standing between the bread and the lightbulbs I realized my oldest baby was a whole kid.
There’s no going back with this growing up thing. I few weeks ago the thought of sending him to real school on a bus was ridiculous. Today it seems inevitable. Of course he’s going to get on a bus. He’s going to get on a bus this September for pre-K and next September for Kindergarten and a few more Septembers for high school and then he’ll be taking a bus to some tropical location for a week-long Spring Break trip where the only thing keeping him alive is my voice in his head saying “WISE CHOICES!” That’s what I think about when my sweet-faced ginger boy says “Mommy, I want to sit on you” when I’m “too busy” for sitting. My kid still wants to hang out with me. I’ve got to enjoy that while I still can.
Evan gets himself out of bed, he picks out clothes from socks to shirt, gets himself dressed, chooses his breakfast, helps decide the days activities, puts on his own shoes, feeds the dog, is a great helper when we grocery shop, tells me the numbers and letters on the signs, goes to the bathroom alone (and ditched the nighttime pull-ups a few weeks ago!), helps cook and clean, can walk alone on a sidewalk, holds his sister’s hand, shares his stuff, plays well with others, eats (pretty) well, talks about his feelings, sits in time out willingly when he’s naughty, wants to see the pictures I take in the camera, can go on long walks, tells me when he’s tired and wants to go to bed, sleeps in any bed with just a kiss goodnight and an “I love you”, and sleeps 10-11 hours straight. He’s a whole kid. I feel super lucky, since hopefully I’ll get at least 4 good years of this independent-but-loving-person before the worst of the tweenage stuff hits. I’d take 40 years of this, as long as “this” was just like this week.
“Go stand under that tree and I’ll take your picture!” I said on the way home from our evening walk. “No Mom, take a picture of me doing this! It’s a good picture!” said my big kid. And he was right.