27 December 2009


My baby's four years old today.

I'm noticing that, as he gets older, his birthday becomes more and more about celebrating who he is, fulfilling his wishes, his desires, sloshing and splashing around in the glorious mud puddle of his excitement, than it is about that almost incomprehensible moment when he left my belly and really, fully, entered my life. And this is a good thing, though letting go, little by little, of my baby makes me sad.

We spent a nearly perfect day together. I took him ice skating in the morning and was amazed at how fearless he was. Before he slid out onto the ice, leaning on the little walker they give to younger kids, I worried. I thought he'd end up frustrated, clinging to my leg. Instead, he pushed me away when I offered to "help" him skate, insisting that he wanted to skate by himself. So I circled round and round, keeping him in view, checking in now and then, and leaving him to the fun of figuring out how to make his ankles work for him. He loved it, and by the end of our skating session, he was ready to try skating on his own.

Then we took a ride on a carousel, and I watched again, flabbergasted, as he scrambled onto a horse, something that just a few months ago he was too afraid to do on his own.

We ended our day with a big birthday bash at our house with a bunch of his (and our) friends, complete with ice cream cake. I'd sent a warning out to parents that we'd be doing our party Jules-style, which meant eating the cake first. For some reason, just the idea of the promise of something sweet, especially at parties, can be so distracting to Jules that he will not be able to focus on eating a meal. So occasionally, I find it easier to let him eat his dessert along with his dinner. I don't think I've ever seen him fill up on the dessert and not eat the dinner when we've given them to him side by side. But he WILL refuse to eat dinner at all when we hold dessert over his head as a reward. Is my giving in to him wanting the sweet stuff FIRST a sign of bad parenting or a sign that I know my kid best? Most days, I'm pretty happy to defend the latter position. And today was one of those days.

I DO know my kid, though my big fear has always been that with each passing year I will know him less and less. I try to remind myself that his pushing me away on the skating rink or not begging to sit on my lap on the carousel are not signs that he needs me less. I think he just needs me differently. He needs me to be there, proudly watching him as he tries new things, sharing his excitement, celebrating the beautiful, amazing person that he's becoming right in the middle of him becoming. And this I can do. This I hope I can always do. This is my birthday wish for my baby boy. And for me. For the "we" that I hope we'll always be.

Happy Birthday to my sweet baby.

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