A birthday wish for my son

Happy Birthday bannerCake crumbs still spotted the table and chairs, remnants from his brother’s birthday party when LT first began asking if it was now time to plan his celebration, an event that wouldn’t take place for several months. Each time he asked, he announced loudly and repeatedly that he was done being three and ready to be four.

Over the next several weeks, there were few mornings (or evenings) in which LT did not ask us for an update on the number of days left until his birthday. This was new for him as he’d never expressed all that much interested in his birthday before. Eventually, I came to realize that he had gotten it into his head that his world would suddenly be made different by the simple act of raising one additional finger when adults asked him how old he was. He told me he was going to get a bunk bed and sleep on the top. He was going to stay up late every night and was going to get to do homework (the boy is actually looking forward to this – proving ignorance is bliss). I didn’t quite have the heart to tell him that no, not all his dreams of big-kid-hood would be coming true, at least not this year (except the part about getting a new bed – let’s be clear, LT, that’s not happening).

Then the countdown was over and it was the evening before his big day. I told him, this is the last day you are going to be a three-year-old. Tomorrow, when you wake up, you are going to be four. His eyes got big as the reality of his situation sunk in. As I pulled the blankets around him and leaned in to kiss his forehead, he looked at me and said, “I no wanna be four. I wanna be three forever.”

I did what most mothers (or fathers) would in this situation. I gave him a bone-crushing hug and told them that I would like him to stay three very much too. Then I wished him good night and snuck into another room to wrap his presents, because, unfortunately, a wish to stay forever the same is about as likely to come true as is him actually enjoying homework once he starts bringing it home on a regular basis.

I adore my littlest boy. I love his hugs, his laugh, and his insanely honest observations. It makes sense that I want him to remain exactly how he is now, but, as I sat there on the floor trying to avoid papercuts while keeping tabs on the tab, I started wondering about that look on his face and what he said. After so many weeks of anticipation, so much yearning to be four, what now caused the about-face? Sadly, the only thing I can come up with is this – he is my son.

I am the kind of person who falls in loves with the idea of things but can then become terrified if there is even a fraction of a chance of the idea becoming reality (I love the beach, but am scared to swim in the ocean for example). It is one of the reasons it took me so long to start pursuing writing in the first place. I have to admit, I take comfort in the status quo. I know exactly where my place is and what is expected of me. I am fortunate. The status quo has thus far been good to me.

But the status quo is not what dreams are made of. It can be like never going hungry but also never enjoying a slice of cake (and oh, how I enjoy a good piece of cake). And so, as he blows out his candles (and I blow out mine because it was my birthday party too), I am promising myself that I will challenge it. It may not be today or tomorrow, but when the opportunity comes I am going to squash the butterflies in my stomach and face it. So then, when it is my son’s turn, he might do the same, unafraid, for no other reason than this – he is my son.

 

 

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30 thoughts on “A birthday wish for my son

  1. It’s delightful how you can see yourself in your son! I know what you mean about being reluctant to start new things. I’m the same way. It always seems like a good idea until reality nudges into the picture. Happy Birthday to you both.

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  2. I too am cowardly (in my own eyes) but I think (because I also find a positive spin wherever I can!) that I appreciate the changes and the new experiences more than someone who sails into them with nary a blink; I watch them marching over the horizon and go out to meet them in no-man’s-land to barter their entrance into my life. I see them, like you do I think, in all their multi technicolour madness and enjoy them more vitally, more viscerally. You’ll do great by the little man, giving him such an attitude. He sounds great btw – a natural sage!

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      • My children are happy to ask me questions about English, geography, biology, history or whatever, but they know better than to ask me about math. They have more chance of finding the right answer without my help.

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      • Over here we are dealing with this new fangled math education system called common core. I went to engineering school. I am pretty comfortable with math. My son still got the is X greater than or less than y wrong on a recent assignment even with my help. It turns out you can’t just say the answer, you have to explain in writing or pictures how you got to that answer and apparently, “because I said so” doesn’t work the same on an assignment as it does with parenting.

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  3. ok, in defense of your son, I, too, looked forward to the moment when I would receive a homework assignment when I was in elementary school because it made me feel like one of the big kids. Wow, homework!

    That same sort of thinking got me to try cigarettes, alcohol, and sex (not to scare you or anything).

    My kids are a bit older than yours (13 and 8) but the wanting to grow up while also wanting to stay a kid, those contradictory impulses, stay with them, possibly forever. It’s like whiplash with my older daughter right now, who is straddling the netherworld between adulthood and childhood, and in one moment she’ll sound like a younger, hipper version of myself, and the next the innocent kid I would have wanted her to stay forever.

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    • No. I am not scared by that at all. 🙂

      I am not looking forward to the teenage years. Well, maybe I am looking forward to them being able to drive themselves to their own events (hmm drive maybe too strong a word, let’s go with walk), being able to go out see first-run movies where there is (gasp) storytelling and not just merchandising (thank you Pixar – you keep me sane), and not having to spend the hour a day looking over their shoulder as they work on homework (est 10 minutes – I laugh). But other than that, they need to stay just as they are.

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