... In the blink of an eye. How did that happen!?
Last week, I looked over at my son, and wondered who the big boy was sitting in his seat. I mean, I guess it's time. The fifth birthday is barreling towards us after all... but he's still always looked so young. Add in that he's small for his age, and it was easy to pretend that five wasn't really happening. Up until recently, he still had the round face of a toddler, the backwards sayings and words of a preschooler, and the snuggle requirements of a baby. Oh, and my baby he was.
Friends have warned me that he would turn into a big boy overnight. They scared me into believing that if I got a good night's sleep, I'd wake up with a teenager. I would creep into his room while he was asleep and make sure he wasn't aging. I 'd whisper, "Stay my baby for one more day, ok?!" Days went on, and my baby he stayed. Months passed and I could still see the little baby cheeks and the sweet lips. And when I couldn't, he'd smile just so... and that little dimple would pop out and and I'd console myself that at least he was keeping the cuteness.
Over the past year, I went from "apprehensive" to "appreciative" and noticed all those little things, those fleeting moments, that made me feel like maybe—just maybe—my baby he'd stay.
At the beginning of the school year, he headed off to preschool with a lunchbox he brought to daycare, a trembling lip and tears threatening. Oh, my baby he was. At Halloween he chose to be a "tooty skunk" like on Curious George... and hunted high and low with me until we found the perfect costume with a big, soft belly. That sweet, not stinky (!), child of mine shone bright. He would bust out in song... the itsy bitsy spider, clap your hands, or whatever else was in vogue at preschool that week. The holidays came and went, and he had the wonder and awe of a child. Maybe not a baby... but the true spirit of the season was not lost on him. (Nor was the spirit of Santa Claus, mind you.) He was most definitely a little boy. He dressed for the Korean New Year, Seollal, in his hanbok... and while it fit better, he still swam in it and the hat fell down over his head. (See, still a little one, even in terms of Korean sizing.) He'd choose Curious George over all else when given the opportunity to watch a show. He was my sweet and innocent. When we tried to wean him off the training wheels, he begged and pleaded and we put them back on. Even if it meant not being able to match the cooler "big boys." By my side, my baby he stayed.
And then... just as the seasons changed, I noticed that he was growing, and changing, as well. Sometimes it was just a glimpse, sometimes it was more. At times I'd blink and my baby he'd be. Then blink again and I wasn't quite sure what I saw. Surely he wasn't a big boy! (At least not to me!) I didn't pay it much mind, but slowly, and surely... he was changing.
He went to the TKD competition and won a gold medal like a boss, but everyone commented on how small and young he was. My little one he still was... right?! But in with the Curious George episodes there were requests for Super Heroes as well. The desire for snuggles got fewer and fewer and the requests to "scratch my back" grew. Instead of belting out preschool songs, we were hearing a whole lot of Taylor Swift and other Top Twenty female artists. (Say what?!) I laughed. Surely this was just a phase... right?! My baby pretending to be a big boy?!
How did this happen?! While I know it wasn't overnight, it sure does feel that way now. The desire to sneak into his room and beg him to "stay my baby for one more day" is strong. But I'm afraid I won't find him sucking his thumb and holding his blanket... and I'll have to face facts. My big boy he is.
Last week, when I discovered a big boy in my son's chair, I found it tough to breathe. And while I was trying to draw in that breathe, all these moments flashed through my mind. Pride in our accomplishments mixed with regret in our failures. Moments I wished I had cherished more. Moments I clung too tightly too. And then he looked up and used the words "prestigious," "opportunity," and "perplexed" all correctly, and in context, in a very long, run-on sentence/monologue. Oh, my baby he's not.
The irony in all of this is that "five" has always seemed to be the "perfect age" for me as a Mama. But now that it's here I'm sad and nostalgic... and for the first time, scared of what the future holds.
So, I'm going to spend the remaining days of four like any mature adult would. I'm going to bury my head in the sand and pretend it's not happening.
OK, not really.
I'll be madly trying to finish his "five year old" video. And I'll probably be crying into my beverage of choice while pontificating the wise words of Robert Munsch:
“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”
PS - Part of me blames the haircut, but I know it's not responsible for the gangly arms and legs, the new passions and obsessions, or the change in attitude.