I’m writing this from Montréal, where your other mother and I have gone to get away from it all, to live our alternative, child-free, urban life for a week while you and your brother stay home under the care of your Rob, whipped into shape from a week of doing this last year.
Still, I woke up this morning the way I usually do, at 6:30 AM, even though you weren’t there to quietly open my bedroom door and carefully close it behind you to keep out the cats and the light before climbing into my bed. (And why is it that you can so carefully remember to close the door but you still “can’t remember” to lift up the goddamn toilet seat?) This morning, no skinny little boy stole my covers and vibrated relentlessly and whispered question after question (“Where am I going today?” “Is this a family day?” “Is next day a family day?” “Can we go to Egypt? Next day can we go? And if we find treasure there do we have to give it back?”) Into the quiet room while I — depending on my mood and just how much sleep I had— either gritted my teeth and secured my sleep mask and turned over to try to eke out a little more rest or managed to revel in the sweetness that is you.
That’s a big difference from last year to this: you sleep hurrah hurrah in your own room, but only because we kicked you out unceremoniously year ago and then left Rob to deal with the consequences while we left the country. I swear, the fact that he took on this final phase of sleep training ranked just as high for me as the fact that he took care of you and your brother for the week. Now, you’re still a regular night visitor, but more often than not my bedroom is adults-only space, which is great given that your other mother and I have so much energy left at the end of every day.
But aside from the bedroom development I’m having difficulty deciding what about you, at six, is different from you at five, four, three and so on. Because change a few details here and there, but you are so quintessentially, consistently, you that it’s hard to see you as doing anything but continuing to grow into yourself. You’re still all about the bling: the more sparkles and stick-on jewels and shiny things and buried treasure, the better. You’re still all about the breakfast, spooning up massive bowls of oatmeal most mornings while I watch your blood sugar levels rise from “Everything you do is wrong” to “[insert positive parallel construction here].” You’re still all about the cuddles, although the blanky and thumb-sucking are falling by the wayside, shedding slowly like an old skin that was too small. (Speaking of which, I finally bit the bullet and hid away your two, too-small, favourite shirts just as you inherited a windfall of hand-me-downs to replace them — I love how you look in new-to-you clothes that are on the larger rather than smaller end of your size, how you instantly mature by a few months, the same way you do when I cut your hair. I’m getting better at that, by the way: the last time I set you up in front of some cartoons and trimmed away, I didn’t even nick the top of your ear ONCE.)
Speaking of clothing, you seem to be officially done with the pink (though not pink pajamas) and the party dresses, and I am ambivalent about that, can’t tell if it was something that would have happened no matter what or if the giggles and long looks and questions cast the deciding vote. I’ll never know. (You’re also full on into weapons, just to confound any gender essentialist. Anything vaguely long or pointy is immediately transformed into a gun, a sword, a light saber. You beg us relentlessly for a Nerf gun and we keep saying no because we have drawn the line at buying toy guns. Sorry.) At least you’re still full on into jewelry. Your current career plans consist of becoming a jewelry designer and selling your creations from a stand in our front yard. You will live with us forever, you explain, and thus contribute to the family economy. You will help clean, but you will not cook, because you don’t know how — and you don’t seem to be convinced that you can learn. You’re equally unconvinced of the fact that you will one day read on your own or ride a bike that is not attached to the back of mine — you would rather, I somehow get the sense, get your books via a warm maternal body cuddled up next to yours, travel through the world still tethered to one of us. And that’s okay — you’ll read on your own just fine and I swear the first time you take off on your own set of two wheels, no training wheels, I will weep tears of both joy and sorrow.
And yet, you don’t miss us right now. I talked briefly on the phone to your brother this morning, and he ended the conversation with, “I love you. Have a good day,” before passing the phone over to you. You screeched, “HAVE A BAD DAY!” and then cackled wildly before passing the phone back to Rob and running off like the booty-shaking, ninja-kicking, sugar-seeking, crayfish-catching, soccer-dropout, diamond encrusted little maniac you are.
Which I guess makes you entirely well-adjusted.
Happy sixth birthday, Isaac! I’m sorry I didn’t get you a Nerf gun.