I know your feelings about your brand-new cousin Liz are…complicated. I know you’re jealous and you don’t have a word for jealous, although you do love her, I can tell by the way you smile at her…it’s the smile we give little ones.
Holding my new niece is awesome…she smells great and has amazing hair, big wide eyes, and that folded-up way of sleeping that newborns have, where they pass out on whoever has them.
Meanwhile, you just got a new bed and Star Wars sheets—you’re passed out like…a big kid.
Holding Liz is awesome but it makes me miss you—the other you, the long time ago you.
I’ve been melancholy since she was born, because you’re just so big now. Four and a half years old, but wearing clothes that first-graders wear, cuz you’re tall. You do everything for yourself—you put your own clothes on and stir your own cocoa. Usually, you take your shirt off before cocoa— “I don’t wanna get cocoa on myself,” you explain. A show of responsibility from the toddler who smeared apple sauce all over the state.
You made up a script for your Lego guys, and we hear you reciting it to yourself at night. You make yourself understood— “I don’t want nuts in this!,” or, “Stop being Adele! Mom, stop singing “Hello”!’ It’s ‘Mom’, not Mommy.
You know sight words, for goodness’ sakes—you could start reading any day. And today, we had a long talk about school. You were excited about going to big-kid school next year…and I was too, because if you’re at my school, where I know your teachers and we arrive and leave together, maybe I’ll get to see more of you.
You’re not super affectionate…you don’t tell me that you love me or say you miss me when you’re at daycare. You try to kiss me, but it has the air of a practical joke. You say, “I need you to snuggle with me—let’s talk about something.” But that’s a bedtime-stalling tactic. So I have to take what I can get…today you said, “Tomorrow it’s gonna snow, and I will play in the snow with you.” And you went to sleep, but I’m still up and praying for a snow day—because I want to play in the snow with you. I want to be in your memories, because you’re in mine.
Look, I’m sorry this is so gushy, son, but my heart is beginning to crack.