I’ll give you three guesses about what I was busy doing tonight, and why.
Nope, not that.
Ewwwwww, NO! Sicko.
Okay, fine. Need a hint? It’s very graphic, so don’t click the link unless you are of hearty disposition. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Ready?
When sprinkles attack!
Tomorrow my darling baby Monkey turns six years old. He will have CUPCAKES! And! SPRINKLES! at school. Then he will have CAKE! And! ICE CREAM! here at home. All of that sugar is pretty exciting, as is the prospect of presents, even though I’ve assured him that his grandmother sent a box of rocks and I plan to give him only a few sticks and maybe a ping-pong ball. He’s not buying it.
I started writing about when I was pregnant with him, when he was born… and it’s not what I want to focus on, this looking backwards. It’s easy to look backwards, with him. He’s my baby. He’s the one with the giggle like the Pillsbury Dough Boy and the permanent bounce in his step and his infuriating and undying love for his blankies. In so many ways he still seems so LITTLE. He’s small for his age. He hasn’t lost a tooth yet. He’s still struggling with wetting the bed (and will doubtless be thrilled that I shared that with the entire world). And although he’s faking it mightily via memorizing any book he’s heard more than once, reading is coming along very slowly, for him.
At this age, Chickadee was still taller than most of her classmates, had lost a tooth and had several more that were loose, hadn’t wet the bed in over three years, and was reading chapter books. She seemed older. But she was six, and now in a few hours, he’ll be six. Just a different kind of six.
He’s the kind of six who sees big-kid life on the horizon and is in no hurry to meet it. He pads into my room in the morning and hops into bed with me, manually prying my eyes open if I do not rouse quickly enough for him. He wants to snuggle and chat and start the day off right. When I finally pry him off of me and send him off to get dressed, he’s likely to roll around on the floor of his room with his pajama top stuck halfway off his head. He doesn’t understand why I don’t find it as funny, now, the 50 billionth time, as I did the first time he did it.
We used to say he was the world’s most easy-going kid, never bothered by anything. Now he is quick to frustration and sadness, but it goes as quickly as it comes, most times. He’s embarrassed by his tears but the alternatives–shrieking at the top of his voice, for instance–bring swift consequences which he doesn’t enjoy. He doesn’t understand the fine art of bargaining, either. “Well,” he’ll say to me, all serious, “if you don’t give me that thing I want, I’m going to kick you!”
“Oh REALLY?” I’ll respond.
“Yes,” he confirms, boldly. I raise my eyebrows at him. “No,” he admits. “But I really want it.”
His whole face lights up when I pick him up from school, as if he hasn’t seen me in a month rather than having been dropped off by me that morning. His cubby is almost always full to bursting with drawings and scraps of paper which are ALL! VERY! IMPORTANT! He has to hug his teachers goodbye and wave at his friends before he’s willing to leave. He enjoys school but wishes it was all art projects and superheroes, with none of this pesky learning stuff. He has mastered flying under the radar in this way; if you don’t pay attention, you’ll assume he’s just an average kid who’s not very interested. He will sucker future teachers who aren’t on their toes, I fear. Often when I’m drilling Chickadee on her multiplication tables or some other academic exercise, when she is stumped, Monkey will pipe up with the answer. The correct answer. He’s sneaky.
Monkey believes his big sister can make the sun rise and set. But as he ages he’s beginning to realize that not only does she have her own agenda, he too can twist situations to his advantage. He bats those big green eyes at me while assuming a matter-of-fact tone after a squabble: “She’s lying. You KNOW she lies a lot.” And yes, she DOES lie a lot. But it’s not ALWAYS her fault. He’s not as adept at fabrication, but he’s perfecting the art of wide-eyed blamelessness.
And yet, no matter how truly rotten Chickadee is towards him, he cannot stay angry with her for long. He can’t stay angry at anyone for long, really. He is forever proclaiming his love for everyone in list form, wanting to make sure that all of the people in his life are duly noted, from his “very favorite mommy” down to his “third best friend” and everyone inbetween.
I wonder if his reluctance to grow up is more telling than I assume. My inclination is to believe that Chickadee always wants to be older because she believes that way brings greater spoils, and Monkey is happier just being the age he is because he’s naturally more complacent. But I’m beginning to think that he smells the responsibility that comes with age, and he’s just not interested. Sneaky.
Tonight–as he often does–he hooked his arms around my neck as he lay in bed, trying to keep me from leaving. He giggled and squirmed as I kissed and tickled him, trying to get him to loosen his grip. Finally I pointed out that I had birthday presents to wrap, and he let me go. “Night, buddy… love you,” I called as I closed his door.
“Night!” he answered. “Tomorrow! Tomorrow I’m SIX!” I could hear his little heels drumming in glee against the mattress as I went down the stairs. “MAMA!” he called, when I was halfway down. “LOVE YOU!” I patted the wall in response, with a chuckle.
Six years gone by in the blink of an eye, and yet I can barely remember what life was like without him. In six more years he’ll be on the verge of puberty and probably bigger than me. But he’ll still be my little Monkey.
Happy birthday, Mr. Monkeypants. You’ll always be my baby. Even though you’ll soon be reading and won’t wet the bed forever. I promise.