You have been with us for two years now. Only two years . . . and already two years. In the span of this year, you morphed before our eyes from a baby into a little boy.
Your dad and I sometimes check on you in your crib before we go to bed. We don’t need to anymore, but it’s habit now. Besides, we secretly love those quiet moments, watching your normally active little self in freeze-frame, like a hurricane on pause.
We close the door behind us and marvel at how big you are. “Didn’t those pants just fit him two days ago?” we ask. It’s not just your legs that have grown. But they’re the easiest to measure.
Last year at this time, you were taking your first tentative steps. Your babble was mostly incoherent. You needed help to eat, use a sippy cup, and go down the slide at the park.
Now you are full of opinions and words and dramatic gestures and joy and occasional food strikes. You’ve learned how to string words together and whisper in our ears and rake leaves and mix cookie dough. You’ve learned how to run on your tiptoes and kick a soccer ball and throw rocks in the creek. You’ve learned to beg for Band-Aids and sing silly songs and share your goldfish crackers (when you want to). You’ve learned that a cow says “moo” and a lion says “rawrrr” and a puppy sticks out its tongue and pants. And when I asked you recently, on a whim, what Graham says, you flashed me a sparkly smile and replied, “Happy.”
“Do you think there’s ever another year in a person’s life when they learn so much?” I asked your dad one day. Probably not, we decided. But the more I think about it, the more I realize how much we’ve learned this year, thanks to your tutelage.
This year we’ve learned . . .
- How to extract a pea from a tiny nostril with a Q-tip
- That locks aren’t always baby-proof, especially the ones that guard the snack cabinet
- How to keep a straight face when you say, “No, no, puppy” just before doing something willfully defiant
- How to find creative protein alternatives during that two-month meat boycott
- How to notice every rock, stick, and bug on the way to the park
- How to read the truck book seven times in a row
Here’s what I’m learning about being a parent: in my eyes, you will forever be every age at once. In your two-year-old face I see who you are right now, with your sticky oatmeal fingers and cheeky grin and affinity for all things with wheels.
But I also see the swaddled bundle we took home from the hospital in an enormous car seat. I see the baby so tiny we were afraid we would break you but who somehow had ninja-like strength whenever it was bath time.
I see the six-month-old who belly-laughed at Daddy’s silly noises and learned to dance before you could walk. I see the one-year-old who adored garbage trucks and flowers and blueberries. I see the 18-month-old who decided one inauspicious day that he was too big for a high chair and insisted on sitting at the table instead.
And at times I see glimpses of the person you may become. In certain moments, you do something beyond your two years, like tell your own joke or give us a pat on the back or insist on wearing a romper with Hawaiian shorts and snow boots, and suddenly the future flashes before my eyes. I see you getting on the bus, going to overnight camp, sitting in the driver’s seat of the car, getting your first job, becoming a dad yourself.
These moments when time folds over on itself are at once beautiful and terrifying. My heart isn’t big enough to hold so many versions of you at once. And so when you blow out your candles, I will try to just count to two and embrace who you are right now, in this moment. And I will tuck the memory in my pocket so I can pull it out again someday.
Happy birthday, my boy. We love who you are and who you were and who you will be one day.
Mom and Dad
Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.Dr. Seuss