Big Feet

The thing about having four children close together is that I’ve been locked in small child mode for so long, I’ve become fixated on the age of five. By five, they should be past diapers and defiance, they can brush their own teeth and bathe themselves, be trusted with certain tasks and I can feel confident that they won’t disappear without telling me. If I’ve done my job right as a parent, five is the age of deliverance.

(Except for Julianna. But that’s another post entirely.)

But the funny thing is, having fixed my sights on the age of five for so long, my mind’s eye has also fixed Alex at that age. I know he’s growing, I see it, I respond to it, but deep within me, he doesn’t age. And then, I see the size of his shoes, and I do a double take.

How did he get so big? How did this little angel

turn into this humongous boy?

How does earth and air and water and food turn into long arms and gangly legs?

He’s changing so much, growing, learning, rocking my world with his sensitivity, his intelligence, his imagination, and his zest for life. He wants to be a scientist and a superhero. He asks questions that challenge me. Having grown up with a strong awareness of a little sister who needed more–more help, more protection–he’s become a very mature little boy, taking charge of his flock of little siblings with love no one can mistake. I see him growing out of his own skin, the self-consciousness of adolescence sniffing the air and seeking a place to root several years before it comes due, mixing up with the heedless abandon of little boyhood. He’s always been my cuddler, and however independent he grows, he still likes to have those moments with Mommy.

As we climbed over rocks yesterday on our Mommy-Alex field trip, I stared at the red rubber soles of his torn-up sneakers and shook my head with amazement.

I love having a boy at this age. I’m enjoying every moment of it, and praying the bond holds in the years to come.