Before your eyes were even open this morning, you were talking. Can you move your hair, Mommy? It's probably your most-uttered closed-eyed phrase. You wanted to hold my ear, and my hair was inconveniently draped.
"Good morning," I said, and you smiled, eyes still shut, fingers curling around my earlobe. "Guess what?"
What...? you mumbled.
Your eyes opened. It's my birthday?
Happy birthday to myself! And then you were awake and jumping.
We spent the day together, all five of us, snow-stuck. It's the biggest snow in four years, so say the news outlets, and I have a wonder if it's your birthday that summons the snow clouds.
I bought a #4 candle and a packet of stick candles. You opened the packet and put all 20 in your ice cream bowl. We need them, you said. The better for wishing. That's you, all-the-candles kid: full force in everything you do. You don't have casual opinions.
You are both mercurial and sensitive. You cannot get enough of tickling, plopping (being dropped on beds or couches) or any physical play. You climb up my arms and flop over my shoulders, begging me to hold you behind me by your ankles and pretend to have lost you. You can laugh until you beg a time-out so you catch your breath. You demand uppy! but not so you can be held; it's so you can clamber.
You had a happy, low-key day, and those are really your favorite. You had presents and the devotion of your girls and we made blueberry muffins, as requested, and you used your favorite spatula, as insisted. None of us ever got dressed today, and the webs on your Spiderman pajamas kept dipping in the muffin batter. Snowdaybirthdayboyproblems. You thought it was so funny.
You're a delight, Mister Man. And you're incredibly frustrating. So stubborn. So insistent. I love it, you know, even when I can't get you to cooperate at all. You're tender, too, always offering up a kiss, although after you offer them you always make it clear that only you can pick the location, opting often for the top of my foot, or my elbow, or my knee right through my jeans. I wasn't feeling great tonight and you offered a kiss. You kissed me on my forehead, which is one of my favorite kisses of yours to receive, and then you suggested that maybe you should hold my ear. It helps, you said. And so we closed out the day much as we started it, but even though I don't understand your affection for the earlobe as particular venue for transmission of love, this morning you were seeking love via earlobe and this evening you were dispensing it and I never claimed to understand you kids but I am glad we have this connection, you and I. I'm so grateful you have a way to fill your heart and a way to share it.
Four isn't so little-kid anymore, even if you haven't quite realized that. You're big, big boy, in percentiles and attitude and ambition. Your birthdays make me realize the most the eras we're closing doors on, and four is no three. I don't have tinies anymore. I have robust imaginative expressive creatures of depth and breadth and energy unbound. I love this phase we're in, and I love you.
You still call yourself The Biggest Big Kid. You can (sorta) write your name. You have a friend, a sweet little girl, to whom you decided you'll get married one day. So you call her your marry friend. [All language should be so straightforward, kid. You're onto something.] You're a thinker and a planner and a believer: if you will it, it will come. You're the best, mister. Just ease up with the snow, okay? You don't even like to play in it.
I love you,