I realized yesterday that for the rest of my life I will have the same answer to the following question: What are you doing for New Year’s Day?
I’m celebrating my son’s birthday.
I never had any affinity for this holiday. (Don’t have much affinity for any holidays, really, saving Thanksgiving and Christmas, and those are mostly about the food-and twinkle lights-maybe mostly about the twinkle lights…)
Year one felt like six months. Year two felt like three years. Year three felt like six months again. This was the year of preschool. Of potty learning (which STILL feels like a miracle). Of witnessing connections being made (trying hard to keep bodies safe when frustrated-or overly excited), the beginnings of independent play. Articulating specific feelings, whether you are trying them on or actually feeling them.
Approaching your dad with the following thought: “I found a rusty screw, and I figured it must go to the outside window because the rain would make it rusty, right?”
We took you ice skating for the first time. You were confident you knew how to do it from watching Curious George skate and following suit by putting on slippery socks and run/sliding across our wood floors a la Risky Business Tom Cruise. You were the epitome of cute driving to the rink, entering the rink, chatting up the kids who gave you the rented skates. You wobbled on the skates at first but quickly learned how to walk in them, and you approached the rink. Once confronted with the reality of ice and the fact that you did not instantly do a Triple Salchow-Double Toe Loop, you melted. And stayed melted. For twenty minutes.
Your beautiful father held you up and quietly talked to you as you cried, refusing to listen to your dad’s suggestions, and refusing to get off the ice. You have an idea, you want to execute, you cannot, you scream, you continue to try, you continue to scream. Then you got off the ice, we held you, you ate chicken nuggets and met Olaf, and scootered around Santa Monica for an hour. I ate a bar of chocolate.
This is your process. You did this with your scooter for months, and now you steer and jump and brake and sit on your feet while riding the darn thing. I can only imagine what homework will be like. I wish you would have more compassion and patience for yourself and that you will let yourself be new to something, but I can’t be angry or surprised at what I witness, because it’s a mirror. I despise learning new things, the very thought of learning makes me want to sleep for twenty years. To your credit, you are not a quitter like your mother. You will not be thwarted, nor will you go peacefully into that good night, as our neighbors know.
I’m typing this at 4am. Four years ago, you and I were on hour 46, working together to begin this life. Today, we will frost and eat the chocolate cake we baked together. We will go to Boomers so you can race cars. You will open your long awaited bubble gun. I love you. Parenting is the most painful thing I’ll ever do. Thank you for cracking me open.