Sitting atop my son’s dresser is a yellow square plate. This plastic plate contains his treasures: a cicada exoskeleton; a tiny egg carton that once contained dinosaur egg gum; a flat brown seed liberated from a pod; the velvety blue-and-black remains of a butterfly; a pirate spy-glass; a wooden horse colored with markers; and a Lego piece that resembles a light saber.
Looking at the treasures tonight at lights-out, I am all at once in awe of and completely overwhelmed by raising a little boy. Growing up with sisters, I was terrified of this prospect halfway through my pregnancy when he revealed himself to the ultrasound technician. I’m still terrified, I must admit.
When he was a quiet and compliant infant, I wondered why people with older boys would look at me and laugh as if I’d get the joke later. I’m starting to get it now.
A few weeks ago, he ran headlong into a corner. Looking at the wound, hoping I could get a couple nice, tight Bandaids to hold it together, I caught a little glimpse of skull. Stitches. He’ll need stitches. Fantastic. At least he’ll stop running in the house now. (This is where those parents laugh and shake their heads at me.) Fifteen minutes after returning from the three-hour “lesson” of five stitches in the head, he jumped off the ottoman onto the beanbag, narrowly missing hitting the wound on the corner of the cabinet. Lesson not learned.
At least I have learned a couple of things. If I want him to pick up the pace, start a race. If I want him to stop whining, threaten to get him a pink bow and a diaper. And it’s my own fault if I’m the one who bought him a Nerf dart gun. And let his grandfather buy him a rubber band gun. And the other grandfather buy him a motorized Mustang. And if I want him to sleep, well, I’m still figuring that out.
A preschool boy has presented me with quite a challenge, a lot of laughs, a few tears, and countless gasps of horror. Mornings of discovering him elbow-deep in the aquarium so he could hold his fish. Middles of the night discovering that he got his baby sister out of bed to play. And stashes everywhere of items I thought had been thrown away. I certainly haven’t figured him out yet, but I am completely in love with his wit and energy and resourcefulness. And his really goofy sense of humor.
I really should just breathe in and breathe out and just accept what I I’ve been told by the aforementioned parents: that if all I do is keep him alive until he is 18, I’ll have done a good job.
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By Andy Johnson on January 27 2011