How did this happen? My baby is ten.
Then, he fit on my forearms comfortably, a happily swaddled burrito.
Now, he barely fits on my lap and can’t stand clothes that are too tight. Or long-sleeved shirts. Or blue jeans. What boy doesn’t like blue jeans?
Then, he got chubby on breast milk.
Now, he eats salmon and shrimp and ratatouille and steak and salad and hot dogs. But not spaghetti in tomato sauce, hamburgers, or macaroni and cheese.
Then, he cooed and squeaked and babbled.
Now, he argues like a lawyer or a classically trained Greek orator: he’s a precocious Odysseus for the twenty-first century. He also makes endless pew-pew-pew sounds while pretending to be a Jedi knight or fighting evil transformers.
Then, he lay in my arms and was what he was…a baby, all soft and helpless and sweet.
Now, he stomps his feet because we won’t let him watch The Dark Knight yet and we edit violent parts out of The Lord of the Rings and we keep tight parental controls on his computer.
Then, he lay around wanting the Booby Lady, a fresh diaper, and sleep, and he got all three whenever he wanted them.
Now, he wants to be a grown-up, married to a woman who works hard and makes a lot of money so he can sit around playing computer games and watching television all day long. “I want my allowance, but I don’t want to have to DO anything for it!” he said to George last weekend when forced to clean up the dog food he had spilt on the garage floor.
Oh, my baby. You’re going to learn that lesson the hard way, aren’t you?
Growing up hurts. I remember. We start out as little babies having our every need met the second we start fussing. Gradually, our demands stop eliciting instant response. We have to wait, learn patience, learn disappointment, and start doing for ourselves. We have to do things we don’t want to do and (hopefully) figure out how to make them less annoying. We wail, “It’s not fair!”
From where I sit now, what’s not fair is that mommies who carry babies in their wombs have to make the world “not fair” so our babies can grow up. We have to make them do chores, go to bed, slow down growing up. We have to make them eat breakfast, dress reasonably, get hair cuts, and do their homework.
But sometimes, I want to put him on a carousel and let him go round and round with joy on his face, riding a giant fiberglass eagle and feeling like he’s soaring above the rest of the world.
Happy birthday, Nick. I love you.
Photo Acknowledgements: Nick on bike and on eagle by George Raihala. Newborn photo by hospital.