Lyle, having said good-bye to diapers this month, revels in his big boy status. He shouts it from the rooftop every time he sits on the potty, puffing out his miniature chest with pride. This little guy likes to take care of business on his own - he flushes, washes and dries his hands by himself, and is working on getting his clothes back on independently. He looks forward to turning 3 next month and can't wait to start nursery school in the fall.
And yet it is no coincidence that he is simultaneously pretending to be a baby for the first time; crawling down the hall, calling "Mimi", his baby name for me, as he searches for me. He wants to be held in my arms when I'm sitting on the floor, and rocked.
I assure him that - even as he's growing to be so big - he's still my baby, my sweet little boy, and always will be.
Baxter goes off to day camp at the YMCA like a trooper. He's there with a big group of kids, most of them unfamiliar - swimming, playing at parks, doing crafts, walking to the library for story hour, going on field trips in big yellow school buses outside the city. He has mastered the monkey bars and is sporting his first blister. This big guy is working hard at learning to tie his shoes and is nearly there. He reads chapter books by himself for hours a day, happy as can be.
And it is no accident that he is firmly staking his claim on his early childhood as well; he peeks over his Junie B. Jones books, tuning in to his favorite preschool stories. When he overhears us discussing the possibility of me starting a PhD program in a couple years, Matt teasingly trying out the sound of "Dr. Sadler", he tears up with a trembling lip. "But if you're a doctor," he starts to wail, "you'll never be around anymore to take care of Lyle and me- you'll always be helping sick people!" [And wow - where did he get that from?!] Baxter cries at bedtime this summer if he hasn't had enough cuddling, even if I've been under the blanket on the floor with him for half an hour. It's never enough. He curls up next to me exactly as he has done since he was a baby. If there's anything on his mind, this is when it comes out, although it often takes some prodding to get through the tears to the words.
I assure him that - even as he's growing to be so big - he too is still my baby, my sweet little boy, and always will be.