Tomorrow you are five. You were born quiet and thoughtful and you are still that child sometimes, but this year you found your voice. You have yelled and hollered and sung loudly and fought and screamed and wailed and laughed, with gusto. With your whole belly and your whole heart. You discovered physical comedy and slapstick, scatological jokes and the joy in whispering forbidden words into your brother’s ear while I look on, seemingly unknowing.
“I need to tell you a secret,” says your brother to me. I lean in.
He whispers hot in my ear,
“Don’t let the poop monsters bite!”
“What kind of monsters?” you call from your bed.
“Nothing,” I say. “It’s a secret.”
“Poop monsters!” crows your brother, “Trombone, I said POOP MONSTERS!”
You have taught him well.
Five things you have learned this year:
To read words. To tell time. To negotiate. To lie. To walk a dog.
To try new foods. The wonder of dessert. To brush your teeth properly. To get your hair cut not with the promise of a fancy chair and a toy, but because your head is hot and you can’t stand it. To sleep when you’re tired and eat when you’re hungry.
What? I can’t stop:
To share a space with your little brother. To be patient. When to walk away from someone who is mean to you. That I won’t abide someone who tattles. That you can tell me I’m not your favourite, that you want me to be gone, and I will still be there, arms open.
So many things, you have learned. Those are just the things I’ve seen: I bet there are other things you’ve learned that I don’t know about.
(To keep secrets.)
And it all started when you were born and you didn’t know how to do anything except nurse and poop.
Ha! Yes, I said poop! It’s my blog. When you have a blog you can put all your scatological jokes there.
You are wondering, in five years as A Parent, what have I learned?
To stand back, most of the time, and let you figure it out for yourself.
To lock the bathroom door.
That you don’t like sudden, loud noises, tight necks on shirts, or water on your face.
That you are more like me than I could have imagined, and more like your father than I could have imagined, and sometimes not at all like either of us, which I didn’t imagine.
That I should sing whenever possible because it is better than yelling, and you and your brother don’t cry when I sing.
Half an hour to myself before I greet you in the morning makes me much more relaxed for the rest of the day.
I cannot go to Costco by myself with two children.
It’s a phase. It’s a phase. It’s a phase.
That a typical day with you can go from sunny to cloudy to horrible darkness to torrential rain and back to clear skies several times over, and I can still say I love you at the end of it all.
Some days I have to dig to the core of you to celebrate the things I like about you.
Some days those things bubble to the surface, lemon fizz, sweet and sticky and wonderful.
You are a superhero, The King of Canada, Hero of the World. You are a blur of legs and arms and fuzzy, blond hair. You smell of grass and sweat and Freezies and tears. I could never have imagined you.
Don’t let the poop monsters bite.
PS Ordinarily an adorable photo would go here but the computer won’t let me so, everyone: picture a five year old boy with blond hair and blue eyes and he’s probably making a twisty, sideways grimace with his mouth and sticking his fingers in or near his nose. Sid Vicious as a child, but healthier. Got it? Great. Thanks.