I've taken to telling my close girlfriends that I almost wish I could've frozen the Grape at age 4 1/2.
Because while he's a happy five-year-old, his Mamma is feeling the first stirrings of alarm.
Over the past few weeks, he's started his slow but steady march away from me.
Which I understand is healthy, for him at least.
He wakes up in the morning and no longer wants to clamber into bed next to me. Please note that this doesn't mean R. and I get to sleep more. The Grape always announces—loud and clear—that he's awake before proceeding to play quietly with Legos in his room. At which point, I'm up for the day.
Then there's this whole Kindergarten business. It's sweet and play based, but somehow still feels like "real" school. He still wants to hug and kiss me goodbye, but some of his classmates already shrug their moms away in embarrassment, and I know we're within ten years of the phase when the fact of having parents at all will be a source of tremendous mortification. (I.e. "Can you drop me off a block away from the movie theater?")
Here he is, getting on the school bus for the first time ever. Note that he's visibly worried that the bus might leave him behind while Mamma fumbles, thumb less, with the camera:
Yes, thumb less. I crashed a bike on a rocky downhill slope on Block Island. Among various injuries which consisted mainly of losing much of the skin on my left side extremities, I tore the ligament in my thumb. Of course the right thumb. Of course I'm right handed.
The thumb is NOT an over-rated appendage. Among the things I can't do: wield a knife or a pen. Typing is awkward. Personal grooming a challenge.
I didn't fully appreciate the magnitude of the problem until the end of the trip, when we stopped taking every meal in restaurants or from sandwich counters.
I have a surgical consult scheduled this week. Good times.
But I digress.
The Grape announced, out of nowhere, on the eve of his fifth birthday, "Mamma, I'm growing up."
As if to underscore his point, a bunk bed arrived two weeks later.
While R. dismantled the crib-turned-toddler bed, the Grape informed me, "Now that I have a big boy bed, a baby sister will grow in your belly."
"That's not exactly how it works," I said. (Though I know where he got this idea: from a Berenstain Bears book, circa 1983, he found lying around my mom's house.)
"You never know," the Grape shrugged.
I felt pangs of guilt over my lonely only, because he often asks for a little sister. Always a sister. As if he's processed that a child of the same sex would constitute unwelcome competition. Of course he has no idea how much any infant would constitute a reduction in services as far as the Grape is concerned. This is a kid who still prefers that his mother help him put on his pants.
I don't want another one. I had a horrendous pregnancy, and wouldn't repeat the experience for anything, even if I weren't too old. Which I think I am.
Perhaps more importantly, I'm content.
I don't have that baby twinge for another newborn experienced by so many of my friends. A newborn takes a family back to start, and I love that with one, we're fairly nimble; we can once again undertake last minute trips, such as the aforementioned mini-break to Block Island (so worth it despite my unfortunate injury).
We can go somewhere for the day without paying the consequences of the blown off nap. With the Grape in school, I can work without paying for child care.
But there's no escaping the fact that he is indeed growing up. Which makes me wonder how much longer I should keep writing about him. I feel like ridiculous baby and toddler incidents (such as Bye, bye vacation, hello trip or Winter wonderland or Baking with a toddler )are fair game. For the most part, those posts are about me and my naive expectations of how things should run. The goofy challenges of parenting small children, such as taking forty-five minutes to exit the house, are in many ways universal.
Now that the Grape is making memories he is likely to remember, is it fair to use him as material?