about a boy, on the eve of his fifth birthday

He wasn’t so much early as he was quick. Urgent. 

The nurses barely had time to wheel me through the corridors and down the elevator to the Alternative Birthing Center where I had hoped (for a second time) to sit in the hot tub I had been promised. For a second time, thwarted!

We had left the car running in the emergency room entry bay, as they had instructed us in childbirth class. But once inside, things progressed so quickly that we were immediately whisked downstairs. It wasn’t until after W. was born that M. remembered the car still running. 

My eager, anxious boy.

M. had made mix CDs for the occasion, having heard stories of day-long labors. Four volumes! We didn’t get to listen to a single one. I am grateful, of course, of course, but the CDs sat in the car, untouched, with the rest of the items recommended for the labor room. Things to distract the laboring mom: books, magazines, photo albums. 

Those early days and weeks - a blur of sleeping, waking, feeding. Crying. It is good that there are things we forget. A blessing that memory is imperfect. 

In the early years, he favored M.

“Hey, mommy, guess what?” he said one afternoon, about a year or so ago. 

“Yes, my love?”

“I love daddy more than you.”

“Oh. OK.”

And who could blame him, really? M. spending weekend afternoons sprawled on the living room floor with him - building blocks, toy astronauts and soldiers all around them; half-assembled space stations, motorized cars. The world they create: “Let’s pretend this guy is really mean,” I will hear him say. And M. will act out all the parts. When he gets tired, W. will prompt him, “Talk this guy, daddy. Talk him!”

In this last year, he has come around though. He hugs me all the time, his little boy arms reaching around my legs. He tells me, “You look beautiful, mommy.” And: “You are prettier than a princess.”

He is an exuberant, willful, imaginative, funny, passionate boy. He is so loud! He wears his messy, beautiful heart on his sleeve. 

I see things in him that make me worry a bit. But I know that he is just now five, and I try to resist to the impulse to name everything, pathologize.

For now, with summer camp ended and still two weeks before the school year begins, I will get to spend some time with him, sit down on the living room floor and let him show me his wizards and his aliens, his dragons and his knights. I will do my best to talk them.