Junior turned five last week. It doesn't seem possible that five years have gone by and yet, poof, there you go.
In the last few months the Thomas the Train decals have come down from his bedroom walls—"too babyish"—and the "big kid" toys have eeked their way into our lives. It's been challenging for me. I can build an elaborate train track for a Useful Engine. I cannot, however, transform Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots, from a truck into a robot in under 45 minutes.
Even with the aid of the instructions—which are the size of a tablecloth.
Optimus Prime and his robot friends have met the Little People, though, so I guess they're here to stay.
I had wanted to write an eloquent post—a real ode to this child of mine who seems to outgrow a pair of shorts a day—but I find myself scrambling for the right words to express my feelings about Junior's fifth birthday. There's happiness, of course, that he's a bright, energetic and compassionate kid, but there's also wistfulness. How did it go by so quickly? Does he have to keep growing?
There's a little bit of frustration—for frick's sake he's five now, does he still have to whine?—and then there is appreciation. Now that Junior understands more and is more articulate, he feels more like a real person. There's actual dialogue. I appreciate his presence in a way that I didn't when he was a screaming, unreachable toddler.
There's curiosity. How will he handle kindergarten? There's anxiety. What if he's teased?
Yes, there's a bit of everything in this birthday.
I underlined a line in a book I'm reading, and I suppose it captures what I'm trying to say a lot more succinctly that I have. The book is Best Friends, Worst Enemies. When I grabbed it off the shelf I thought it was a book about siblings; it's actually about the social lives of children. The line is this:
"...a central paradox of parenting is that we securely attach with our children so that we can someday let them go."
Why didn't someone tell me this journey was going to be so damn bittersweet?
Happy birthday, Junior. You are loved.