On the day Cian was born, he stayed awake until just before midnight, only to fall asleep and be woken in the same moment by the sounds of fireworks going off outside the window of our hospital room. It had been a hectic day with a more frenetic night–he nursed constantly, and I was still trying to recover from both the c-section and the new knowledge that the end of my pregnancy could’ve ended catastrophically–it turned out that I had a uterine window so thin that when my doctor opened me up for the delivery she could actually see him through it, waiting for us. I still don’t like to type the words out loud for the memory of the fear it brings with it.
But he’s here, playing beside me in his Santa Claus pajamas. A friend of mine gave him a book filled with comic book heroes (“Mom! Is dat I-don Man? He’s a super here-doe!”), and he’s enthralled. He’s incredible, and wicked smart, and talks nonstop, asking questions and giving me answers to questions I didn’t even know I was supposed to have. He argues with me about anything and everything. He asks for hugs and routinely plants kisses. His sisters are his pals (“It’s ‘SEERSH’ and than ‘ah,’ and then Din-lin is ‘Din-lin’.”) and holds his preschool teachers’ hands on field trips. He is just a really awesome kid and sometimes I hold him and wish I could hold on to these last moments of childhood for a tiny bit longer.
But that’s not the way it’s supposed to go. He’s mine, in the way that I get this huge job of taking care of him, for now at least, until he grows up and away and is taller than I am and only comes home because he likes my food.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
I remember looking out the window that first night, delirious and crying and really, really sore in body parts that aren’t used to being so sore, and thinking that our New Year’s Eves were about to become a heck of a lot busier. And I was right. Last year, we hosted a small birthday get-together at our house with our immediate family and Cian’s godparents, then a family of our friends came over. Most of us managed to make it till midnight. This year, I was going to keep it even smaller (we got to meet David’s sister and our niece (!) and nephew (!!) for the first time ever–what a story for another day), but the day before and into the day itself, did it again–more friends agreed to join the family and the kids turned the upstairs into a dance party and the birthday get-together turned into a new year’s celebration. A bunch more of us managed to make it, again, till midnight. The kids loved it. I was thrilled to have a house full of people on this day of the year. My girlfriend told me that she thinks I’ve started a tradition, and maybe we have, as big or small as traditions tend to go.
The whole time, there was Cian, playing and sharing and falling in love with his dinosaur cake. Because he’s four, and that’s what he loves: dinosaurs. Iron Man. Star Wars. Transformers. Pepperoni pizza. He makes battle noises out of pretend food, and enacts lightsaber battles with candy canes. He still won’t sleep through the night and still likes to eat all the time and is already growing so tall I’m very concerned I–at five foot nine–am soon going to be the shortest person in my family.
But again: there’s no need to rush things.
My smallest baby is four, and he is definitely a little boy. He knows he is very much loved, and that makes me feel that our family is maybe doing something a bit right in this world. He talks about Luca, our old dog who died before I thought he’d remember him. He dances to songs on the radio and loves Lego Movie. Right now he’s pretending to fly a stormtrooper through the air and doesn’t want to go wash his hands even though I’ve told him three times, and he insists on driving the Cozy Coupe play car we’ve had for years that’s really only meant for two-year-olds. He really, really likes being in that car.
He’s all four. Right now, he’s all ours. And I will hold on to every day of that for as long as I still get to call him my “little.”