On his birthday, when I watched him play, I realized he was no longer a baby. When did it happen that this kid could ride a scooter or climb a tree? I swear, I turned my head away for a second and BAM he's a boy! I've noticed over the past week that his L's no longer sound like the W he was making before. Slide was no longer "swide" and Left wasn't "weft". He self corrected, no one said anything, he just knew that he wasn't doing it right. He started sleeping in his own bed (more often) he started to take pride in doing chores and helping me cook, clean or set the table. When asked to do something he'd reply "Oh, course. Sure". He took pride in being a big boy who could play with older kids and recognize letters and words.
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the fact that he's growing up. It makes life so much easier now that I can have my hands full of shoes, toys, precious rocks and the baby, and I can say to Henrik, "Can you please open the door for me?" and he'll run ahead and get the door, smiling as I pass though. I love that I can have real conversations with him like when we were stopped by a train on our way home a few nights ago and he started talking about how trains got flat tires. I informed him that trains could not in fact get a flat tire and tried to explain the science behind the train wheel, train tracks and tires. He replied, "If you run over a hammer or a pork-o-pine, then you actually get a flat tire. And that's how flat tires happen". And with that, I had nothing else to say, but was stunned at his matter-of-fact attitude, use of logic and confidence.
But I miss the first six weeks of his life where I literally did nothing except lay on the couch holding him on my chest (sleeping or nursing) while watching all of the seasons of The Office and Law and Order. I miss the days where I would wake up to nurse him and he'd be wide awake ready to have a cooing conversation in the middle of the night. I look at him and while I physically see a boy standing before me, I actually see a sweet, curious, innocent toddler looking up at me trying to get me to figure out what he wants.
While Henrik was riding his scooter on his birthday I looked at my dad and said, "He's not a baby any more". My dad sighed, put his arm around me and said, "They grow up. But isn't it wonderful? You're raising an adult". I had never thought of it that way. Yes, Eric and I had discussed that whatever our sons decided they wanted to be we'd support them and hope that they'd be the best damn whatever they wanted. But I never thought that I was actually shaping Henrik into a man. Scary? Yup. But man, am I pleased so far. This kid is cautious, curious, smart, empathetic, loving, kind, playful, proud, fair (unless he's around his brother), polite, adventurous and outgoing. All qualities I want him to have as a grown man someday. I'm teaching him about equality, fairness, rights, and the power of kind words. He gets that. Someday, he's going to be a wonderful man. And I'm so proud of that. Even if it means I have to give up the squishy baby cheeks and thousands of impromptu hugs and kisses.
So, Henrik, on this third birthday, know that while I'd love to hold you and never let go, I'm so proud of you for what you are becoming. I know the time will come when you roll your eyes at me for giving you a kiss, asking you questions about your significant other, or even talk about the good old days. I know there will be a day when I have to pass you off to someone else so you can be the man you are supposed to be, but for now, I'm going to live in the moment and I'll take as many fast kisses, snuggles on the couch, and games of cars that you'll offer up. I love you. Happy, Happy Birthday.