I wake up, startled, your face an inch from mine. Your whole body hovers over me, your raspy baby-bird voice already at outdoor volume although it’s only 5:00 a.m.
You’re happy to see me. Really happy. You’re always really happy to see, well, everybody.
And you boom out your happiness, a megaphone in a library. Your whole little life, at almost 3-years-old, has been a megaphone in a library.
You’re always dirty, even right after a bath. Something about your pudgy hands attracts everything sticky. You find something sticky when there’s nothing sticky to be found.
You smear things on your face. And on the couch. And on your clothes. All. The. Time.
I used to see little boys like you; unkempt, raucous, impish.
I’d would wonder why their moms didn’t keep their nails a little cleaner. I would wonder why they always looked disheveled. I would legitimately question why their parents didn’t take them out to dinner, the way we used to take your brother out when he was little.
I think they’re just paranoid. It’s not that hard to take a kid to a restaurant.
And then I had you.
I avoid taking you to restaurants like the plague. Last time we went out to dinner we were begging for the check before our appetizers even arrived.
“But you haven’t eaten yet.”
Oh trust me I know. Just get me the check.
Things always look different when it’s your own circus to manage.
When you were not quite two years old you somehow turned on our stove and let yourself our the front door.
I didn’t know that was a thing a kid might do. Turns out it is.
Why can’t they just keep an eye on their kids? Is it that hard?
Uh, yeah, it actually is that hard, when you’re living with a toddler tornado who doesn’t stop moving even after he’s smashed his head into a door frame for the 5th time in one afternoon. Even a bloody nose doesn’t slow him down. His cheeks are perpetually in a state of road rash from running too fast on the pavement.
And it’s hard to avoid the doorways when you’re moving at the speed of a jet engine in a family home.
But oh, are you sweet. The sweetest.
Sometimes you grab my cheeks with both hands and look right into my eyes. And it doesn’t matter how grubby those little hands are because something about it just melts me.
Nobody hugs like you do, so often and so hard. You knock us over with the force of those hugs.
It’s hard to stay mad at you for long, even in your craziness.
You’re guileless. You love us. You adore your brother.
You can’t stop yourself from mischief, just yet. You’re a puppy not yet housebroken. But you also can’t stop the love from literally barreling out of that tiny body of yours.
You’re cymbals in a church. You’re drums in a choir. You’re sirens at quiet time.
You are a challenge. Oh are you a challenge.
You’re exhausting to keep up with. Your tantrums are tough. Your sleeping is atrocious. Your eating habits are maddening.
But I already know that I’m going to miss this toddler version of you. The one who says “I’m not a baby, I’m a Tom!”
Oh, how I’ll miss my little Tom. I bet a lot of you will miss your little “Toms” too.
You’re my grubby, rowdy, rambunctious little boy. And I wouldn’t change a thing.
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