Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Love Letter: Monkey Boy

It seems silly to call you my Monkey Boy, but that's really what you are in my head. And you'd like that, knowing that I think of you as my Monkey Boy. Much better than calling you my baby boy. You hate being called a baby (well, most of the time). That's your sister's job. You're a big boy now, and in my own mind, so suddenly I can barely catch my breath. You've always been small for your age. You were even the smallest of all our babies at birth. I remember when you were born you came out so tiny (although you were just about the same size as your oldest sister, but after your big brother who had 7oz on you, you seemed tiny) and crying. You cried so hard for such a little baby. Those tears didn't last long though. You became quickly a very calm, serene baby. You were so calm I rarely knew when you needed anything. I had to guess a lot of the time and over time became in touch with your subtle cues. I remember so vividly how you were the delight of your brother and sister. They weren't jealous of you because, just like your Daddy and I, they were completely taken in by your charm. Your eyes were so big and such a deep blue. All of us were drawn into your sweet silence. Unlike your big brother, who was all rolls and chunkiness, you were a slim baby. When I held you I could barely feel the weight. I hated putting you down as I was so drawn to be near you in your calm silence and littleness.

Now that you're about to turn 3, I'm not sure that the word calm can be applied. Except for when you're asleep I suppose. You grew from a tiny little baby into a little man what feels like overnight. You waited so long to walk, clearly not feeling any necessity to get up and run with the big kids, as they were more than likely to stop and sit with you instead. You changed so fast I missed it. I went in to the hospital to have your baby sister and you were crawling, and I came home two days later to my little man, walking and owning the room. When I expressed my surprise and joy, you gave me a look that said "Well of course I can walk. I just didn't feel like it!". My baby disappeared and I came home to a big kid. You've done that to me a few times, my wild child. You managed to keep your code of silence for so long (with a few breaks for the usual Dadas and Mamas) and then one day, out of the blue, you started speaking in full sentences like it was the most natural thing in the world. There's no room for awe as you skipped past milestones at whatever pace you liked. In another flash I lost a little more of my baby, and found him replaced by this walking, talking, little man. I never had time to kiss my baby goodbye. He was replaced by a sticky, funny, noisy, running toddler.

So here were are now, and you're a toddler. Practically a preschooler really. You refused to be held back by anyone and have such a mind of your own. Inside your still small frame is all the force of a dragon. You'd like that too, me calling you a dragon. Don't worry, I know you're a friendly dragon. Some moments I see you and you're so quiet, the picture of the little baby who would lay in my arms all day and just smile. Then, all of a sudden, you're running, roaring, fighting, yelling and making sure everyone knows you're there. I say yelling, but I'm not quite sure you've mastered that yet. You have a voice and know how to use it when you're standing up to your big brother (who you can and do take in a living room brawl any day of the week), but when you want to talk to us, your voice is an earnest whisper, so quiet it's almost not a sound. The sweet, almost shy side of you comes out as you open your mouth wide enough to scream but then only squeak out a whisper. It's worth all the frustration trying to figure out what you're almost saying out loud when we do get it right and you dazzle us with your toothy grin before running off.

When you look back, I suspect you'll wonder why I think of you as my little monkey boy. Perhaps as you get older you'll forget what a hilariously sneaky toddler you were. We're getting ready to welcome our 5th child, and I've never met a child quite so hilarious and mischievous as you are. Besides your earlier (and thankfully now ended) penchant for wall art featuring the contents of your diaper, you have found a way to use your natural stealth to get in all sorts of messes. Just the other day I found you "baking" in the kitchen, which is to say I found you with a ridiculous amount of packages from the pantry broken open and poured haphazardly in a bowl on the floor. I'm still finding chili flakes around the kitchen. Besides your actual acts of mischief (and I could go on), you have quite a way of making the most serious conversation positively hilarious. You seem to have figured out that dramatic hand gestures as well as a few goofy facial expressions can get you out of most of the trouble in the world. For a boy with a talent for trouble, this is an important skill. You can pull faces that can make me laugh even when what I really wanted to do two seconds before was scream my head off. It really is a gift to me to have you there to clown around with me. You make me a better Mama by embracing your irresistible silly side whenever possible.

None of your goofiness gets in the way of how cuddly you still manage to be (even dragons and monkeys need their Mama sometimes). There's nothing you like better than when I sing you "your dragon song" (which for those who haven't watched the Robert Munsch Christmas special on Netflix is the song from "Love you Forever"). When you have a bad dream and you ask me to sing it to you, it reminds me that even though I feel like I've lost my baby, he's still in there somewhere, needing to know that his Mama hasn't forgotten him. Part of me hopes that that never goes away. Part of me hopes you never forget that being in the middle doesn't mean you only get a medium amount of love. I know that there are times when big sister needs help with school and baby sister (and soon baby brother) needs extra attention, but that doesn't mean that you are any less special than you were the moment I first held you in my womb. I'll never stop wanting to scoop you up when you're hurt, sing you your favourite song when you're sad, and hold you close for one more second before you run off on the fast road to being a big boy and then a man. Even if we have 100 babies, not one of them can take your place in my heart and in my arms. You will always be my baby, my little boy, my big man. And I will always be your Mama. I am so grateful that God gave you to me. He must have known how much I needed you, and how little my heart still was before I had you in my life. Since the moment I've had you, you've made me a better person because you taught me a lot more about what true love is. I'm so thankful that I get to spend the rest of my life knowing you, and learning from you. I love you more each day than I knew was possible. Thank you for being my boy.

I'll love you forever. I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be.
~ Robert Munsch

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