The small moments speak most eloquently. He rests his tired head on my leg when he wants comfort. He raises his hands in the child’s universal gesture of asking to be picked up. He slaps a sweaty mitt on my shoulder and presents me with the ready smile of a conspirator. He points at something he wants and says its name. With great grace and aplomb he removes a scrap of apple from his plastic bib and lets it drop subtly to the floor.
He is stringing gibberish into complex, incomprehensible sentences, but they are nonetheless sentences, fully formed, thoughts chained together in a structure only he can apprehend. He pulls himself up to his full height, reaches into the cat food bowl on the counter and snacks on fishy kibble by the handful. (Yes, we try to stop him from doing this.)
At baby school he already has a life of his own. Reports come back that he has tried a new food or made a new friend.
He is certainly not formed; he is in formation; but he is so real now. As he totters across the room holding his bright yellow lunchbox like a working man, simultaneously as stable and unstable as any skateboarder on the sidewalk, you get the hell out of his way, you make room for him. He commands … something.
It is a little unnerving to witness the force of his personality as he flirts with women twenty times his age, discussing the size of dogs relative to cats, complimenting them on their smile, asking if there are any good yoga classes in the vicinity.
He insists on drinking his mother’s fresh-squeezed orange juice when she orders some. He recognizes the espresso places I frequent, the library’s reading room, the street where he lives.
This is all simply growing up, of course, the texture of small things weaving into something much larger. I like to isolate each one. I look at each one like a drop of water. They won’t last. Yet they are also everlasting.