Our five year old is one of the most sensitive kids we have ever met. Seriously. When a kid we don’t even know falls down at the playground with a thud, he is the first to ask him whether he is okay; I’ve seen him get to these potentially-hurt kids faster than their own mothers and fathers. He worries when his younger brother is upset, hurt, or just having a screaming fit in general. He also knows that hugs and kisses from his own mother can heal any ailment from embarrassment to scraped knees to moments of anger and frustration, and he frequently seeks out comfort in those quick motherly acts of love.
So, imagine my utter shock and confusion when, at that most sacred of parent-child times, bedtime, my five-year-old baby looked at me and said, “Mommy. Do you have to kiss me all of the time?” WHAT THE HELL?
Why, yes, son I do. It’s not really within my control. You see, I love you so much that I want to hug and kiss every chance I get. You were my first baby; the one we weren’t sure we were ever going to be blessed with. You already have grown taller than I was prepared for in five short years and smarter than I let myself hope you would be. You have lost all of your baby fat and can do so many amazing things that I don’t recognize you as that baby anymore, until I really take the time to look into your eyes. So, yes, you have to endure dozens of hugs and kisses each day. Actually, you should be happy that I keep my signs of affection in check as well as I do, considering the fact that you have one of the two cutest little boy faces I have ever seen and your cheeks are irresistible to your Mama.
In actuality, my heart broke as I answered: “No, honey. I don’t have to kiss you so much if it bothers you. How about if I try to keep it to three kisses a day?”
He nodded in agreement, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he had just broken my heart into a bazillion tiny pieces, and I wanted to hug him and kiss him to make myself feel better. He’s damn cute, after all!
But, I had to try to look at it from his point of view. He lives with a mother who can’t stop giving him quick pecks on the cheek, a younger brother who imitates his every move and phrase, and a dad who antagonizes him with pillow fights and hide-and-go-seek-even-though-you-don’t-know-we’re-playing-yet-so-I’m-really-just-scaring-you on a near-daily basis. He’s probably yearning for personal space. Oh, and he may be feeling as though I still consider him my baby because I might just be guilty of singing an original song to him every night about still being my baby. Oops.
The real pain was not inflicted by his request, because, all things considered, it makes sense. The real pain was in the fact that his request made me come face-to-face with the ugly truth that he is growing up. I can try to deny it by still buying the cute clothes from our favorite children’s clothing store even though he is getting too small for their “Baby Boy” line. I still can cut his meat and twirl his spaghetti and pour his juice into a cup with the mandatory straw included, but I have to admit that he is growing taller and leaner and more independent on a daily basis.
What the Hell? Who are you and what have you done with my baby?
And then I remember how he looks at me and reads a word on the television screen while he’s picking up a toy that the two-year-old hellion just threw at him, and I realize that I love “five.” (I remember an episode of The Cosby Show where Rudy is upset that she’s so much younger than the rest of the clan, and she’s in the backyard with Clair complaining about being so little, and by the end of that special mother-daughter time, she’s cheering: “Yay, five!”) He’s a great helper, he enjoys helping me cook, he swims so well that I don’t feel like a lifeguard on duty 24/7 at the pool, he’s asking deep questions, he’s making us laugh with his wit and humor and *gasp* sarcasm, and I love him now more than ever.
So, I may have to come to terms with the fact that my first baby is five already. But, he’s going to have to deal with the fact that I will still kiss him. Whenever I want to. And in public. Maybe I’m just providing him with material for his own “What the Hell?” moments.
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