Someday You’ll be Taller Than Me, But I’ll Still Hug You When You Cry

Bowie is about to turn 8. And most of the time he’s pretty grown-up acting. He mostly doesn’t need help in the bathroom anymore. He can shower himself, dress himself, and do a lot of his own homework. He can even make himself certain foods.

But, there are still those moments when something in this cruel world didn’t go away, and I find myself hugging my crying baby once again.

I thought the other day, as I just thought about how fast they grow, and the genetics of my family, and how more than likely my sons will both be taller than me. Before I know it.

And I want them to know:

I will always hug you when you cry. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t be embarrassed. If other people shame you, come find your mom. I will always be there for you to let you cry, to support you, to offer advice when you want it.

When I brought you into this world, I took on the role of mother, a role that never ends. I am your mom forever. Even if something happens to you, even if something happens to me, I will always be your mom.

And right now, you are small. Coming to me for a hug when life sucks comes pretty naturally. But as the years go on, you will come to me less and less. But, I hope you never stop coming to me when you need me. You’re never too big or too old to get a good comforting hug from mom, to cry on mom’s shoulders, to get the love you need when the world isn’t giving it to you.

Someday you’ll be taller than me, but I will still hug you when you cry.

Prologue

I’ve been putting off drafting Bowie’s fifth birthday blog post for some time now, knowing full well it will make me cry. No matter how I try to frame it–I’m sad you’re turning 5, I’m happy you’re turning 5, I’m indifferent you’re turning 5–I’m going to cry.

MY BABY IS TURNING FIVE.

AND THEN MY BABY IS GOING TO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.

And it’s all happening very soon.

This past weekend, we bought Bowie a new bed. He was still sleeping in his toddler bed, which was just his crib turned into a toddler bed. So, we got him a proper bed for a kid. Because he’s not a toddler anymore, he’s a kid. (Sniff.)

In the spirit of things, we also got him a booster seat for the car, and gave Ferris the car seat. Ferris was of course still in the infant seat, the kind that snaps into the stroller. The stroller that, devastatingly enough, Ferris is big enough to ride in sans infant car seat. So, he’s in the big seat now. And Bowie is in a booster. The kind where he wears the regular car seat belt.

(SNIFF.)

I’m hoping these small graduations are going to somehow prepare me for the upcoming big GRADUATION.

Though I know I will be a puddle of tears on that fateful day. I have cried at all of the preschool graduations that my son was not a participant in. Our preschool is a coop, so we really get to know the kids, and watching them all graduate and move on is just too much. So, when it’s my own kid…

…UGH.

Parenting is hard. So hard. But by far the hardest part about it is watching them grow so fast right before your eyes. You have a baby, then you blink and you have a Kindergartner.

It is also really fun to watch them blossom and change and become the little individuals they are inside. And you watch them do something amazing, like write their own name or play the drums or apologize without being asked to and you’re dumbfounded: I made that.

So when I’m scrubbing peanut butter out of the couch, or picking up the same toys for the 100th time, or nursing the baby for the 4th time in one night, I keep reminding myself: this will all be over someday. It will all be a distant, blurry memory. But I’ll miss it.

The first night as a teenager that they miss curfew. I’ll be wide awake, waiting to hear them come in. And I’ll miss holding that soft head against my cheek at 3 a.m. I’ll miss hearing them sing preschool songs with their tiny voice. I’ll even miss potty training. Yes, even that.

So, as we settle into May here at the Wankel homestead, Bowie’s last month as a preschooler, I am just reminding everyone to slow down and enjoy this. They’re only little once. And for such a short time.

 

But I’m still not going to grow up.

You guys, I think I might take out my eyebrow ring.

I always told myself I’d take it out when I felt “too old” to have it in. That’s not so much what happened, as I just realized one day that eyebrow rings are a bit SOOOO 10 YEARS AGO, OMG.

The kids at Bowie’s preschool are very inquisitive about it. “Why do you have that thing on your eye?” I’m used to that.

My usual response is something to the tune of, “Well, it’s like an earring, only I wear it there instead of in my ear.”

Usually kids say, “Ok.” And we all move on. But, lately they are saying, “No, I mean WHY do you have it there?”

And for that I do not have an answer. “It was super cool, and all the cool kids were doing it in 2000 I SWEAR.”

I’ve had the thing in my face for 10 years now, and sometimes I forget it’s even there, it’s become such a part of the landscape. I suppose that’s enough rebellion for one young lady’s lifetime, yes?

Of course, now I can’t stop thinking about the old lady that came through my checkout line when I was 23 and working at Target. At first she seemed like the cool, understanding old lady type. “My, that’s a pretty bead there on that ring.”

“Oh, thank you.”

“But,” she added, as she walked away with her goods, “You do realize you’re going to have a scar. A SCAR.”

At the time, I was like yeah, no shit. But now, I’m like, crap, she was right.

Oh well. I’ll consider it a battle wound. White girl college rebellion is SERIOUS BUSINESS. Not for the weak and feeble. You might leave with a scar, A SCAR!

Individuality

All of a sudden, Bowie is full of all of these feelings and ideas and opinions, and he will come up to me and say something and I have one of those mom moments where you realize, “I did actually create another human being.”

“I want to wear my glasses.” (Points to my sunglasses.) “Like mommy’s glasses, but Bowie’s glasses. It’s too sunny.”

“No mommy, I don’t want to try it. I don’t think I like.”

“Mommy, is time for school? I like school. I like to see [names of 10 kids from school].”

And he remembers stuff! It’s amazing. For example, at his swim class, we always sing this fun song at the end, and then the teacher gives everyone a high five. It’s pretty routine, so when we come home and tell Daddy how swim class went, I never even talk about it. While telling bedtime stories last night, I asked him about swim class.

Me: You climbed out of the pool all by yourself, right?

Bowie: Yes.

Me: And you went under the water two times, right?

Bowie: Yes. But hurts my eyes.

Me: Yeah, it hurts your eyes. We will wear the goggles next time, okay?

Bowie: Ok.

Me: What else did we do?

Bowie: Sing songs and high fives!

Just like that, he remembered that his eyes hurt under water and that we sing and do high fives. If you don’t have kids and you are reading this right now, you probably think I’m a total nut job but trust me, watching your kid come into his own in simple ways like this is mind-blowing.

When we started preschool last December, I took solace in the fact that he was one of the youngest kids there. My little 2 1/2 year old. How old is he? “2 1/2…” I’d say over and over again. Then just the other day it dawned on me that he’s ALMOST THREE. Almost 3. Good lord. What’s next, his driver’s license?

This is where I blink and then he’s in college.

Bowie has started preschool! We got in late in the year and were able to fill the spot of a family that left (this is a gigantic positive twist of fate, as it is nearly impossible to get your kiddo into a San Francisco preschool so easily). It was a totally last-second deal and we are all still adjusting, but I think it’s going to be a great move for our family.

We have been 4 days now, and he’s not quite with the routine yet, however the teachers are telling me most kids his age take some time to get the schedule.

I can’t believe I am the mama of a preschooler. My goodness. Most cliche line ever, but I’m going to use it anyway because seriously: they grow up way too fast.

Reputation

So, for three summers during college, I was a ride operator at an amusement park.

Ahem. No, not a carnie, those people travel. We were in the same, permanent spot. Haha.

So anyway, one of the rides I worked on was the diesel engine train, which was a blast to drive but also one of the more technical rides to operate in the park. And everything had to be timed just so. There were a ton of crossings that were operated by hand, so there was a lot of whistle signals and walkie talkies and the whole process was down to a science.

There was this one particular crossing near one of the entertainment stages, and at night it was tempting to go up and watch the show for a minute, to kill the boredom. But, you had to have your ears wide open for the whistle, so you could open the gate.

One night, a girl didn’t hear it, and the train crashed into the gate. Which was like a BIG deal. MAJOR deal. She didn’t lose her job, but it was not pretty for her record.

Anyway, she recently friended me on Facebook. And she’s all grown up now, just got married, is a graphic designer, sells handbags, lots of interesting stuff.

But, to me, she’s always “the girl who let the train crash into the gate”. I just cannot shake it.

18 Months

I never got into the writing a letter to my kid every month thing, but for some reason, 18 months seems like one of those really important milestone ages and I just had some musings on it, so here we go.

You are 18 months now, kiddo. I cannot believe it has been a full year and a half since you were born, because I can remember even the most minute detail about your birth as if it happened just yesterday. But now you’re walking, running, talking, playing with toys in their intended fashion, you’re growing up! And everyone says that before I know it, we’ll be celebrating 18 years. I think I believe them.

Right now, your favorite words are “doggie” and “daddy”, but since you seem to enjoy hugging me more than hugging doggie or daddy, I don’t take insult at the fact that you haven’t gotten the word “mommy” down quite yet.

You’ve mastered the art of the tantrum, and some days I want to pull all my hair out and throw the couch through the window, but I remind myself that it’s a phase. At least I flipping hope so! And you’re teaching me to be a more patient and understanding person. So there’s that.

Every day with you is a complete joy, tantrums, poopy diapers and all. As I watch you grow and change, it becomes harder and harder to believe that you are something that I made inside of me (well, with a little help from nature). I used to think I’d want you to be a baby forever, but now I find myself eager to see what comes next.

Love you kiddo.

DSC_1662-38

Walking Skillz

Finally, at 14 months old, Bowie has decided that this whole walking thing may after all be a viable means of transportation. HE IS WALKING, PEOPLE.

So for all you other moms of 12 and 13 month olds whose kiddo’s peers are all walking around like nobody’s business while yours still crawls, two things: 1. I sympathize, it sucks. 2. I’m living proof that it’s normal to have a kid who refuses to walk until the very last second before the pediatrician is about to do every single (highly expensive) test on them to find the problem.

A friend of mine whose child began walking at 11 months was so smug and always telling me, “they all walk eventually”. Yeah, but yours is walking NOW. I want MINE to walk NOW. WHY won’t he WALK.

Well, anyway, the torturous waiting game is over. My kid is finally walking. Now I can commence complaining about how much trouble he gets into 😛