a year ago, the only word combination he could utter was “no, mama” and its paternal equivalent. “bah” stood for ball, bear, book.

yesterday, we perched at the table and he piped up, “…so. this morning i wouldn’t let Daddy and Grandpapa play with my castle. i only wanted to play with Grandmaman. i took the helmet off the castle man and put it on backwards! haha. wasn’t that funny?!?!”

tomorrow, he is three. he inhabits a body that leaps and wiggles and reminds me of the cherubs of stone cathedrals come fresh into the world, round belly and perfect bum and dancing feet.  he is not tall for his age, yet to me somehow stretched beyond comprehension, this boy now. the baby is almost gone from his face.  in its place, eyes sweet with wonder and fierce in the sulk, an open, curious, willful, playful boy…an imp.

and i am consistently amazed and driven crazy and delighted and moved by him. he is a force, now, and reckoning with him sometimes takes all i have and i run dry on endurance and urge and push and snap at him to hurry up! or to be quiet! and i long to just lie down limp on the floor and rest for a moment from this barrage of need and demand, always changing, morphing and oh my god he will eat me alive, i swear, but then, sometimes there is grace and the patience his lovely, learning little soul deserves and i look into his eyes and see that he is still whole, unbroken by my petty flaws, and my heart crumbles with relief and terror and a love that would destroy worlds to keep him just as he is except i know his job is to ripen and become and oh, how i hope for him a life rich and rewarding.

he has a joker’s heart, a showman’s sense of audience, of timing.  on Saturday, we took him and his little cousins to the local annual Pinch Penny Fair for his birthday “party”, for face painting and a magic show. the magician took him up onstage, and Oscar gaped at the man, compliant but slackjawed, almost in trance, suddenly smaller than i’d seen him in ages.  until the applause started and he turned to the audience, awestruck by the sound. in his eyes, a light came on, a recognition, and for a second i saw him ageless and beyond me, soul exposed. and i thought, i see you, my son.

and i beamed up at him, reaching out my hand to steady him as he tottered off the stage in his little rubber boots.

tiger-to-be

then he turned into a tiger for the day and we had cake and i gave thanks for him, for the thousandth time these last three years.

happy birthday, big  boy.  my god, how i love you.