In the mornings, after the house empties of your big brothers tarrying off to school, the house echoes in stillness, and we ate our big egg, cheese and red onion burrito breakfasts. At the table, you play while you wait on me to dish up the main course, your unfinished bowl of cereal, now already soggy.
Light filters through the windows on the kitchen floor, where the toys are still strewn in piles from last night’s fights over “it’s mine.” Now that they are “yours” the toys have lost their allure. No fun to play without a fight.
The first signs were the fleeting phrases that came tumbling out of your mouth, almost imperceptible. You began to say, “remember when we discussed,” rather than “remember when you said…”
While I got dressed in my bedroom, you stayed downstairs, sitting on the hot register, with the truck quilt my Mom made for your big brother, wrapped around you, so billowy that I wouldn’t even know you were there. But I knew.
Next, you came running into my room; face beaming, saying “Surprise!” You asked, “Mom, you wanna’ know how I got all the way up here without making the step noise? I can go all the way up on my tippee toes.”
By now, you have all the squeaky spots on the stairs figured out; you know just where to step to avoid discovery. You’ve mastered this world; you’re ready for bigger worlds. Another sign.
The next sign came in the parking lot at the library, where I take you to story time. You were careful to not open the car door too far, and reminding me to do the same; so that we won’t hit the car next to us when we climb out.
You play with the solar calculator, struggling to remember which one is “plus” and which one is clear. “Why won’t that zero go away,” you ask, so frustrated that clear does not really mean clear, because zero is always something if it’s written across my screen that’s supposed to be blank, after you hit clear. You still test my outlandish theories; 3 +3 = 6, refusing to use your fingers, rather asking the calculator to test me.
While you’ve mastered your name in chalk, and other pointy things that write, part of you still pushes all that big-boy stuff aside. “It’s time for preschool,” I say.
“I can still wear my costumes there, right?’
“Right,” I say. Thankful for the validation he gives me for my decision to hold him back for just one more year.
Still, the handwriting is on the wall; my days are numbered. Soon, I’ll be left without a superhero escort at my side; while you
master bigger worlds.