On the one hand, I expected my children would be just like me. I made them (with a little help, but you know). But on the other, it's incredibly exciting to think about who and what they'll be in this world; they are their own people after all, not merely extensions of me. I get so used to the bustle of daily life that sometimes I don't stop to take notice of who they are now, how they're changing. Extended time with them this week has provided those moments in spades.
Matt and I have a running line. One of our kids says or does something neither of us want to claim and we turn to the other say, "Your child." It's funny how eager we are to claim responsibility when it's a trait we like and approve of, but how quickly we attribute their annoying qualities to someone/something else.
Oliver is my child in every way. He's creative. He's kind and empathetic. He's sensitive and takes things to heart. His mind is always spinning. He thinks about weird things. He talks. And talks. And talks. When asked to just sit silently for bit, he happily agrees. Mere seconds pass. Then he talks again.
We had our first public mother-son fight at Target this week. I've never seen Star Wars. That's right. I've never seen Star Wars. And you know what? It doesn't freakin' matter. I'm fine. I don't feel like I'm missing anything. I'm never going to watch it. Because I don't care about it. I have the right to not care about it. Oliver, on the other hand, has a wealth of knowledge on the subject. He's deeply bothered by this lapse in my cinematic experience. He's also adopted this quirk of introducing each new thing he's about to share with, "Here's a fun fact for you."
So there we were in Target and I was about 7 "fun facts" deep in the Star Wars subject when I sort of lost it. I didn't yell, but I was stern. I said something to the effect of: "Buddy. I don't care about Star Wars. You know I don't care about Star Wars. It's really rude to continue to force "fun facts" on someone on a subject they don't care about. I don't want to talk about Star Wars. It's super annoying." Oliver replied, "Well that wasn't very nice. Everyone should have the right to talk about what they want." But he did shut up, for about a nanosecond. Then he started in on "fun facts" about deforestation, his latest obsession. He made sure to preface this list by saying he knows I care about deforestation because the Earth is home to all of us. Well played, kid. Meanwhile, a woman overheard our conversation and made a point to come up to me at the checkout line to share that she thought the exchange was pure comedy and it made her laugh, which helped diminish the annoyance quotient a bit.
Levi. We often refer to him simply as "the middle child." It is a darn good thing that child is cute because he is full of attitude. More attitude than any 3-year-old should possibly possess. He has these giant eyes that he uses to communicate as much as he does his voice, his tone, and his gestures. He has this funny way of tilting his head and looking at you out the corners of his eyes. He's my little snuggler, but he also has a speech pattern and cadence to his voice oddly reminiscent of Mr. T. Recently, he's adopted a gesture in which, head cocked, he pulls the flat of his hand down in front of his little face (like he's about to back hand you) and says sternly, "I told you!" Things he may have told us: don't do that, I'm hungry, I need a kiss, be nice, Milo's being naughty, he can do it himself, and on and on. All of it, my little toe headed, blue-eyed Mr. T.
This morning I asked him to snuggle with me. He begrudgingly agreed, but let me know he could only give me two minutes, two fat little digits held out for emphasis. He climbed into my bed and endured my snuggles and kisses for about 30 seconds, complaining all the time that I was snuggling him too tight, that he'd gotten too many kisses, that two minutes had passed already. This is the same child who yells out the door in his aggressive Mr. T voice every single time I leave the house, "When you get home, I'm gonna snuggle you!" Like a threat. But he's so cute and so sweet beneath that intensity.
He's mine too. Matt tells me often.
And little Milo. He's growing so fast. His personality emerges more and more each day. He grins and runs around the house, mostly ignoring any redirection, but then races toward me full speed for the sweetest hugs you can imagine. He goes all in. I melt.
He's a mischievous one though, very quiet. Not yet 2, he's a master climber. If he wants to get in the top bunk without a ladder, not a problem. Climb on the counter or table? Well he'll just push that chair on over and climb on up. This week I've noticed how much he observes. He loves his brothers so much and wants so badly to do what they do. He loves his chores -- putting his coat in the closet, picking up clothes and putting them in the hamper, putting things away, getting his shoes before we leave. To watch him take in the world and make his own way fills me with unimaginable joy. He's my child too; he does it his own way.
This is one of the best parts of parenting: the observations, the surprise, the awe. We make them. We raise them. We try to guide and point them in the right direction. And they are extensions of us, but they're entirely themselves, too. I'm grateful I've had this week to break free from the controlled and regimented chaos of the day-to-day. I've had the time to observe my little men, to truly see them as the individuals they are. And my heart is so full.