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I not a baby!

Submitted by on Sunday, 1 June 2008 No Comment

Originally published Oct. 3, 2007, thehive.modbee.com

The moment I’ve dreaded for 26½ months came at 7:16 tonight, and it shocked me down to my shoes.

“I not a baby!” Little Guy insisted.

This time he was talking to Big Guy, who had just insulted the burgeoning boyhood. “Here, baby” Big Guy said as he handed his brother a Popsicle.

I know it will be directed at me soon.

With Big Guy, it was cute and cantankerous the first time he said it. It wasn’t unexpected at all – Big Guy’s been cute and cantankerous since he drew his first breath. And with Big Guy, it seemed to take forever to get to this stage. Little Guy’s life, on the other hand, has flitted by in five minutes.

You watch words grow over the months, from gurgling, to saying his brother’s name to tattling on his brother to tattling on his dad. “Mommy, Daddy take my money,” he’d said just hours earlier. Never mind that it was Dad’s money, which Little Guy had picked from his pockets.

I missed all the signs, though, that the moment was nearing. The more frequent uttering of “I do it.” The unmistakable look of pride as he mastered a major accomplishment, such using his hands to take off his shoes.

“I not a baby.”

I didn’t want to hear that.

I’ve never been able to figure out why the idea of the guys growing up saddens me. That is the goal from the beginning, right? To help these creatures we bring into this world, tiny and naked, become strong, independent adults.

So what’s with the melancholy, when things are going exactly according to plan?

It’s partly regret. Those four little words – “I not a baby” – trigger a thousand mental “I’m sorrys.”

I’m sorry for the times I’ve snapped at you and seen your chin drop and quiver and your moonbeam eyes look up accusingly. I’m sorry for the times I’ve been too tired or distracted as you’ve asked hopefully “Mommy, up down, one more time!” I’m sorry that we really have so little time together, that you’ll soon be off doing guy stuff I’ll never understand. I’m sorry I can’t give you everything you ask for. OK, so I’m not really sorry about that one. That’s for your own good.

I cuddled him a little tighter after that, cradling him in my arms and “squishing him like a bug” – it’s the easiest way these days to get a good snuggle out of him. He doesn’t catch on that I’m really rocking him, just as I did all those many months ago, when he was fresh and new and I first fell in love.

He smiled the smile that takes over his face, his eyes bright and big. And laughed until his belly shook.

And then the real reason for the regret hit me. Those four words leave you longing for a way to see that unadulterated joy forever.

You start putting his life on fast-forward and dread the day when some girl who’s not worth his time breaks his heart, when his first-choice college crushes him with a rejection or when the resumes go out and the “thank you for applying” letters come in.

Of course, he can’t see all that. All he can see is his growing sense of self and his God-given right to exercise it. Sooner or later, he’ll be out there taking his lumps, no matter how lumpy it gets. You can’t stop it, nor should you.

“I not a baby!”

Less than an hour after Little Guy’s declaration of independence, I heard a wail from his room. “Wadder!!!!!!!!” he pleaded.

I guess he is still my baby. At least for a few more moments.

Copyright 2007 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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