Four Short Years: A Long Love Story

by cindy

Photo by Mark Kirby

My dear, dear Rooster,

You have been the most enchanting little guy I think I have ever known. I admit that I am a bit prejudiced in this opinion, but, really, really…you have brought such joy into my life. All the things that my friends have told me about grand-parenting are true. If anything, being a grandparent is even more brilliant than I was led to believe. You, Rooster, are my first grandchild and I could not have asked to begin the journey with a more wonderful little fellow.

Photo by Mark Kirby

For a little while during your two’s, we wondered when you would grasp the concept of speech. I have since decided that you were only being selective in your words. Once you realized just how easily you could charm us by talking, you began talking nonstop. And the things that you say! Like the time you, your parents, your baba and I were flying home from Chicago. For the entire visit to that city, you had been an unbelievably well-behaved three-year-old. And the effort was exhausting. It was so exhausting that you finally ran out of steam just as the plane was beginning to taxi down the runway. Something didn’t suit your fancy and your response was a sudden, long wail in the middle of which you announced for all to hear: “I IS MAD AT YOU, DADDY!” After this declaration, you put your head in your dad’s lap and fell sound asleep. You didn’t see the smiling glances and giggling shoulders of the other passengers. I did, though. And I knew that every one of them had at some point in their lives wanted to shout those same words to someone else.

Photo by David Owens

Even if you do turn your l’s into w’s, you now have full command of language. You were charming at three and you’re still charming at four. And smart. Smart enough, I believe, to know just how charming you are. When you’re not quite sure if words are adequately conveying your desires, you add that one dimple to push the point home.

Photo by Mark Kirby

It works. With me, at least, it always works. I love being the “yes” person. I love spoiling you. It’s a job I was born to do. And you simply make it easy. On our recent trip to the Renaissance Faire, for a brief example, you decided you needed a Viking hat. OF COURSE YOU DID! I totally understand! And that’s why we got it!!

Photo by Cindy Owens

Over this past year, you have grown by leaps and bounds. No, not necessarily physically, although you are, of course, taller than you were. In this last year, your world has expanded and with it, your experiences. Every thing you do, you do with an energy and enthusiasm that fills my heart. We have had opportunities to stay in hotels together over the last many months. I don’t know how many people find an elevator adventurous, but you do. You quietly go elsewhere in your head, patiently waiting for the elevator doors to open, at which point you crouch down really low, concentrate very hard, and hop as high as you can—all two inches or so—right over that deep dark crack between the elevator and the hotel floor. You have done this every time we’ve entered and every time we’ve left and you seem so very proud of yourself for having traversed that crevice. Watching you makes me want to jump over the crack too. I don’t but maybe I should. Your world is infinitely more delightful than mine.

Last fall, you had accompanied Baba and me to Philadelphia on the train and observed “weally big buildings, WEALLY BIG ONES!” from your perch beside me in the taxi. In Chicago, you rode in cabs and on the L train and the sparkle in your eyes matched the excitement of that very first airplane flight that got us there. Every day seems to bring you a fresh adventure, an adventure which could be as simple as playing with the little boy who lives next door to us. It’s with this little guy that you build roads and mountains in the mulch pile or with whom you “fix” my car by strapping bungee cords here and there and everywhere. And all the while you talk to each other in deep “manly” voices…as manly as little boys your age can muster.

Photo by Cindy Owens

Your ability to be self-sufficient is growing too. You love to help. In fact, you insist on it even if it isn’t particularly convenient to us big people at the time. No worries, though. Saying no to you is pretty darn impossible. That job is left to your parents when it is prudent to do so. That’s the way we like it.

Photo By Mark Kirby

Photo by Cindy Owens

You are suddenly very reasonable when it comes to waiting for things. This is particularly true when we go out to eat. Restaurants can be very busy and waiting for a table can be exhausting.

photo by Mark Kirby

Of course, technology does help, thankfully. And one doesn’t need to be a “widdle” guy to use it either.

Photo by David Owens

This was the year that gave us a new addition to the family: your cousin, the Peanut. You were curious about her, this little baby girl. You watched her. You shared your soft blue blankie, albeit briefly. You tried to fit your shark slippers on her very tiny feet and then asked the most extraordinary question. “Mommom,” you wondered, “can dis baby walk?” When I answered that no, she could not yet walk, you then asked, “Den what she gots dem wegs for?” Frankly, I couldn’t find an answer to that one.

Photo by David Owens

And now that The Peanut is beginning to learn what her “wegs” are for, you’re not quite sure how this will affect you…and your stuff. You’ll learn to share with her, though. I have a feeling she is going to follow you everywhere, adoring you and your stuff, too.

Photo by David Owens

Of all the things you have learned to do in these first few years of your life, I must admit that what fascinates me the most is watching you as you immerse yourself into worlds of your own imagination. You don’t just play at something, you become that something. Earlier in your life, we built ‘paceships and twash twucks with large empty boxes in my studio. You insisted that Baba was the “Moon Moose” and I was another ‘paceman. Those boxes became a dwive-thwu window at McDonald’s, where you were both cook and cashier. They became choo-choo twains. We were busy up there in that studio. You learned the delightful world of pretend. (Hang onto that, would you please?)

Photo By Cindy Owens

Your Baba and I enjoyed fostering your creativity. To think creatively is truly a gift and like all gifts, how it is used is key. I seem to remember a day not terribly long ago when your mother was summoned to pick you up at “School Center” (day care). Apparently, at lunch time, you complained of having a tummy ache. As your mother was driving you home, desperately hoping not to hear any nasty sounds from the direction of the carseat, you casually announced that your tummy “hurted but chicken McNuggets would make it feel better”. Um hmmm. Nice try, Rooster. Yes, HOW you use your creativity is very, very important.

At the Children’s Museum of Chicago, you loved the section which focused on firefighters. Cautious during our first trip there, you didn’t want to dress up in any of the fireman gear, though you did enjoy manipulating the buttons and switches on the firetruck. When we returned for a second visit, however, you insisted on putting some fireman boots on. And off you went. You were a fireman. No, correction: you were the FIREMAN-IN-CHARGE. “Emergency! Emergency! CREW!! EMERGENCY! Get the stabiwizers down! STABIWIZERS DOWN, CREW!!!” you shouted. As you expanded the hoses, set up the safety cones and worked the knobs and switches, a couple of other children approached that area where you were frantically working. Gently but firmly, you told them “You can’t touch dis. I is in charge. I gots de boots on!” So they wandered off, leaving you to manage your “crisis” all by yourself.

Photo by Cindy Owens

Most recently, you have become a Pirate. I happen to be partial to pirates since I am one too. And not that I’ve necessarily fueled this passion of yours, but I do love that you now insist on starting meals by toasting, “Down the Hatch! Arrrgghh!!” in our very best pirate-y voices. Your fourth birthday was celebrated with a treasure hunt. Your pirate friends, a motley crew if ever there was one, braved rain and mud to locate Captain Hook’s Treasure Chest. When that chest was finally discovered and opened, the sparkle that twinkled in each pair of young eyes was treasure enough for all the “older” pirates.

Photo by Dave Owens

Now that you have turned four, it’s hard to predict what new adventures await. I look forward to watching whatever there is in store and no matter what the future holds, be certain of this, my sweet young Rooster: you are loved. You are so very deeply, devotedly loved. You have a mommy and a daddy who adore you. You have aunts and uncles and grandparents and friends who think you are beyond wonderful. The world is yours to explore.

I know you are too young to read this, or even to understand it if someone were to read it to you. Down the road a bit, however, I hope you see what I have written today. There will come a time, and possibly soon, that you or your parents will prefer that I cease posting about you. After all, this blog is supposed to be about my life. Of course, you are my life but, nevermind. I will try to do what is inevitably best for you. In the meantime, these are words I wish to share, even now, even with you still so young:

Always, listen to your heart, but listen as well to the advice of those whose wisdom is greater. Always, greet each day as an adventure filled with the possibilities of learning new things, and let the lessons you learn guide your steps safely. Always, allow both your head and your heart to hear the calls of others in need and use your many gifts to make a difference in their world. Always, work your hardest and do your best, understanding that your “best” can vary greatly from day to day. And always, always, be true to yourself. Always, no matter where we are, know that we, your family, will be watching you, guiding you, loving you, protecting you, and cheering you on your way. Always understand that our love for you knows no boundaries and has no limits.

Photo by Cindy Owens

With all my heart,