Is this the last year that Sally will call Santa “Ganta Gauze?”*
Is this the last year that Luke will truly believe in the magic without any nagging doubts?
I spend a lot of time frustrated with my little kids. They are demanding, needy, and incapable of doing most things by themselves. Gloves are still impossible to get fingers into correctly. Zippers confound. Food needs to be prepared, fetched, cut up, cooled off. They fall down and hurt themselves constantly. They can’t walk far or fast.
When they’re older these problems will be long forgotten. They’ll be competent, tall enough to reach things, and probably even interesting and funny, (fingers crossed). But the magic will be gone. The wide-eyed wonder at life’s simple miracles. Big kids are cool, but they’re not cute.
Bigness and cuteness are inversely related after the age of 3. Up until then, babies keep getting cuter. You think your newborn is the cutest thing ever, but at 7 months when she’s fat and giggly? Cuter. At 2 when he’s rockin’ his footie pajamas and squealing as you chase him around the house? Cuter. At 3 when she’s brave and independent but still needs to check in with a quick hug and kiss? Cuter.
Luke is nearly 6. Don’t get me wrong; he is still maximally cute. But as he becomes more worldly, “cute” is no longer his biggest descriptor. He uses words like “literally” correctly, which is more than I can say for at least half the people on Facebook. He’s smart, sensitive, energetic, impossibly stubborn, and kind. He has always been all of these things, but cute trumped them when he was the tiniest person walking down the street at 10-months-old.
Sally is at her peak right now at 3. Her ratio of “baby” to “big kid” is in exactly the right proportions to leave a wake of people swooning wherever she goes. But as she approaches 3 1/2, she’s aware of this power. Damn.
This slow decline in cuteness is why people have more babies. It is responsible for that insane thought: “Oh, we can have just one more.” We think this even when the two we have feel like more than we can handle. (Don’t get your hopes up, Mom.)
I’m letting go of Luke, slowly and reluctantly. He’s in school now, leading a life I’m not a part of. And he’s getting easier and easier as he gets older. Sally is different. I’ve been begging her to stop growing up since she was about 2 1/2. She refuses to listen. For now, she still wants to hold my hand, even if we’re sitting next to each other watching a movie. But I know what’s coming. While Luke gets easier, she will get harder. Her inevitable pull away from me will break my heart. Maybe she won’t spill a cup of milk daily anymore, but she also won’t take my face in both of her little hands and tell me that she loves me “go, go, GO much!” (Refer to Sally/English Translator below.)
So I’m relishing this Christmas. My kids are going burst with excitement when they see that Santa came. They’ll tear into toys and games and then they’ll play. There will be tantrums, tears, audacious complaints of boredom, and sibling fights to be sure. There will be food fetching, butt wiping, and spills to clean up. But there will be magic.
* Sally/English Translator: replace all pronounced G’s with S’s.