I started a draft of this post back in June, because I figured that’d give me enough time to create a snapshot of David, my biggest boy. Since then I’ve been procrastinating and now this post is a whole month late. It’s because it took me that long to realize the task is impossible; a personality can never be described completely, shrunk down into words and pixels and folded into a neat blog post. Maybe back when he was a baby. Back then I could talk about how he loved to play with doors and that would effectively sum up our days. Now that will not do. I’ll do my best but my best would never even scratch the surface.
David is fearless and wild, loves being the leader and is a very, very sore loser. He’s a bit introverted and in awe of older kids, and wants to go over to someone’s house — or Target — every single day. He loves to read, draw, and work puzzles, and his favorite thing is when jump out and scare him. He is a gentleman and a sweetheart, and he’s explosive and unpredictable. He loves wearing accessories and collecting little bits for his “collection.” He loves to see how fast he can run, and is fascinated with the outdoors, but he would forego food and water and bathroom breaks if it meant I’d let him watch TV all day.
David has loved Lightning McQueen for a solid two years, and his favorite shirt his Lightning McQueen t-shirt. It’s always either on his body or in the laundry. A few weeks ago we couldn’t find it. We looked everywhere, under furniture, behind the washer, in everyone else’s dressers, and eventually on Amazon.com for a replacement because it was G.O.N.E.
David was upset, and I tried to stay positive. I kept asking him if he could remember when he wore it last — sort of a Hail Mary move. Because four-year olds can’t remember stuff like that.
Then, one morning at 5 o’clock, David walked into our room and announced, “Mommy. I know where my Lightning McQueen shirt is. It’s in the bike trailer.”
He was right. Weeks earlier, Tom had taken the kids somewhere in the bike trailer and it had started raining, so Tom took his wet shirt off for the ride home and forgot it in the trailer. That morning, before dawn, David was awake in bed trying to remember, and he did.
David’s memory, focus, and attention to detail are astounding. He can memorize the jist of a book after we read it to him just one or two times, then he will “read” it to Mary Virginia. If he’s in the mood.
If he’s not in the mood, he not read, and no one will be happy because we suggested he do something he’s not in the mood to do. The INSULT! Not only will he not read the book to her, but NO ONE will read that book or this book OR ANY BOOK EVER AGAIN HOW DARE YOU! One thing that has not changed since precious little David Andrew came into the world and took his first breath four years and one month ago is that he is stubborn and steadfast. This quality will serve him well one day, I’m sure. Or at least that’s what I tell myself when I’m in a head-to-head battle about whether or not “David” is the only word in the english language that starts with the letter “D.”
David is precocious and it always catches me off-guard. He suddenly started coloring in the lines without any direction for me. One day he asked me how to write his sister’s name. I showed him and he copied it. Then he wrote his name, too.
Or, for example, recently he got into the bad habit of using the word “hate.” I was talking to a friend about it, and explained that, though we’re teaching him that “hate” is an ugly word, I wasn’t TOO concerned because, “I’m sure he doesn’t really know what the word means.”
Later that same day, I was telling David that words can be very hurtful, and I looked into his eyes and said, “David, when you say you hate someone, do you know what that means?”
Without hesitating, he responded, “IT MEANS ALL MY LOVE FOR YOU IS GONE!”
Ok. So he does know what it means.
This year David has become incredibly self-sufficient. Watching him pick out his own clothes, get dressed, put his dishes away after dinner, it’s all incredible. Especially because at this time last year he’d only been potty trained for a month.
David is thoughtful, curious, and is an incredible big brother. He loves making his baby brother laugh, and once when Mary Virginia walked away from me in the parking lot, he grabbed her hand and said, “Come here, girl! Hold my hand, you could get hurt!”
The only person he has ever shared his very favorite blanket with is Thomas. And I didn’t even ask him to.
David loves telling jokes, but he doesn’t understand what a joke is so they’re nonsensical, like: Why did the grass talk? Because the shark talked! After he tells a joke he asks me to tell one. Since I only know like one, maybe two jokes, I started saying things like, “What’s 2+2? FOUR!” or “What’s the capital of Virginia? RICHMOND!!”
You know what? He laughs every time.
David’s favorite color is red, and he thinks God added red to the color wheel just for him. So when you say you like red too, he doesn’t get excited because of the common ground you have discovered. Instead, he gets insulted. You’d do better to walk into a full room and loudly suggest The Wire is not the most well-written show in history.
If you try to claim red, David might send you to jail. Or the trash. He might put you in judge. Or in trap. Those are his biggest insults. That’s how he deals with anything that frustrates him — a marker that doesn’t work, Legos that don’t come together like he wishes they would, his sister when she enters his field of vision.
Recently I’ve caught myself gazing at David; taking him in. I can’t believe he’s so old, so big. I feel new urgency to savor him. Tom and I are both trying to spend individual time with our big kids, and especially David. Because he is so self-sufficient, he often gets looked over. He’s no longer our squeaky wheel.
David is starting to get too big for me to pick him up. The other day he climbed in my lap and told me that he loves cuddling with me. Those are the moments in parenting that I want to hold my breath and close my eyes so I can remember it all, his skin, his hair, his smell, his squirmy legs, his four-year old weight against my chest. It’s golden.
I’ve never been sentimental about watching you grow up. I’ve loved each stage and milestone, I’ve celebrated seeing your personality unfold and mature. But recently I’ve felt a new sentimentality about you. I don’t know where it comes from, but I think it might be because you’ve turned this giant corner from toddler to kid. When I look at baby Thomas, I can’t help but think about when YOU were my chubby, bald baby. I remember those long days with you as an infant that were so hard. I’d stare at the clock and wonder how time to feed you came so quickly, but time for Daddy to come home seemed so far away. And now you’re four.
That bald little baby who used to scream at me all day long, who begged to be held and then cried when I held him, who head-butted me and tested my patience and showed me how deeply the heart can love is FOUR. You have taught me so much about myself, and being a mother, but also about my husband, God, love, faith, my need for grace. These were all lessons I didn’t even know I needed to learn. But now? Four years later? Now I know that I haven’t even scratched the surface.
I love you, my biggest boy.