David is worried about getting older because he’s worried that, when he grows up, he’ll like hot sauce and football. He sees how his father and his father’s friends consume hot sauce and football and so it seems inevitable that eventually his weekends will be full of Sriracha and shouting, “COME ON! THAT WAS HOLDING!”
And yet, that didn’t keep him from counting down the days, hours, minutes, until his fifth birthday. The good news is that five-year old David still hates hot sauce, and his favorite show is Paw Patrol.
Sometime in the past year David stopped asking for his blanket at bedtime. It’s a simple blanket; I used it as a swaddle when he was an infant, draped over his legs in the stroller as a baby, and he demanded as part of his bedtime routine as a toddler. When it was dirty, getting it to the washing machine and onto the clothesline so it would dry before nap time took hours of strategizing.
I happened to see it behind his bed one night and asked him, “David, do you want white blanket?” He smiled and says, “Oh yeah!” and held it to his chest.
It’s a huge change that happened quietly and is one of the many examples of how David is growing up. He can pour a glass of water and dress himself and make his own bed. When he taught himself to swim, Tom and I high-fived because what’s left? We’re mostly done parenting, right? Then we remembered that he couldn’t ride a bike so we checked that off the list and since then we’ve mostly been congratulating each other on a job well-done.
This past year David traded his fascination with Lightning McQueen for an obsession with Hot Wheels. We can trace this switchover directly to David’s cousin and best friend, who got a very cool Hot Wheels track for Christmas. I told David that I was sad that he didn’t like Lightning McQueen, and David responded, “But Mommy, if I liked Hot Wheels first and then changed to Lightning McQueen, then you would be said that I didn’t like Hot Wheels anymore.”
I might be raising a five-year old, but David is obviously raising a 34-year old.
David’s love for his cousin is unwavering. Recently we were listening to Slugs and Bugs sing John 13:34 — “…you are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples…” — and David asked me what “disciple” meant. I was driving and fumbled to answer, “Um, it’s a person who follows another person and does what they do.”
My definition was awful but David understood immediately, “Oh yeah! Like I’m Caleb’s disciple!”
David is a fun, hilarious, smart, adventurous kid. He is wild and loud and quiet and focused. He is amazing at puzzles and loves making up jokes. He has never been a rule follower, so much that he chastises Tom for playing within the parameters of video games. He loves friends and yet, once a day, walks up to his room because he needs some “alonely time.” He’s started picking up on my sarcasm, and now when I say something like, “David, could you change Thomas’s diaper?” He wrinkles his nose and says, “Mommy, are you just kidding me?”
David loves mastering new things. Notice I didn’t say he loves learning. Because if a new thing requires even a moment of learning, not only is he not interested, he’s insulted. Offended. If he cannot instantly write a letter or pedal a bike, he quits. Tom says he was the same way as a kid, which is comforting to me because Tom’s focus and perfectionist tendencies have gotten him far in life, and I am comforted to know that David’s wife will never have to worry about whether or not their computer has the latest ad-blocking plugin.
David has decided he wants to be a basketball player when he grows up. We’ve talked a lot about the specifics, the color of his uniform, what time he’ll leave for work, how much he’ll need to practice. A few days ago he told me that when he is a basketball player, he’ll play close to home so that I will be able to come to his games instead of just watching them on TV.
Comments like that are the reason I cannot recommend having a five-year old enough.
I cannot talk about David without talking about him as a big brother. I’ve always thought David should have been the youngest in a family of 10. He loves playing with older kids, and he never ever fits into the “first kid” stereotypes — the careful rule follower — my friends talk about. But he is not the youngest of 10, he’s the oldest of three. And while he has shining big brother moments with Mary Virginia, they’re too close in age and too different in personality. But with Thomas? With Thomas I see a side of David I would never know otherwise. David is loving, patient, creative and protective. He dotes on him and celebrates his milestones like an over-excited parent.
He takes the cushions off the couch to make mountains for Thomas to crawl over, and teaches Thomas how to race cars down tracks and how to bang on drums. It’s the reason Thomas looks up to David so much, and imitates absolutely everything David does. And it’s the reason every kid needs a big brother like David.
This year was such a wonderful year of seeing David grow and mature, but it was punctuated by some of my most difficult moments as a mom. David got so sick that he had to spend three days in the hospital. Now he sees a pulmonologist, and soon he’ll start seeing an allergist.
We’re hoping that he’ll grow out of whatever is going on; that’s what the pulmonologist tells us anyway. He might not even remember his stay in the hospital, his inhaler, the trips to the specialists, the way his mommy used to whip around in a panic every time he coughed. Tom and I are praying that the only side effect will be the reminder that God is in control, and our kids are being cared for by their Creator.
Every day I look at David while he reads, or sings or colors, and I think about when he was a baby and I worried so much about him because he didn’t like to read books or sing songs or color. I worried so much.
David loves hearing stories about when he was a baby; I tell him how he used to cry and cry and when he wasn’t crying he was saying, “BALL? BALL?” And every time I imitate him saying BALL, David laughs and laughs, and I laugh and laugh and think about when I would hold my kicking, screaming toddler, and say through clenched teeth, “One day I’ll look back and laugh…right?”
It seems so long ago and also like yesterday that he was bald, chubby, and behaving exactly like the dictator of a small country; that country being our family. It’s impossible to look at him and not think about when every day was so hard an exhausting. He was so moody and volatile and I would count down the hours until Tom would get home, and the months until David would be older and easier, right? I kept banking on him being easier. And then as the months passed I learned that this job of raising my child would never be easy because it’s too important.
Two days after your fifth birthday you learned how to ride a bike. Your daddy helped you a few times, and then I took you to a parking lot near our house and you figured it out. You learned quickly because you’d been riding a balance bike for two years, and because Daddy had laid the foundation. I’d like to take credit since, technically, I was the parent you were with when you took off. But the truth is you learned quickly because you were ready. You’re five; you aren’t a baby or even a toddler anymore.
For months before your birthday we talked about you turning five, and you were so, so excited to be five. Every time we talked about you turning five, I asked if you would maybe turn three instead. Be my little guy for one more year, won’t you? Turn back the clock, David! Please!
Whenever I said it, you’d get upset, as if I actually have the power to change your age. As if growing up is a tenuous thing, and if you aren’t careful you’ll miss it and get stuck in childhood forever.
But, in fact, it’s the exact opposite.
Happy birthday, Doodlebug, my biggest boy.