Charlie was taking a bath tonight, off in his own little world with a washcloth and his Sailor Moon action figure long after Simon had climbed out. I sat in the bathroom and listened to him softly narrating the unfolding story of Sailor Moon and the washcloth, watched his sweet little face staring down into the bath water at his friends. When I take a moment to really watch Charlie, I am awestruck by who he is: his imagination, his sensitivity, his gentleness. And then I am bowled over by the realization that someday someone won’t think he’s as perfect as I do. Someone will try to crush his spirit and make him feel bad about himself. I want to cry thinking of what awaits him in the world, how horrible people can be, how unfair life is.
I want to protect him from every bad thing. I want to keep him three years old forever because then he can stay at home with me and enjoy the things he loves so much: his stuffed bear, his sippy cup full of milk, running through grass, digging his hands into sand. I remember the moment I realized I was going to grow up. I was about six or seven, sitting in the giant tire in the middle of the playground at school, surrounded by other kids running around and screaming, and all of a sudden, I just knew that my current reality would change. I cried at the realization, because like any normal kid, I didn’t want to grow up. And here I am. All grown up. And I know life is beautiful, I know people are wonderful, I know the world has its arms open for Charlie to run into, I know he will do great things, both large and small, and yet I selfishly don’t want him to leave me, to leave our world.
But there is nothing I can do to stop time, to make him stay a child, to continue to be the center of his world. I can only watch and guide. Laugh and cry. Enjoy each moment, each hug, kiss, and high five. And learn to let go little by little each day.