Callum is my mealtime boyfriend. Our chairs are side-by-side, and he likes to eat with one foot on the rung of his chair and another foot on the rung of mine. That way he can easily lean over to nuzzle me with his head and whisper sweet nothings in my ear. He tells me that he loves me, that I have soft hair, that the food is dee-wiscious and he is so happy I made it for him. He feeds me little bites from his plate and requests bites from mine. It annoys everyone else (especially Ronan, who runs around from his side of the table to take up the rungs when Callum loses focus and wanders off), but I like it. I’m the hugging type. For several weeks, Callum was not physically affectionate toward me at all, despite frequent professions of love and gratitude. He would ask to “snuggle” at bedtime, by which he meant my lying down about three inches from him and not touching him in any way. I’d thought It Was All Over– he was separating, he was done with hugs, it would just be high-fives and aggressive wrestling from here on out. He’d never been as much of a cuddler as my other two anyway. My eyes would sting with tears as I folded his surprisingly large T-shirts and rolled his once-again-too-small socks late at night.
Then he suddenly got over it. These days he likes me to pick him up so he can look into my face and arrange my hair in different styles, piling it first to one side then the other. Tonight, as I was intently helping him get an arm into a pajama sleeve, he remarked on my pretty eyes and gave me a sweet little pat on the cheek with his free hand. Awww. His shrunken 5T pajamas were getting a little short in the torso. Again. I think of ages two to three as the time when a child turns from a baby into a true boy or girl. At just over two-and-a-half, Callum definitely looks fully boy. His arms may be only the diameter of a silver dollar, but they are LONG. When I wake him in the morning, studying at all those outstretched lanky limbs clad in cute patterns of robots or monsters puts me in the Twilight Zone for a moment every day. How did he get so friggin’ tall? He has the largest feet of all three kids (11T) and, while he used to be halfway between Ronan and Abigail in height, he seems to be encroaching on his sister. He is starting to experience the problem of people expecting him to act older than he is.
Not so sweet Ronan, who is still a little roly-poly and has a funny little skip-hop he inserts into his run when he is on the go. The kids wanted to put on a show for me in the yard yesterday, and Ronan’s contribution was to race-skip-hop around the dormant brown grass at full speed, singing nonsense, waving two fly swatters in the air and then flinging them wildly into the bushes. He is nothing if not entertaining. Though his looks and mannerisms are babyish, he surprises me almost every day with his competence, whether at getting dressed and undressed, successfully sneaking into places he should not be, cleaning up his own messes or fixing things he has broken. He has had a burst of language development and will now carry on at length, especially if his brother is there to jump in with extra words as necessary. I was listening to the two of them play the other day. They’d tipped over their play kitchen and were pretending it was a minibus in need of repair. They decided they needed to call somebody for extra help, so Ronan dug out a toy phone and made this call:
“Conductor! We can’t find our lost batteries! They are too gone. They are too tucked in there and we can’t find them without our minibus.” After some marching up and down the hall in “click-clacks” (dress-up shoes) without making any progress on the battery situation, they decided to call back. Ronan informed the conductor that the minibus was also lost. They needed help to find the minibus, a basket, a mouse, their other click-clacks. “Tell him about the ladder,” suggested Callum. And yes, conductor, don’t forget the ladder. The conductor did not come through. The boys made some partially successful repairs and decided it was too broken to continue work under such unsupportive conditions. “We just have to go to sleep,” Ronan told me. Indeed, it was naptime. I pulled Ronan onto my lap for a story. He was dee-wiscious, the champion snuggler he had always been.