Owen will be four on the 21st. An age that doesn't seem quite real to me.
Of course, I say this every year.
But, seriously...where did it go? His face is thinner, and he is losing his toddler belly.
He writes his own name and spells out words. In an act of almost unbearable cuteness, he "reads" books to his brother---"Listen, Joel. 'Let the wild rumpus start!' Look at those monsters swinging on vines. Look at those monsters dancing around. That's silly, Joely!"
He makes play-dates behind my back--"I asked Nathan's mommy if we could take him home with us today." He has real friends now, not the random offspring of my friends.
He's putting his toe into the world of being a kid, as opposed to a toddler. We go to Panera Bread, and he holds the five dollar bill in his little fist, and solemnly tells the employee that he wants a "kid grilled cheese and a kid Valentine's cookie." He takes the liberty of putting the change in the box for Haitian relief, after I told him the money went to kids without homes or toys.
Suddenly, inexplicably, he desires privacy. He takes his clothing and gets dressed in the laundry room, a comforting place for him, surrounded by his dearest friends...the washer, dryer, and recycling bin. "Don't let Joel BOTHER me!" he announces, "I. Need. Privacy."
I ask him:
"Who's in charge, Owen?"
"Joely," he replies, laughing to himself.
"Who's in charge, Owen?" I repeat, a bit sternly.
"You are, Mommy. You and Daddy...and Joely."
I also ask him, after he has done his brother wrong:
"What is your job, Owen?"
He knows the answer, "To take care of Joel."
"Why?" I prompt.
"Because he loves me and I love him!"
My job is taking care of this boy, and I feel like I'm painting a masterpiece in my sleep. I rub the fog of day-to-day living away and gaze, astonished, at the work of art I see before me.
Then, with humility, I realize that I didn't paint it at all. The colors, the textures, the images, and the passion are Owen's work, not mine. I'm just like anybody else, taking it all in.
I watch in grateful, holy silence.