This little guy is going to be five in just a few short days. I really can’t believe it. He’s grown up so much in the last year and I realize this birthday is as big a milestone (aka emotionally crippling) as when he got his first tooth and stopped breastfeeding. Other milestones were easier as they represented a liberation of sorts — turning one meant no more worry about SIDS or counting age by months, potty training alleviated the guilt of filling the landfill with poopie diapers, and talking helped expose what was going on in his little brain to the world. But to me, the other milestones represent loss, the loss of some element of babyness.
On Sunday, my Little Man will be just that. Four is a baby. Five is a boy. I’m sure it’s different for everyone but it’s clear to me. I can actually see us approaching the finish line for the first leg of the race.
There’s a maturity he’s acquired in his mannerisms as well as his appearance. He’s a wisp of a boy with well-defined muscles. Not an ounce of baby fat on him despite his less-than-optimal diet. He’s articulate, loves to tell stories, has an extensive vocabulary, and surprises us by correctly using sophisticated phrases he’s overheard. He runs like the Flash, leaving behind the odd gait he had as a Toddler.
Five is a transition point. In August, he’ll be heading out to kindergarten — starting the journey through set curriculum, letter grades, standardized testing, academic pressure (hopefully not from his parents), and the associated social chaos. He’ll be in a classroom with one teacher who will not be there to police the interactions between the kids. At five he will be responsible for building meaningful relationships and solving conflicts — mostly on his own. Larry and I won’t get detailed reports on his day-to-day activities from his three teachers or other school staff. It will be up to him to tell us about the things that make him happy, sad, excited, and nervous.
The beautiful bubble surrounding my sweet little baby has slowly grown thin and is about to pop. We’ve given him everything we can to prepare him. I see him testing out his wings — taking tentative steps close to the edge. He’s ready. He’s more than ready. I’m not. But I’ve learned to trust him and his instincts. So, we’ll follow each other into this new and exciting time of his life.
After Sunday, I’ll savor the full body snuggle sessions he enjoys for as long as he wants to have them.
And, despite my claim that there will be no more Walker-babyness left after Sunday, I’m sure I’ll retract that sentiment when he looses his first baby tooth (which is hopefully waaaay in the future and will be well-documented here so stay tuned…)
Thank you for bearing with me as I cope with the upcoming birthday. Now please enjoy this video of Ninja Walker breaking a board with his hand at a friend’s birthday party.