"I still want to be a baby," he sobbed. "I don't want to be big anymore."
The big cracking sound that followed was the sound of my heart breaking -- both for him, that he would be so sad about turning into such a wonderful big kid, and for me, because sometimes I wish he were still a baby too.
Since that night, we've been a little more careful to point out the advantages of being big (better food, the ability to read, not having to sit in poo). We've also tried to censor ourselves before we say things like "how did you get so tall?" or "don't grow up too fast!"
The truth is that watching your child grow up is about the craziest science experiment you can witness. When he's just a baby, no matter what Anne Lamott or Einstein might say, it's hard to imagine what he'll be like when he's 7, much less 17.
So for those of you who want to know what 7 (and parts of 6) look like, here's what Junius is doing that's different now from a year ago:
- The hand-holding days are mostly over. While this is somewhat practical -- it's easier for me to keep a handle on the Pip now that Junius can navigate parking lots and sidewalks on his own -- it still makes me incredibly sad. I love the loose-but-safe feeling of his little hand in mine, but now he just slips free nearly every time I try.
- Baby is optional -- and by Baby, I mean the small, white bear that he's slept with every night for the past six years and who he used to fake nurse when I was feeding Pippi. You can throw Blanket (with a capital B) in the same category. He still keeps Baby and Blanket in his bed and takes them on car trips -- but when I suggested he might want to put them in his bag for last weekend's sleepover birthday party at a friend's house, he looked at me incredulously and said, "No way, mom. That's for babies." And he slept just fine without them. And he stayed up until midnight playing at the party. Midnight.
- High dives are there to be conquered. Last week while visiting my parents, Junius decided to go off the high dive -- as in, climb the ladder 10+ feet in the air, stroll to the end of the diving board, jump off without hesitation, smack straight into a huge belly-flop (at which point I stifled a scream and
racedwalked calmly over to the edge of the pool), swim to the side and climb out like nothing had happened. Of course, about 5 minutes later, the cherry ice he'd eaten before the jump came right back up and landed on my foot. But other than that, the kid was unphased. I am still recovering.
- He can bargain with the Tooth Fairy. When he lost his front tooth earlier this month, he placed it under his pillow with a note that read, "May I have 5$ [sic] please?" He wrote this because a fifth-grader at his school said he'd asked for $10 and only got $5, so Junius interpreted that to be the Tooth Fairy's limit. And because he asked so politely, the Tooth Fairy totally fell for it.
- Seven hundred eighty-three pieces are not too many. He pooled the money he got for his birthday (including a "paycheck," as he called it, from his grandparents) and purchased the 783-piece LEGO police station. Then he proceeded to build the entire thing in less than a day with very limited assistance. Seven hundred eighty-three.
I realize that those of you with 10-year-olds or (gasp) teen-agers, this list sounds like small potatoes. But for those of you wondering when your kid will finally be old enough to wipe his own bottom? Just look at all the excitement still ahead!
Now I'm going to go work up a little cry over some baby photos while Junius is asleep...