Little Levi. You are sleeping away in your bed and I am writing just as the earliest signs of your coming began to nudge me to bed early, three years ago. How did we get here? Three years ago seems like forever, and yet my baby is turning three already!
I’ve been savoring the past six months with you. Savoring, like you were my last meal on earth. At times I’ve accused you of ruining your waning days of babyhood by being so capricious, so stubborn, but that isn’t fair. You are your own spirit—you just started giving up your naps before your little body and emotions were fully ready (and I was). Plus I’m not the best about having snacks on the ready to ward off the grumpies.
The year started off under tough circumstances and my attention was divided. My mommy needed me, too. I’ve tried to make up for lost time. Your brother has shown me how fleeting these years can be. I stopped traveling internationally. My heart couldn’t bear another plea with your steel blue eyes and little voice, “Mama, I don’t want you to go.” Or your very matter-of-fact comment: “I want to be with you.” How could I deny you? How could I miss the shedding away of the round baby fat double chin and miss the transformation from toddler to small child. I cut back my hours significantly and created our special Thursdays. Mama-and-Levi time splashing in the pool at the Y and clapping along at Kindermusic. Why had I waited so long to stimulate your mind and body so?
You were so engaged in music. While others squirmed or cried, you were completely present. It reminded me of the time Surya had you in his lap and let you play the mbira. Your transformation was palpable. So focused, my normally bouncing 2 year old was transfixed by the tones and completely subdued. In Kindermusic, I adored the way you would bring a new instrument to me from the bin for us to explore together. The wooden frog from Latin America was your favorite. Shy at times—you only would bang on that drum if I would come with you—but always engaged, participating from my lap or with the comfort of my hand. Of course in swimming, it also meant the comfort of my neck, which you would wrap both arms around tightly. You still won’t jump into the pool without at least a fingertip of connection between us. But I promise to be patient.
That is something about you I’m still trying to figure out. You seem so gregarious, so confident, so capable—and then you surprise me by hiding behind my leg, playing the shy one with your left shoulder cradling your cheek. Is it that without your other half, your big brother, (“My brother” as you are fond of qualifying at every opportunity lately) you lose some of that swagger I know and love? If I had any worry for you, it is ironically the closeness of your bond with Micah. You love him so. And he loves you. But he is growing up too and when you two are in sync, it is magic, but he increasingly wants to roll with the bigger boys, despite your protests that you’re a big boy too.
You’ve always gravitated towards Micah and the big boys. Since you began walking (running really) at 10 months, you’ve identified with them and have expressed indifference at best towards your cohort. You skipped trains, duplo and dinosaurs and went straight to legos, light sabers and “zombie hunters.” Whereas I used to cringe at your aggressive play, your obsession with “bad guys”, now I admit to being slightly amused at times. And certainly humbled. I was so self-righteous at Montessori when Micah attended. “Who were these parents showing their 2-year olds Batman?”—I’ve come to learn, through you Levi, those 2-year olds were the younger siblings. Now you are the 2-year old corrupting the babes!
And staring Montessori this year was of course a milestone in-and-of itself. While the nap boycott earlier in the year, followed by the potty boycott, despite being out of pull-ups everywhere but at school, are not my fondest memories of this school year, you assure us that tomorrow (“when I turn three”—you negotiated) you’ll start using the potty, and my! oh my! how adorably you sing and hold a pencil in your little hand. Whereas you started the year friends with “Wardy”, your diction has improved so that you can say Morgandy’s name correctly (to my sadness!) and you are still the best of pals—but is it she who has corrupted you into believing so adamantly that pink is for girls and blue is for boys?
Today, on the eve of your birthday, after quietly playing alone in the house, you came outside wearing your Lego headlamp, ducky rain boots and “pack-pack” on your back. You crack me up. You really do. Your humor is really starting to come through lately along with the imaginative play. The other day I watched you from the dining room completely lost in your star wars land, wielding your light saber and jumping through the house in your cape (doing “flips”—really just awkward side jumps with one leg out, but I act impressed nonetheless). You were completely unaware of my presence, so lost in play you were. The best part was Micah was drawing and you were playing so intently alone. I like to see that independence. It gives my comfort that you won’t follow in Micah’s footsteps, play the same sports, go to the same college, have the same major, choose the same career.
As I close this letter, I am left pondering your gentleness underneath the raw energy. How you “nice” Haile. How you quietly pad into our room every morning (mercifully later than the 6 am start you had before) and crawl quietly into bed next to me. Your little chin on my shoulder in an embrace and the closeness with which you bring your face to mine. How much longer do I have to enjoy your sweetness? Your nine-times-out-of-ten willingness to give me a hug and kiss when I ask. Your insistence that you sit in my lap for a story (Thank god we’ve moved on from Piggy Pie from earlier this year! You’ve replaced Gritch the Witch with the goblin babies from Outside Over There). I pray I never forget the feeling of your little body curled into mine, arms and legs wrapped around me in a hug, and your soft curls tickling my chin and nose. I admit that just to savor your warmth and little self a bit longer I don’t mind falling asleep next to you sometimes. Your normally exuberant little bouncing body (the curls accentuate the bounce in your step) is still and quiet, your breathing deep—though we both know I also resent that bedtime game you like to play too. Man, do you play me at times—all that “frying”, or threats that if I leave you’ll start to “fry”! I know for a fact you don’t put your daddy through such bedtime antics when he is alone with you both in the evenings. But that is just your “special” way with me.
I hope we continue to have a special way with each other. I’ll take the good with the not-so-good, because the good is so addictive. I wish that this year will bring us closer, but that you spread your wings a bit more too. Micah has discovered art…what will your discovery be?
I’m going to try to write you and your brother a letter every year on your birthday. I can’t imagine the day when we pour over these together in amazement that you were ever so little, and yet I also suspect that day will come way sooner than I think. I love you little Levi, with all my heart. Sweet dreams my little (devil) angel, tomorrow you'll be three!
Kisses, your Mama