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Posts Tagged ‘child’

‎I heard a small cough from the top of the stairs as I checked my purse to ensure it contained all of the necessities I would need for the day ahead. Up until that little cough the house was quiet; I was the only one awake.

He didn’t need to be up that early, not today. On a regular school day this was the time I would be kissing his cheek in his bed and he would be groaning for just “five more minutes.” Of course today, the day he could have five more minutes, he was awake anyway.

I turned my head to see him slowly making his way down the stairs, his blanket and favourite stuffed animal – a little brown bear wearing blue pajamas which he has named Toby – in one arm and the other bent slightly, rubbing the last remnants of sleep from his eyes.

“Hi Mama,” he said softly, a little smile on his lips. “I heard you and wanted to see you before you left.”

Wanted.

He got up out of his warm bed to walk down the stairs because he wanted to see me, to give me a hug and a kiss before I left for work.

He wanted to see me.

Most of my days are filled with people who need things from me; people who call me and email me and stop me in the hallway because they need me to do something, finish something, read something, find something.

But this morning, with the early sun streaming in the window, a little boy placed a sweet kiss on my cheek and wrapped me up in a hug and held on tight for almost a whole minute.

And he did it for no other reason than because he wanted to.

And I can’t even put into words how great it felt to be wanted.

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He fell asleep without it, something I never would have imagined even a few short months ago.  He agreed that I could wash it, agreeing to that even more easily than had been done in the past.  But I didn’t plan out the loads very well and it ended up in the very last one of the day.

He went down to the basement to watch the hockey game, his newest, greatest obsession.  I wondered if he would even miss it, tumbling around there in the washing machine. He fell asleep just before the end of the game; couldn’t keep his eyes open any longer and had to be carried up to his bed.  He snuggled down under the comforter, not even realizing what was missing.

But I knew.

So I waited up until I heard the buzzer to sound, signaling that the load was dry and I pulled it out, leaving everything else to be folded in the morning.

The rest could wait; this could not.

I took it up to his room and pulled back the sheets, tucking it under his arm, knowing full-well he wouldn’t notice but wanting to do it anyway.  I didn’t want him to wake up and realize it was missing, wonder where it was, be sad that it wasn’t with him.

I don’t remember when it started, his love affair with this blanket.  I look back through my memories but I can’t find the moment; it has just always been so.

With my daughter I wanted her to have something to be attached to, a doll or a blanket, something that was her favourite, that she loved and carried with her.  I thought that was part of childhood.  But, as is so much her way, she would have nothing of it.  Sure there were things she loved, obsessed about for a day here or a week there but she always moved on to something else, waiting to see what was coming next, never settling for the familiar.  It’s amazing how defined their personalities are, even from so near the beginning.

I laugh to think that this blanket was never actually meant for him at all.  My mom made it for my daughter when she was heading off to day care for the first time.  We agreed that her baby blanket, also hand-made by my mom, was too precious to send with her so she made her a “spare.”  Really just a mish-mash of some extra wool she had, it ended up long and narrow in shape.  We agreed it would be perfect for her to nap with.

In all honesty, it was probably less comforting for her than for me, a new mother leaving her baby in the care of a stranger for the first time.  She went off with little distress, the blanket there or not, really no bother to her either way.

I don’t remember how it ended up with my son.  I must have had it stashed in the back of the closet with the other baby items that we deemed fit to pass down, not too ratty to be handed down to him.  I wish I could remember.  I wish I had realized at the time how important it would become, but that is always the way. So many of the moments that end up being so defining get lost in the day-to-day, swept under the rug and filed so far back in my memory that I can’t retrieve them any more.

At some point it ended up with a name.  A cute little throw-away name I thought of on the spot one day.  I didn’t know it would stick.  If I had, perhaps I would have come up with something a little more sophisticated. If only I knew I would say it a dozen times a day, if not more.  If only I knew it would become known to everyone in our family, and even a few outside of it.  The women at his day care centre also knew it by name, would refer to it on the way out the door each day, to make sure he didn’t forget it.

But forgotten it has been, a few times at least.  I remember having to leave the house at 8:00 one night and go to the gym where my husband works out, begging the young girl behind the front desk to please unlock the door to the day care to retrieve it for me, describing in detail the distraught young boy I had at home, refusing to go to sleep without it.  She finally agreed to open the door and as I peeked my head in, I saw it immediately, folded neatly on the table.  A small note had been placed on top with my son’s name printed neatly.  Of course they would know who it belonged to.

We have driven an hour out of our way on date night to deliver it to my in-laws, having left it accidentally in the back of the car when dropping off the kids.  During our family vacation last summer the blanket warranted an additional carry-on as it didn’t fit in my purse and certainly could not be trusted with the likes of checked baggage. It did not need to be said that losing it on our journey would ruin the entire trip, creating a void that not even Disneyland could fill.

At one point it started to develop a hole, right in the middle.  The hole grew and grew until eventually my son would put it over his head and wear it around the house like a poncho.  Quite the fashion statement for a three-year old.  Of course I then became terrified that he would end up with it around his head while he slept.  Because I needed something else to worry about.

The next time my mom was in town she came up with a solution.  She couldn’t knit the hole back together but she could cover it up.  She sewed a piece of fabric over top of the hole, from one side of the blanket to the other.  She thought it looked horrible, told me never to tell anyone she made the blanket, so embarassed by how it ended up.  My son, on the other hand, thought it was amazing.  Even more amazing than it had been originally.

He was in love all over again.

We do the standard jokes.  We say that he will take it to university with him, that he will have it tucked under the table at his wedding reception. There were days when I actually thought that might be true but now I see it changing, ever so slightly by degrees as the weeks go by.

I can now see that there will come a day when he won’t need it any longer; a time when he won’t drag it behind him into our room after a bad dream, or call it by name during story time. He will no longer find comfort in that beautiful mish-mash blanket, woven together with love.

And one day he will forget completely and it will sit unnoticed for days, and then weeks. I will put it away in the back of the closet, along with all of the memories it holds.

But not yet.

For now I will continue to pack it in his suitcase for sleepovers at grandma’s house, take it with us for long rides in the car, and wait up at night until it’s done in the dryer just so I can tuck it in next to him while he sleeps.

Because neither he nor I are quite ready to say goodbye just yet.

And I will take comfort in that.

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I don’t remember the last time you slept in bed with us. You used to do it all the time; I used to dream of the day when it would stop. You managed to take up a lot of room for a little person and your knees and elbows always found their way into the small of my back, digging around between my ribs.

I don’t remember the last time you reached out to hold my hand to cross the street. Now when I try to reach for yours you roll your eyes at me and whine “moooooooom.” Apparently you’re too old for things like that.

I don’t remember the last time you cried when you went to school or daycare or to your grandparents. You always went fairly willingly without us, always yearning for a new adventure, the next challenge you could tackle alone.

I don’t remember the last time I read a story to you without you reading along with me. I am so excited that you can experience the wonder of reading books by yourself; opening doors to a whole other world for you. But I miss reading out loud to you, rocking with you in our chair which neither one of us really fits in anymore, let alone together.

I do remember the last time you used a bottle and how proud of you we were for finally giving them up. At the time we thought you would never willingly throw them away. We spent many hours coming up with strategies and tricks to get you to move to a sippy cup. I was sure we had somehow ruined you, your teeth, your stomach, by letting you use them as long as we did. Now I wish I wouldn’t have made such a big deal about it.

I do remember the last time you rode a bike with training wheels. You were so desperate to be a big girl. I could see you sitting on your “little kid” bike at the end of the driveway, watching with envy as other neighbourhood kids rode by on their two-wheelers. I wanted to tell you that it’s okay; not to rush; to enjoy being a kid as long as you could. I knew you wouldn’t listen even if I did say the words out loud.

I do remember the last time you fit into the dress that my grandmother had made for me. You pranced around the living room in it, even though the zipper would barely close and it was about 4 inches too short. After I managed to convince you to change out of it I tucked it away in your closet so you wouldn’t pull it out and try to wear it again. Now it will be put away as it was for the years before you wore it. Put away to be pulled out years from now, maybe when you have a daughter yourself and maybe she’ll dance around in it just the way you did, that last time.

So often being a parent is about the “first times.” The first step, the first word, the first smile. I’m slowly learning that it’s actually the “last times” that mean the most.

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