Charlie, where are your clothes?
I was getting dressed. I can't find my Ninja Turtle mask.
There was worry and desperation in your voice. I got out of bed, foggy, confused about your nakedness, puzzled by your alertness at this hour of the night. You took me downstairs. I turned on the kitchen light.
There it is! The mask you had made yesterday at Caleb's birthday party was laying on the table, just where you'd left it. You scurried back to me, still naked, and I took you back upstairs to find your pajamas and convince you to go back to bed.
I was waiting for the clock to turn seven, but it wasn't turning seven, you said, Mommy, will you lay with me?
Even though Gideon would be up at any moment, even though I am desperate for every moment of sleep I can catch right now, I couldn't refuse. You ask for so little and when you do ask, it's quiet and sweet, never a demand, always a polite request.
I laid down next to you and your Ninja Turtle mask and brushed your hair away from your forehead.
Mommy, I was dreaming of Gramma. Mommy, remember when you used to lay with me in Minneapolis?
Yes, I remember. You're such a good boy, Charlie.
You're welcome, Mommy. You say "you're welcome" often, even when it's not quite right, as if you understand that every compliment I give you is also a kind of thank you.
Thank you for your softness, your easy nature, your kindness.
You're such a good Mommy. How do you know to return a compliment with a compliment? Where did you learn that?
Gideon started to cry. I have to go feed Gideon, Charlie. I'll come back to check on you when I'm done.
You didn't cry. You didn't demand that I stay with you or get angry at me for leaving you for your baby brother. You let me go.
Last Monday, I took you to Coffee Please on a rainy afternoon. Finny was in school and Gideon slept in the stroller while we shared a raspberry scone and played Uno. You listened patiently as I taught you how to play and you lost graciously when my cards disappeared before yours. I asked you if you wanted to play again and you simply said, No, thanks. I want to go home.
Do you know how far your little No, thanks gets you? You're so reasonable, no pouting, no fight.
Charlie, will you try your lasagna?
And it's hard to be frustrated with someone so gracious.
There are so many days I wish I could stop and write down all the precious things you say, but our life is full of movement right now with very few moments to pause and capture, so I hold them all in my heart, even if they disappear from my slow, tired brain.
I had no idea how you would be as a big brother, no sense of how you would react to sharing me with a baby, but from the moment Gideon was born, you claimed him as your own. I've never seen you jealous or angry; only helpful and loving.
You kiss him all day long. It's time for kiss time! you exclaim as you shower him with kisses. And it's not just Gideon. Without even asking, you'll come up unexpectedly and kiss me over and over again--my face, my hand, my arms, my nose. And Finny. And Daddy. You fill our buckets.
Where did you get your good nature? Where did you get your soft, quiet temperament? So patient, so forgiving, so ready to love, and willing to give. I marvel at you. You are three and selfless. You rarely get ruffled, only want to please. You are a gift.
With your gruff little voice and your penchant for weapons--swords, light sabers, blasters--someone might mistake you for a tough guy.
But your the best kind of tough guy. My little boy who snuggles up and watches Daniel Tiger with me on the couch. My little boy who quietly paints Komodo Dragons on the easel in your smock, filling every inch of the page, not letting me tell you how much I love it until it's all done. My little boy who kisses as often as he sword fights. Your curls are gone and you're getting too big for me to carry, but you are still my baby. My big, tough baby who plays quietly, lives lovingly, and giggles contagiously.
My words can never adequately express how proud and blessed I feel to have you as my son.
two-wheeler bike rider,
The world is lucky to know you.