1.We watch the movie together on the couch - a film that we've both seen approximately 57 times. He clutches his bear and monkey, every once in awhile burying his tiny face in them and inhaling deeply - absorbing their smell that he must find so familiar and calming. The part with the donkey in the carriage comes on the screen and I look at his face expectantly. I know he laughs at this scene every time. I love his laugh because it is so full and giving. His laugh recharges my batteries and fills my soul to the brim.
2.I watch him and his brother from my perch on the bench bordering the playground. I want to take out my book to read while they play - giggling and running - sweating around the temples. I know that as soon as I let down my guard and pull out my book something will happen. His impulses will take over and someone will get pushed, hit, or bitten. I try hard to imagine what it must be like to live with such impulsive behavior.
3.I'm listening to him play in the other room. His life is one giant continuation of every movie he's ever seen. When played through a screen, he absorbs absolutely everything that flashes before his eyes. I struggle with how it takes him longer than usual to memorize songs I sing to him every night, but will memorize the complex script of a movie he's seen only once. I read once that his birthmom loved movies, and I wonder how deeply interests can be engrained into the chromosomes that make up our being. I wonder about such things now that he is in my life. These are the questions I ask no one in particular, wanting answers that I can't have.
4.I ask him questions all day. So many questions that I become weary of hearing myself speak. He only finds the time and interest to half-answer three, and only after I make him stop and look me in the eyes. Sometimes I feel as though our conversations only happen on his terms. Sometimes this makes me sad. Most times I just keep asking the unanswered questions.
5.His eyes open wide and get big when he's done something he's proud of. "You're so proud of me?" he asks with wide eyes and a voice so loud that it carries across the rooms of his sleeping brothers. Of course I'm proud. Every day I find something else to be proud of. Just when I think about how I can't understand him, or that he can't possibly be any worse off than he is at a certain moment, my heart swells with pride.
6.My boy. My oldest. I watch him growl ferociously at passers-by. I know he is pretending to be a dinosaur, like the one he saw earlier. They probably think he's just being a naughty little boy. I try to decide whether I should care what they think. I decide that for his own good I should. I can't have him running around playgrounds scaring other little kids. It just isn't good social skills.
7.Someone offers advice I didn't ask for. I find myself wondering how they can even begin to understand this child I love with my whole heart. This child that I, myself, have trouble understanding. I want them to stop talking and to look at him like I do. I want them to remember that he's only four. I want them to love him without expectations. Although I look into their eyes and nod in agreement, I also just want them to walk away if they can't see him the way I do.
His piercing scream fills my ears for the eighth time today. It's as though it is a reflex to him, something he just automatically does when I do or tell him something he doesn't like. I find myself avoiding confrontation because I despise that scream. But that's his intention, right? It takes his dad over the top every time. I can't understand it, no matter how hard I try - it is so far from my practical nature to do anything like scream the instant someone disagrees with my perceived plan. I wonder to myself if and when this will end. Will he do this to his kindergarten teacher, or worse - his high school teacher?
When I walk in the door his smile is the first I see. It's that smile that I think about when I'm away from him. It's that smile that glues my broken heart back together. It comes out when he is trying to make his brother laugh, and when he thinks something is ironic, although he doesn't know yet what that means. I get to see it when I walk in the door and he's missed me. I can feel it warming me from the inside.
I'm trying to stay awake this early morning as the sun rises above the trees outside our house and a tiny baby insists on my company. I lay him on the bed in front of me and will him to go to sleep, allowing me just 20 more minutes of night-time. At that moment he tiptoes into my bedroom and silently climbs onto the bed next to me. Without saying a word to me he lies down next to his baby brother. I watch, in awe as he whispers sweet words to the tiny person I brought home less than three weeks ago. This gentleness is a new development. I want to see more.