Today is Harvey's birthday. Harvey is five years old today. Five years ago I swallowed a quarter cup of castor oil to induce labor, and I had NO IDEA what I was getting into. I mean, with becoming a parent and all. I had no idea how challenging and frustrating and surprising and enlightening and all-around all-consuming parenthood would be. Castor oil, I had a sense how THAT was gonna go. That part pretty much came out as expected.
Harvey at five years old is a wonder. He's loving, compassionate, empathetic and curious. He's also bossy (but not as bad as some other kids) and gluttonous (but not as bad as I project onto him.) He says things like, "I just always want to hug you, Mama." and "I just love you Elijah" and "Zion! Just give it to me!" He says the word 'just' a lot, I guess. He sits in on a lot of our Vineyard-style Small Groups and he seems to have picked up this denominational affectation.
At five Harvey is getting braver and attempting more physical feats. Recently at the playground he called me over to where he was perched atop a playhouse. He didn't want me to help him down — he just wanted me to stand three feet away and watch him jump. He said very specifically: "Don't help. I just want you near me. I want you to stand there. " The second time he asked me to perform this task he explained it with even more self-awareness. "I need you to help me be brave," he said. My heart just about melted in my throat as I stood next to that playhouse, watching him jump down by himself and then pump his fist in the air at his mission accomplished. This is the job set out for me right now, mothering a child that is all too like myself, and Yes I will stand where you need me to stand, Harvey. Yes I will help you be brave.
More about Harvey at 5 years old: he loves farming and biking and outings and food. He loves picking out clothes and costumes and deciding what things are pretty. "Isn't this so pretty?" He says of his collared-shirt and shorts combo, or about an outfit he's just put on one of his dollies. He also notices when I wear something different and notes brightly, "I like your pretty skirt, Mama." But he's honest and not universally complimentary. At the pond the other day when Zion asked why I had a new swimsuit I replied, "Because my boobs didn't fit in the old one."
"Your boobs don't fit in this one, Mama," Harvey pointed out.
"Well, they mostly fit in this one," I explained. "It IS a bathing suit after all. It's okay if the top part of my boobs show a little in a bathing suit."
Zion summarized the situation thusly: "A little bit in and a little bit out!"
Oh my boys.
I honestly look forward to the next five, ten, and fifteen years, with Harvey learning to bake and sew in earnest, to read and figure, to follow the passions I see already in him and those that have yet to catch me by surprise. At the same time, I relish the present, this perfect moment, when Harvey still gives hugs and asks to be read to and everything is just beginning.
I love that kid, all five years of him. Happy birthday Harvey.