Photos by Katie Cartwright
Next week Ian begins his final year of pre-school. I love the sound of "pre" in front of anything our boys are doing. It always sounds like pre-getting older.
I participated in an event at our local high school last night where parents of incoming 9th graders were finalizing paperwork and participating in an orientation for new high school students. Many of them were wearing looks that suggested they wished their kids were still pre-high school, if not pre-school altogether.
I've shared this before, but I remain fascinated by the dichotomy of our boys' births and the lives they lead.
Elliott had and unpredictable, off script, cliffhanger of a birth day. If there was a plan for his arrival nobody got so much as a glance at it before implementing plans B, C and D. Elliott's life since then, though, very much follows a script. One that he insists on writing and rehearsing at least three days in advance. Today Elliott has no greater goal in life than removing unpredictable from the dictionary.
Ian, on the other hand, came into the world at the exact date and time and place that Katie and the doctors agreed upon over a cup of coffee and a doughnut one morning. He came out weighing exactly what the ultrasound predicted he would. He cried like he was supposed to - much to our relief after our experience with Elliott. And he came home from the hospital precisely when the calendar on our iPhones started beeping to tell us it was time to take Ian home.
That day was the last predictable day in Ian's life.
There are days Elliott makes it easy to forget he was, and for the most part still is, a little boy. He spends so much time contemplating and explaining the meaning of life to Ian and his parents that I am prone to forget his endless hours of running and bouncing about with the spirit of a 6 year old. Ian. Ian is another story. He never lets you consider for a second that he is anything other than a little boy. You want a quick burst of humor out of Ian, suggest or simply think for a millisecond that he is considering life any more seriously than Nancy Pelosi considered voting for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.
I think families are like a favorite recipe made up of the ingredients of its individual parents and sons and daughters. Granted, like all recipes, some days we throw in too much of an ingredient or two and the recipe doesn't taste quite as good, but we eat it and enjoy it anyways because we know what it has tasted like before, and what it will again taste like tomorrow.
Ian is our two tablespoons of humor, a teaspoon of lightheartedness, and when he's sure we're all looking - a dash of obscenity. There are days when the rest of us can get to worrying about our jobs, money, how tall the grass is in the yard compared to the neighbor's, or the likelihood that a human can outrun an automobile (Don't talk to Elliott about how fast you are unless you can instantly convert your 40 yard dash time into MPH). It's in those moments that Ian will invariably say or do something completely unworryable to make sure the family cake rises as it should.
I love that Ian still carries around his stuffed monkey in one hand and drags his favorite blanket behind him with the other. That in itself completes my recipe. But I know the day is coming fast when both of those things will look foolish in his hands, probably not to me, but to others - like middle school teachers and employers.
It's inevitable. Ian is going to develop a side of life that is at least serious enough to conclude most people's pets don't bleed cotton when punctured, and carrying around your baby blanket is fatal to the dating life. I've got to confess, I'm going to miss that monkey, and I'd have no problem if we enveloped him each night with that same blanket forever. If only we could just freeze time, right here, right where it is.
We can't. Some day I'll be glad of that. Until then, though, as so many stress over the reality of their young ones going off to middle school or high school - or God forbid - college, I'm going to be thankful that I still have one carrying around his monkey, and if you ask him real nice, he'll let you hear that monkey pass gas.