Babies can't put the bread in the toaster, because they will get burned. Only big boys can do that.
Babies can't sit on the big potty, because they will fall in. I can do that because I'm a big boy.
Suddenly I notice that all of Ezra's shirts are too small. Mind you, not because I observe it myself, but because he squeals when it is time to get dressed, demanding a floppy shirt. One that wiggles. I don't want that shirt. That shirt is too tight.
I don't mind Ezra's hell-bent demonstrations of growing up. I actually relish that he's not a baby any more. But at night, after our torturously slow tooth brushing routine and our books and our what-was-your-favorite-thing-about-today, lately he asks, Will you lay with me in three minutes?
And I do, because it's the quietest three minutes of the day.
Will gave me a necklace when Ezra was born, a thin gold chain with three small beads, one for each of us. It has dangled there nearly every day since. As soon as the infant Ezra gained any control of his extremities he found that necklace. When he was nursing we sat in the blue rocking chair in his room a million times a day, and every time he latched his tiny little hand fluttered to my throat and clutched the necklace like a prayer mala.
(The other day he pointed to my breast and asked, Is that your belly?
No, I said. That's my breast.
What is it for?
When you were a baby it made milk and that's how you ate.
Oh. He thought, pointed at one and then the other. This one made milk and that one made water?)
So here we are in the big boy phase. The other night lying next to him in three minutes, watching him sink into slowness, I felt the absentminded starfish of his big boy hand find its way to my necklace. It was a happy jolt, jogging me into remembering those long, slow infant days.
The gift, as we rush into Big, is this: our former selves and all our time together, all of it, is encoded into our muscle memories in a place beyond knowing.