Ever since he turned three, Ian’s become (seemingly) more and more helpless. He’s forgotten how to use a fork, or feed himself. He’s lost the knack of washing his hands. He’s always been prone – no pun intended – to falling on his face, so I don’t yet know if he’s forgotten how to walk, or not.
Ian asks for help at every turn. I can’t do this. I can’t do that. Daddy, help me!
Last night we took apart Ian’s crib, and assembled his new bed. I’m sure if I’d take the time to think about it, some part of me would be a little saddened by this. But the three-year-old part of me is too excited by the ladder and tent. Ian was less so, at first.
I started removing bolts from the frame. Ian, like he does, asked why. I told him that he was too big for his bed, and that another little baby needed to use it. ‘No! It’s my bed!’
‘Well, that’s pretty selfish. You don’t need this bed anymore, and you have a cool big-boy bed to use, now. Don’t you want to share this bed with someone who needs it?’
‘No! I’m not a big boy! I’m! A! Ba! By! I’m not a big boy!’
Peter Pan doesn’t want to grow up, hence his ‘need’ for help. Babies need help, big boys don’t.
This morning Ian woke up at six o’clock. This, unfortunately, is nothing new. After my shower, I found Ian in our room, standing next to the bed, and reading with Kelly. He had one of his bulky, foam-board books, with inch-thick pages and monosyllabic words. Ian is far beyond this; Peter Pan is not.
The book was about farm animals, and each page was a single-piece puzzle. Ian ‘needed’ help with the sheep.
‘Mommy, help me!’
‘Ian, you don’t need help. You know how to do this. One end’s the head, and one end’s the tail. Figure it out.’ Kelly’s been on summer vacation for a few weeks, and hasn’t yet been able to sleep in.
Suddenly, I had a vision. Ian, at twenty-something, playing with Hot Wheels under his bed. I paused while pulling on a shirt. ‘Ian,’ I said, ‘I just want you to know that, when you’re eighteen, you’re out of here.’
He looked at me. ‘Huh?’
‘When you grow up, you won’t be living at home.’
He frowned. ‘I’m not living at home?’
I’d dug my own hole. ‘No, no. When you’re much, much older. Much later.’
Kelly rolled her eyes. ‘You know that’s the first thing he’s going to tell Grammie when he sees her.’
‘Good! I want everyone to know!’