I don't know of an adult who hasn't at some point envied the briefest moment of the peace and bliss that exists in childhood. We regret that we didn't enjoy the absence of responsibility, the adoration of those around us, the ability to eat mac n cheese as an entire meal with no worries of calories or carbs when we were kids, and now that time in our lives is forever over. We get up to go to work, pay the bills, clean the house, mow the yard, and do all sorts of unfun things over and over again. As we grow older, we start having to work for the adoration of others. Wearing multiple layers of swim clothes backwards, or eyes holders, or headlamps begin to lose the coolness as friends look at us strangely instead of seeing them and instantly squealing, "My turn! My turn!" And I have never seen an adult wearing shiny shoes. We eat tiny amounts of bland food, feeling guilty at ordering mac-n-cheese even as a side, and count the calories that we gain in even looking at Baskin Robbins as we drive by. I suppose that we love children so much because we do get to experience and enjoy the perks and fun of childhood through them, to re-experience it with their joy coupled with our wisdom of how brief and wondorous the time is.
My eyes holders wearing, pancake eating, ouchie saying, eating-noise making, shiny shoed three year old, however, spent time yesterday being SAD that he is no longer a BABY! Ryder is the very essence of childhood joy. He plays all day, he runs with his arms all flailing about, his friends don't ridicule him for playing with imaginary toys-they just play with them, too. He sings and talks to himself, and makes his eating noise when he eats....and all this oddness is CUTE (for now). He has grandparents and family and friends who adore him, and a mom and dad who think he is the coolest kid ever (and would never, ever, ever wish to trade in this amazing personality for the sweet and adorable, yet silent and unfunny baby).
Yesterday, he asked me "Mommy, where are my baby clothes?" Apparently, my child is more sentimental than I am because I sell his outgrown clothes in consignment sales, and buy clothes that fit him, and therefore, spend very little money on clothes (which I'm sure he will appreciate one day). One of his baby outfits, we shared with Brody. I have his Mule Day t shirt, his first birthday T shirt, and another button up shirt.....and that is all of his baby clothes that I still have. I explain this to him, only to have him panic and ask, "But what will I wear when I am a baby again?" And so I must explain the aging process to my 3 year old. I explain that he will only get older, and will never be a baby again. (Which has it's good points, because when Kyle and Kellee were getting ready to have Brody, Ryder told me he didn't want to go back in my belly again.) I tell him that babies can't eat candy, or run, or wear eyes holders. Babies have to wear diapers and they can't talk to tell their Mommies what they want. In talking about what babies can't do that three year olds can do, he seemed to see the superiority of being a big boy over being a baby again.
However, he did ask me to finish feeding him his lunch of vegetable beef soup. And when we were at Cracker Barrell for supper, he did ask me to hold him before his pankcake came, and then when we got home, he insisted that just try to put on his baby clothes. I brought down the two Tshirts (both from when he was about a year old) and he tugged, and wriggled, and pulled, and finally got the 12 month sized Mule Day T shirt over his head. He was very proud to be wearing his baby clothes, ignoring the fact that the shirt showed half his belly and barely fit over his head.
He finally traded in his baby shirt for his Batman shirt and cape, and wrestled with Daddy and Aprilia before bedtime. So perhaps it's just human nature to feel a nostalgic longing for the past, no matter how old we are. I know one day, I will be looking back on these days when I was waitingforRyder to ask if he could wear his swim clothes and his cape to quilting, with a nostalgic longing to have me be able to heal all his hurts with a kiss and remembering how wonderful it feels to have an arm hug from the boy who will always be my baby.
***1st photo: Camden (ab 10 months) and Ryder (about 2 months); photo taken by Denise Skelton (http://www.skeltonphotography.com/)
2nd photo: Ryder at about 6 months in Columbia
3rd photo: Ryder at 3 (Feb. 9, 2011) in his baby clothes :)