Two Words That Broke My Heart
July 19th, 2014
A few days ago, Buggie said “polar bear” and it nearly broke my heart.
It’s not that I have any particular attachment to, fondness for, or (on the flip side) recurring nightmares involving fuzzy white bears.
No, it’s because Buggie has always adorably mispronounced their name. For as long as he’s been able to talk, Buggie has referred to his beloved stuffed polar bear as “pola-dare.”
It was completely endearing and utterly winsome. It was also one of the last vestiges of his babyhood. And now it’s gone, along with pretty much everything baby-ish about my son.
He’s three years old – boy howdy, is he ever – and every day (sometimes it seems like every second) I see him growing up.
Buggie used to be really solid. Never fat, but reassuringly thick, with a low center of gravity and a satisfying heft to him when he’d throw himself into my arms. In recent months, he’s stretched out. He’s lean, almost thin, and I can see his ribs when he stretches his arms above his head.
He’s a child now, not a baby. His words are clearer, his pronunciation more precise. He gets out more syllables now without getting tangled up.
He runs like a boy and not like a toddler – the adorable off-kilter jolts have smoothed into well-controlled movements, and I’m pretty sure he’s better at soccer than I ever was.
Buggie rides comfortably on the big-kid tagalong bike we bought for Miss Mouse and has taken to boycotting the behind-the-bike trailer he sometimes shares with Birdie. He’s a big kid, after all (and Birdie is a known hair-puller).
All of this growth is killing me, even as it delights and amazes me.
I watch him running down the sidewalk and I want to shout – “Spread your wings and fly, my love!” and “Get back in the nest this instant, mister!” — at the same time. If I opened my mouth, I honestly don’t know which phrase would escape. So I smile and wave, instead, and he comes pelting up to me and flings himself at me and says “Mommy, I love you.”
And I smooth down his hair, which always sticks up like a hedgehog’s when he’s hot and sweaty (which is most of the time) and repeat the phrase back to him.
Then I try to get him to say “vacuum cuner,” but it comes out “vacuum cleaner” and he looks puzzled when this correct pronunciation makes me sniffle.