By Shannon Ralph
When Lucas was one year old, I never thought I would enjoy another year of his life as much as I did that one. He was this angelic, chubby little blonde thing with dimples that just wouldn’t quit. And he was so happy. He just sat around and played with his matchbox cars repeating “Brrrrummm” over and over again. I adored him and was certain I would never enjoy him as much as I did at that very time.
Then he turned two. And he developed a sense of humor. And a streak of independence. And a sweetness that eclipsed everything he was at one year old. And I thought to myself, “This is it. He is perfection personified. I will never enjoy him as much as I do right now.”
Then he turned three. Frankly, three was not my favorite. He was a bit of a beast. But we survived and he turned four. Four was magical. He was this perfect little thing who believed completely in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and fairy dust and magic. He relished the things that the rest of us had grown too busy and beleaguered to even notice. A yellow leaf twirling in the wind. Ants slowly making their way across the sidewalk. Fat worms wriggling in the dirt, warmed by the summer sun. He could draw, cut, color, and paste for hours on end. He smelled amazing when he was freshly bathed and dressed in his cozy pajamas. Four years old had to be the perfect age.
Each year of Lucas’s life, I have thought, “This is it. He is perfection personified. I will never enjoy him as much as I do right now.” And each year I am surprised that he keeps getting better and better.
He is nine years old now. Almost ten. I never thought I would enjoy a nine-year-old boy (or a boy at all, for that matter). I could easily list the things about a nine-year-old boy that bug me. He leaves his dirty socks laying around everywhere. And his underwear. He tunes me out any time a screen of any sort is in front of him. He is sarcastic at times. His feet stink. He manipulates his brother who absolutely worships him. He is kind of lazy. Sort of obnoxious. Somewhat annoying. But tonight, out of the blue, I found myself thinking, “This is it. He is perfection personified. I will never enjoy him as much as I do right now.”
He was taking a shower at the time. At nine years old, Lucas is very a much a little boy who wants very much to be a big man. He wants to shower himself. He doesn’t need to his mom to help him. But like generations of kids before him, he is pretty convinced that aliens are going to abduct his entire family while he is alone in the shower. So he has asked me to stay in bathroom with him when he showers. And of course, as a survivor of the pre-teen alien abduction nightmares, I happily oblige.
I was sitting on the toilet while Lucas showered and he was chattering on as he so often does. I tend to tune him out at times because he just talks so much, but tonight I was listening.
“Ask me about particles, Mom. Or space. Ask me anything about space,” he said.
“Okay, Lucas, what about a light year? Is a light year a measurement of time or distance?” I attempted to stump him.
“Oh Mom, that’s too easy. It’s distance,” he exclaimed. “People think it is time because it is a year, but it is really distance. How far light travels in a year.”
“Alright, you’re smart.”
“Did you know that the Big Bang is still going on?”
“Really?” I asked skeptically.
“Really,” he replied. “Right now, at this very moment, we are banging.”
“Right now? In this bathroom? You and I are banging?”
“Yep. The Big Bang is still happening today. We are banging. The universe is still changing. The Big Bang isn’t over.”
At that moment—sitting on a toilet watching a blue shower curtain dancing with the movements of my clumsy son taking a shower—I loved him. I loved his enthusiasm. I loved his voice. I loved his constant, incessant science talk. I loved his weird sense of humor. I loved the smell of his deodorant sitting on the sink. I loved that he still likes talking to me. I loved that he needed me there, sitting on that toilet, to protect him from the monsters that lurked in his imagination. It was such an ordinary, daily life sort of moment. One of those everyday, uneventful, unexciting moments that make you pause and think. That make you realize how very lucky you are to have a part in creating such an extraordinary person.
This is it. He is perfection personified. I will never enjoy him as much as I do right now.