Nicholas is my companion this morning. He is following me around asking questions and seeking my attention.
"I want different pants." He complained tugging at the jeans he just grew into, "Don't like these...Don't like 'em. They're too big." They are too big, but not for him. He is a very large child, this baby of mine and the jeans were Jacob's just last spring. Too large for a baby, indeed, but they fit him just fine. I took them off and searched for something else.
"How about these?" I asked holding up shorts. "No, I...don't...like...those." These? "No." These? "No" and so on... Finally, I grabbed a pair of dark blue sweats. "These are cozy," I said putting them on him. "No, they're...cold." he replied, "Don't...like...them."
"Owwie," he said pointing to a tiny speck of blood on his arm, "It's blood!" he panicked. "Go get some tissue," I told him and he came back with enough toilet tissue to embalm himself with--head to toe. I tore off a small piece and held it to the ghastly speck wound. He played with my thumb nail and ran his other hand up and down my arm, "Mama's arm," he smiled. "Yes, Mama's arm."
He discovered my keep sake hat box on the hope chest and began digging through the pictures. "Here's Simeon... I see Alex... Look at Jacob," he said staring at his own birth announcement. "Who's the baby?" I asked him. "Baby's cryin'," he said dismissing the child and handing me the photograph.
He found another picture from last year's family vacation and recognized us all, but I couldn't help but notice how much each of the boys has grown. Pudgy-cheeked smiles with little, round milk teeth have given way to more defined jaw lines and large, razor edged grown-up teeth. Legs are longer, hair thicker, chests broader. They have all grown so much.
Then, Nicholas found the double-sided, fine toothed infant comb I had been given at the hospital when he was born. "What's that, Mama?" he asked. "That's your comb, Nicholas," and so he stuck it in his long, thick curls and tried to comb his hair. The comb was useless on him now-- even ridiculous-- and I was tempted to feel sad. I was tempted to miss that baby Nicholas and his sweet smelling head, those little infant hands once always in motion, now frozen forever in this photograph. I can make out the little palm and the long thin fingers, I can feel them on my face and neck in my memory--so delicate and soft.
I suddenly and keenly felt a need to appreciate what I have of him today and just breathe it all in--his thick dark curls, his dirty feet, his chunky legs, often sticky face, and how he always smells faintly of peanut butter. I am so happy to have this child, a little companion who wants to be with me-- who follows me around. One day even those big jeans he wore this morning will look very small. One day, I will miss these wide and dirty feet almost as much as I miss those delicate pink infant fingers. He won't always want my attention so completely; he won't always bring me his "Owwies," or gently rub my arm with round toddler fingers.