Fine. I'll go ahead and admit it. You should know the truth.
I still think of you as a baby.
Yes, yes, I know that you are six years old. You are rapidly gaining on your brother in height. You tell all sorts of funny jokes and know enough potty humor that I worry about your grandmother visiting. You bathe yourself and always remember your books on library day.
But none of that matters. You are my baby. You are still small enough that I can scoop you up and blow on your belly. You don't object to hugs and kisses in front of kids at school. The crook of my arm is perfect size for snuggling. You are still small enough for the occasional emotional meltdown. You still need help with buttons and cutting up your chicken and enough other small things that I don't need to think of you as independent. As actually growing up.
I still refer to you as my baby if anyone asks.
But all of that is going to change. I'm sure once your actual baby brother arrives next month, you are going to suddenly seem enormous.
I'm trying to take advantage of my illusion that you are still small.
This week, we went on a date. Just the two of us.
I let you choose the restaurant. You chose one of my favorite places. You asked to sit outside, and then looked crushed when the waitress said there were no available tables on the patio. We sat next to each other at our table, perusing the menu together. You said that you didn't want to order from the kids menu, that you wanted adult food. After reading through the options, you asked if adults ate chicken fingers, because actually, that was what you wanted.
I shared my pasta with you and you offered to share your chicken (although, unfortunately, I still have a strong chicken aversion, so I had to decline.) We toasted each other with glasses of lemonade.
We talked about growing up, and music we liked, and you composed a thank you letter to me there at the table.
We got a lot of sweet looks and smiles from our serving staff.
After dinner, we went to a book store and picked out a new book for story time. (Although you said that you really wanted a Star Wars trivia book). We went and got ice cream and sang silly songs together on the way home.
It was a wonderful evening out with my boy.
I'm slowly, slowly coming around to the idea that you may not actually be a baby. That you are actually a full fledged boy. One that can order his own food at a grown up restaurant. One that can propose a darling toast ("To time with Mommy!"). One that is ready to be a big brother.
I'm going to stop calling you the baby. I'll work on treating you less like an infant and more like the growing child you are. We'll let that role be assumed by Duck.
But I still want you to know, that deep down in the recesses of both my heart and my memories, you will forever be my baby boy.