Lately I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my youngest son as he prepares to celebrate his 32nd birthday. At a recent gathering I chatted with a young father about his toddler and what he has in store over the next few years. This young man spoke tenderly of his excitement at the creativity and inquisitiveness that he knew his young son was about to embark upon, and his musings took me by the hand and down a path of reflections of my Asa as a young child.
Over his 32 years he has given me an abundance of precious moments, but as a toddler he had me laughing with not only humor but amazement, and crying with joy and wonder. In my walk down that reflective path I recalled the period of time when I was in graduate school and writing papers often. We had an electric typewriter, which three-year-old Asa was infatuated with. In between my paper writing, Asa would want to do his own writing, so I would make a big show of putting a blank paper into the typewriter and let him ‘write’. He would tap tap tap on the keys for several minutes, and then whip the page out enthusiastically while shouting “Read it to me, read it to me!” So, I would look carefully at his page of typographical gibberish and make up a story, pretending to read it as if they were words he had actually typed on the page. He sat spellbound, listening to what he believed he had created himself. Pleased with himself, he would want to write again, and again, and again. Each time, over several days, he fell for my innocent deceptions. And then one day. . .the tables turned. Again, he sat tap tap tapping on the keys, creating a new masterpiece. On this day he excitedly pulled the page from the typewriter asking me to “Read it, read it!” Again, I began to ‘read’ his story as I made up my own silly bit of fiction to entertain him. This time, however, he chubby little face looked so disappointed. I couldn’t imagine why this story, not much varied from so many others I’d made up recently should not please him. When I asked him what was the matter he blubbered, “That’s not what I wrote!” Oh, no, I thought. Now what will I do? “Oh my goodness, I guess Mommy forgot how to read, so you will have to read it to me,” I squealed. “I can’t wait to hear your story.” He hesitated, not sure he could trust me, while I held my breath, hoping he’d fall for this new deception. After a few seconds he took the paper, smiled confidently and began to read his story.
On occasion, Asa the toddler would have a spell of naughtiness – or perhaps I would have a spell of impatience – and I would send him to his room. He would get as far as the stairs and begin to dawdle, watching my every move. I would catch his eye and say, “You had better get going,” in that threatening way that only mothers can do. He would move up a step or two, every so slowly, still watching my every move. “I’m going to count to 3 and you had better be up in your room by the time I get to three,” I would threaten. Then he would take another excruciatingly slow step upward or just turn away as if he couldn’t hear me. That’s when I would begin the count. . .one. . .two. . .
And honestly, it was so comical to watch him that by now I couldn’t really even remember why I’d felt the need for him to go to his room, but a parent couldn’t back down could she? I couldn’t let him think I didn’t mean it, could I? “. . .and a quarter,” I would say, adding in “I’m almost there, you better get moving mister.” Trying to sound stern, like I meant it though at this point I really only wanted to avoid laughing out loud and blowing my whole stern mother act. “Two and a half. . .” And though I’m sure he knew nothing of fractions at his tender age, whenever I’d get to two and three quarters he would race up the stairs into his room.
Between the ages of four and five years Asa had a vivid imagination which included many imaginary friends. On one occasion when we were stopping at McDonalds I prepared to close the truck door behind me when he said, “Wait, wait, my friends aren’t all out yet!” At this point I was use to his references to ‘friends’ that I knew only existed in his mind, so I apologized and waited patiently as he ‘watched’ his friends get out of the truck and chatted with each one amicably. It seemed to be taking quite a bit of time, so finally I asked, “How many friends did you bring with us today?” His matter-of-fact reply was, “26.” Wow, I thought, beginning to wonder how it might go if he insisted on getting Happy Meals for all 26. He must has sensed my concern because he quickly added, “Don’t worry Mom, they already ate.”
These are only a few of the moments that make the years of child rearing the best years of my life. For me there were countless memories of raising boys that make me laugh, and cry, and feel so much pride that I’m sure my heart will burst from my chest. I think of these precious memories often, but especially now, as I wait to hear the news of a new grandchild, likely to be born on the same day his or her dad was born. Though it’s been 32 years since he was born, my heart is no less full of love and excitement at remembering. And this year my heart overflows with love and hope for this new blessing who is sure to bring Asa his own precious moments of parenting that will be with him forever.
I wish you the happiest of birthdays Asa and baby Smedley, and much joy as you embark on this new adventure together!