Dear Bean, I come home after being away from you for hours, and gather you up into my arms. Your hair smells like wild grasses and sun. Your feet are bare; knees scuffed from climbing rocks and logs. On your collar, the crumbs from the small lemon vanilla cookies you ate by the fistful. Daddy tells me you finished the entire box on your way home from the grocery store, and you look pleased.
This is what you are like now: always hungryâ€”devouring two eggs and toast at one setting for breakfast, and then coming back for melon and yogurt a little later on. We get glimpses of the future you: a lanky teenager, eating the refrigerator empty in one go. And like that boy youâ€™ll be, youâ€™re skinny now too. All lean muscle, with a little round belly leading the way.
I skipped last monthâ€™s letter, and in the turning of that calendar page, you were weaned and never looked back. I canâ€™t believe it was only two months since stopped nursing. I can hardly remember the way you were then, still linked to me by those moments of sustenance, because the you of this moment occupies my mind so boldly. You are a whirlwind of running feet; a sky full of wild grins, a pocket full of mischief.
You are becoming yourself every single day, and watching you I long for that kind dynamic growth: to wake up each day open to learning things abundantly.
Every morning you are fresh to plunge in again. Always, you want to name your world. You open your eyes, then point. Door, window, kitty, Daddy, water, Mama. I hardly can imagine what it must be like to jump like that; to submerge oneself into the rich variety of experience, from the moment of waking, onwards.
My first thoughts rarely have to do with embracing the day. For me, itâ€™s more about prolonging sleep, then coffee, then a list of obligations. Itâ€™s as though because I am â€˜grown upâ€™ Iâ€™ve come to think I know the world, and have as a result, stopped loving it as much as you do. Iâ€™ve let cynicism creep in, and it fills the small chinks between wonder and exhaustion in my mind.
Being with you, Iâ€™m learning how to dive back in; to feel wholly, to awaken to the bright fullness of the moment. When we walk down the road to get the mail, I stop expecting to actually get the mail. I stop expecting anything at all, and simply follow as you lead.
We go through tall grass to a big rock. You climb itâ€™s sloping side, and when youâ€™re at the top you lie on your belly. We are eye level now, and for a minute we stay this way, grinning at each other, feeling the warmth that the rock has absorbed from the sun. Then you swing your body around and climb feet first down the sheer side; your toes finding small foot holds.
You grin when you land on the grass again with a small thud. Then you run back around, ready to climb again. Once is not enough. Twice is not enough. Each time you climb and slide, you soak up the experience anew with pure exuberance. Each time you come to the experience with an open heart, expecting only joy.
I breathe in deeply, and feel the heat rising through my palms resting on the rockâ€™s smooth surface. Above us, the sky is flecked with small clouds, and the field sings with a million insects.
Summer is coming to an end, and itâ€™s as if they know it: their treble song is louder now, merging at dusk with the staccato of the night creatures. At the edge of the field woods behind us, a few branches on a one maple tree have turned vermillion, like a single chili pepper in a vast green bowl. On the hilltops across the valley, the evening light is falling rosy on the trees.
Youâ€™ve had enough of the rock now and want me to put you up on my shoulders. When I do, you grab my cheeks and laugh. I bring your toes to my lips and kiss them, and they smell like sweet clover, and are stained green.
If you were going to daycare this fall, my heart Iâ€™m sure, would be shattering into a thousand small pieces. But instead, you will be with your Gran, who has moved down the road, and so Iâ€™m looking forward to having a new routine, to being newly challenged by work, and to the time away from you. These moments with you then, are all the sweeter. Scooping you up after hours apart, I want to drink you up.
Your Gran is always bringing us small treasures: fresh eggs from the farm where she pulls weeds; amethyst crystals; bright zinnias. And itâ€™s been nice to have her hereâ€”nice for us to grow into a new relationship, to see each other differently, and perhaps more accurately, as we are. Someday maybe youâ€™ll understand this. Someday, impossibly, youâ€™ll grow up and want to be wholly separate from me.
But for now, weâ€™re both content to be thisclose. Your nose pressed against mine, your arms wrapped around my neck.