Boys & simple delights / by Christina Rosalie

willow3 I always pictured this, and yet I could never have imagined how it really is: life with boys. My house is always a ruckus. Things are always flung, spun, twirled, jabbed. Sticks are essential. So are rocks. Forts are made everywhere. The couch is a launch pad. Trees are dangled from. Boxes are magic. They become boats and cars and rocket ships; they are played in and fought over and sawed into with serrated knives.

Each morning I wake up to the full catastrophe delight of little boy energy. Inevitably I get a finger in an eyeball, or an elbow to the ribcage. “Mommy! MOMMY LOOOK!” But by the time I do, Bean has already dragged a giggling Sprout out of my room, down the hall and into his bedroom, where I can hear thumping and banging and more laughter.

Bean is growing tall. He grew 3/4ths of an inch in the past month! Sprout is standing on his own, cruising everywhere, cutting teeth. He is hilarious. He does things purposefully just to make us laugh. He loves to bang on things: pots, cupboards, boxes. He loves music. He loves his big brother, and he beams whenever Bean enters the room. But he’s also a tattle tale—already. He makes this particular fussy sound whenever Bean takes something from him, or even just gets close enough that he might take something from him. He is absolutely, one-hundred-percent a Mama’s boy.

My sweet second son. We’re so smitten for each other, and truthfully, every single day I still kind of wish he’d stay small for a lot longer. I love to snuggle with him. I love the sleepy moments just before I tuck him into his bed at night. I love when he first sees me after I’ve been gone for the morning. I love how he gets such a kick out of everything: standing, eating, sticking his hands in the dirt.

That said, I’m much less of a wimp with him. I want him to sleep through the night now. He’s huge (really: as in, 18-24 month clothing is snug on him. SNUG.) and he has no reason to wake up four times just to tap into a boob for five minutes, although I can’t blame him for trying. It must be nice, little man. Sorry to cut you off. So last night there was more fussing and less sleep as he adjusts to going back to sleep himself. He was indignant at first, but a trooper, and figured out how to find his pacifier & snuggle in and go back to sleep after a couple minutes of fussing. And already it was easier than the night before. By the end of the week I think we’ll be where I want us to be (as in, one or both of us will be getting five or six hours of sleep at a go!)

Aside from the whole sleep deprivation bit, which gets old, I admit, I’ve been having so much fun this month with my boys. All three of them. And even though money is tighter than it’s ever been, it is quite possible that I’m enjoying the holiday season more than I have in years past because it’s been all us, as a unit. Without the pressure to buy things—the holidays become all about shared activity, small rituals, adventures, crafts, and food.

We’ve already made a batch of gingerbread cookie dough; strung oodles of lights; and cut more than our share of snowflakes. Bean loves to do paper crafts. He memorizes the folds easily and delights with cutting each snowflake and then opening it up—each one a glorious surprise of symmetry and pattern. Sprout watches, delighted, trying to eat every paper scrap that falls to the floor.

Each morning we all look forward to the excitement of Bean scurrying out to see what the advent fairy has tucked into a little box for him: a tiny slinky, some balloons, a golden chocolate coin, a small crystal, silly putty, umbrella straws. It’s a lesson for all of us to remember: how much delight comes not from the actual gift, but from the suspense and mystery of each small box. It’s all about the ritual, the gesture of fun, and the small delightful moment of surprise. What are some things you do as a family together this time of year?