Suddenly there is this BOY living in my house. At school, he travels in a pack of his peers, playing games of their own invention. He mimics their speech and believes the wisdom of their older siblings. At home, he is an expert on everything, passing on information gleaned from his teachers and peers to his woefully uninformed parents.
He is becoming more private with his thoughts, more evasive of questions, and sometimes seems to tell me what he thinks I want to hear instead of what is actually happening inside his head.
He is turning outward, creating his own sense of identity, one that may someday only involve us in a peripheral way. I'm not quite sure yet how to relate to this boy. He's starting to read to himself a little, and I see the end of our days of curling up with picture books. He's interested in older toys, and I find myself in unfamiliar aisles of stores, uncertain who this person is for whom I'm shopping. It is at once terribly sad and lonely, and wonderfully exciting and, well, normal.
But, almost as if to toss his poor mom a bone, he has started touching base more frequently. He has created a code: one of us gives the ASL sign for "I love you" and the other signs "I love you, too." So this boy, who is suddenly too big for me to pick up, and almost too big to want my help or comfort, lets me know that he's still my baby. I tell him that I hope when he's grown, that we'll be good friends. He says he thinks we will be, and tells me that I'm invited to come to his house for dinner.