April 5, 2011

No Longer Babies

I remember when my BFF's twins turned four. They had a party at Pump-It-Up, and Moe had just finally started to walk. The pictures from that party are always shocking to me. There's one where Moe is pointing right at the camera. He's interacting with other kids. I used to look to those pictures as "proof" that he couldn't have autism. Now I look back at them as the turning point.

The birthday boys' grandmother, who I've now known for (gasp!) 20 years marveled at how big her grandsons had gotten, and how they really weren't babies anymore. They could dress themselves and were becoming self-sufficient. These kids, born premature and with speech delays of their own, were racing away from toddler-hood and barreling headlong toward becoming big kids.

Last weekend, we took Moe to a birthday party. Moe's playgroup friends, now just the kids of my "mom friends" since Moe hasn't participated in the playgroup in almost two years, are starting to turn four. I wasn't sure about going, but I really like this family and decided to try. It was in a park, so it didn't seem like it would be a big deal if Moe did his own thing.

As it turned out, Moe's "thing" was to run around and try to steal food, especially doughnuts, off of other peoples' plates. It was cute and we laughed it off, everyone understanding, joking about Moe's infamous love of cake. And yes, it was cute. It was funny. But it was also exhausting and frustrating, embarrassing and depressing.

As I looked around at the birthday boy and his friends, riding bikes and scooters, playing soccer and hockey and baseball, I saw a lot of children who were, indeed, no longer babies. All except for one, my child, who is still very much a baby. And though we parents often lament at how fast our kids are growing up, how we wish they could stay babies just a little bit longer, this is not what we really want.

Of course, Moe still doesn't understand any of this. He just really wanted a doughnut.

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