My son turned five a little over a week ago, and I’m still reeling a bit. How can I have a five-year-old? Me? I’m still under the impression I can pass for twenty-one.
But some interesting things have been happening since The Big Five birthday. I am noticing that five isn’t just a number; it’s a state of mind. My son is acting like a mature little boy, a tried-and-true five-year-old.
Here’s what it means to be five.
A five-year-old walks down from his bedroom in the morning and quietly helps himself to a donut. He doesn’t confess unless his mother asks him about the crumbs.
A five-year-old stares proudly from his new booster seat and kisses his five-point-harness goodbye. (This was very hard for his mother, who didn’t realize she’d get so attached to a carseat.)
A five-year-old wants to play with his toys, his indescribably tiny Lego toys, rather than watch baby shows like Dora the Explorer.
A five-year-old plays game after game of Temple Run and gets even better than his father.
A five-year-old executes his own version of freeze-dance. “The only thing you’re allowed to do is breathe and blink.”
A five-year-old tells you, unprompted, that he had a good time at his friend’s.
A five-year-old can cross the street without you, as long as you’re watching from the sidewalk.
A five-year-old gets his sister and himself an organic milk box at Starbucks and leads them both to a high-top chair and inserts straws for the both of them. (His mother, at the counter, only purchases one milk, and when she turns around and sees them both sipping from individual milk boxes, she figures Starbucks owes it to her.)
A five-year-old says, “We have to take down our Easter stuff,” and later, helps his mother pick out flowers to plant around the house. (And a five-year-old also bails out on their planting date and goes across the street to play Ninjago. But you can’t blame him.)
A five-year-old shows you things in a picture book you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.
A five-year-old does a special dance in Panera to make you laugh, because he is five now, and confident, and always surrounded by superhero action figures for support.
There were days in my son’s infancy and toddlerhood that I thought would never end, and now the days are going so very fast. I can’t get out of my head a quote by Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, which I have heard so often in the past two years that it’s become somewhat of a cliche: “The days are long, but the years are short.” Birthdays have a way of reminding you of this.
That’s what a thirty-two-year-old does, mother of a five-year-old. She comforts herself with cliche phrases and gets teary-eyed thinking about carseats and old photographs, and nearly breaks down when she sees sentimental videos about children with pianos playing in the background.