Toby hasn’t lost his first baby tooth yet, but sometime in the last month, he lost his last baby word. I don’t even know exactly when it happened, but one day while I was making his peanut butter and honey sandwich and he was telling me a story about school, he properly used the word ‘went’. Just used it as naturally as he rides a bike, or slides on his shoes, or kicks a goal: with no effort at all. See, he used to say ‘go’ed’. And we’d say–every time–‘you mean you went,‘ just casually, hoping to slowly and gently correct his grammar. And now I’m wondering, why did we do that? Because wouldn’t you know it, it worked.
And now ‘go’ed’ is gone forever.
I recently read a wonderful list on Bad Mommy Moments (originally on Lost in Suburban Bliss) of things she misses from her children’s early years. It made me nostalgic, of course, but generally speaking, I don’t miss these things. Day to day, I’m the mom who’s eager for her children to get older, to get taller and bigger and stronger and able to join in on the outing, the sport, the joke. I’m all about forward momentum, milestones, and the next adventure. I’m the one correcting the ‘go’ed’.
And I regret that today, because youngest children are already on the fast-track. They’re the kids pushed the most to keep up (or more likely, catch up), to try before they’re ready, to jump the gun. Movies you didn’t allow your oldest child to watch at age six are suddenly approved for all audiences because the majority rules. Sport programs you wouldn’t consider for a kindergartner are now on the schedule because everyone else is going to the fields Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and it’s just easier. Bedtime decisions seem to defer to the oldest, not the youngest, because there’s homework to be done (not by the youngest) and practice to attend (not by the youngest) andyou’re busy and you’re tired (more so than with your oldest).
Toby has a Nintendo DS. He got it for Christmas right after he turned five. And I know many five-year-olds have similar toys, but we never would have deemed such an expensive electronic device appropriate for our other kids at that age. However, everyone else was getting one, and we knew he’d feel left out if he didn’t receive one as well. And you know what our constant manta has been for the last year, every time we get ready to go anywhere? “Toby, where’s your DS? Well, where did you see it last? Has anyone else seen it? Where is your case? Where are your games? Where, Toby, where?!”
Because he’s too young to take responsibility for it. And we gave it to him anyway. Just like we gave him a trip to Disney World when he was two and can’t remember it (because the other boys were the perfect ages) and just like we put him on skis when he was three, because we were spending every Saturday on the mountain anyway. And the sweetest, saddest part is: he takes it in stride. He wears it so well. He is, in every sense of the word, game.
He takes risks. He leaps when he may well slip. He sets his sights high and reaches. On a daily basis, he squares his shoulders and measures himself up against older kids. And he’s so used to falling short, he’s immune to the fear of failure. (Although certainly not to failure itself.) As a result, he’s developed this tough outer shell that seems to say, ‘Go ahead and place me dead last of three…again. I can take it. And then I’ll tell you to take it and shove it, and try to beat them all again tomorrow.’
It makes me kind of wish I were a third-born, too.