It's the only time you slow down long enough for me to hold you really, when you go to bed and we do a night--night song, how I tickle your back so buttery it slices me into pieces. (For the longest time it was Powder Blue every night. You knew the words by heart and would sing with me as we lay together face to face, go to sleep my baby, sleep now little you...)
You are 5 now, a number that signifies, among other things, that I will no longer wipe your butt. This is the deal we had, and you are solemn about deals, how you shrug your shoulders and cock your head as if to say, it is done, yes? Yes. I hope I remember this, how you like to do pretend homework each night, pretend only because no one has assigned it but you. Kite does not start with C, you say, with that same shrug, because it, too is done, so you do not circle kite with your crayon.
Every day you play with ok. Is this? What about this? And because I am tired and you are always moving the answer is mostly no. No, that is not ok, how I absentmindedly say no and then catch myself sometimes. I mean yes, yes of course you can [insert totally acceptable something here]. But you cannot climb to the top of the batting cage and we cannot go to the zoo and you cannot eat a fourth cookie while running with a sharp colored pencil and a glass full of watered down grape juice. I watch my words from a long way off, from 10 years off, 15 maybe, and I cannot breathe because you fill everything, spill over, and so I tell the world to slow down. Stop. Breathe. We are just going to bed and we just have this night, what song do you want? Lately it has been Beautiful Boy, the Ben Harper version. Still, we lay face to face and sing it together, Close your eyes, have no fear, the monster's gone, he's on the run and your daddy's here. Only I say mommy, and when you look at me funny because that is not how it goes I shrug my shoulders as if to say it is done, yes? You're my beautiful beautiful beautiful beautiful boy...
Happy birthday, sweet Oz. My wish for you is that for the rest of your life, whenever you need it, you can pull up this memory of me singing this song to you and tickling your back, our faces just inches away.