The other day I told Orlando to stop acting like a two-year-old.
I heard the words come flying out of my mouth — in frustration, out of mis-expectation, and in the end, weighted with meaninglessness. As if I could sprinkle magic maturity dust upon him, as if I wanted to.
Later I had the idea to give myself some homework. I decided to watch home videos of him when he was two years old.
I woke up early and turned on the computer. I was inundated with hundreds — thousands! — of photos, of both kids, back from ancient times. I was laughing and crying, and Rom, who was trying to get some work done, came over and joined in.
Turns out (no surprise!) that Orlando wasn’t acting like a two-year-old, because a two-year-old is a tiny baby. So little and talking all mish-mouthy with a squeaky voice. Two years old is a different animal, rounder and softer, so directly imitating me and his Papa, talking in two-word sentences and pointing a lot, with very big eyes.
And it turns out that Orlando has really only been ever “acting” one way: himself. My god, it was amazing to watch a video of a child at two, and then be downstairs at the kitchen counter and have the same child, seven years later, walk in and say the exact words I watched him say onscreen only moments ago!
And then to carry that holographic image of the two-year-old all day, to see the chub of his cheeks around those now-big teeth, to hear his floppy feet slapping the floor amidst the assured, smooth gait.
To remember, once again, how these kids are somehow always whole and wholly themselves while constantly forming and maturing and changing. And to remember how much we laughed — oh, the antics!! Tying every scarf in the house around their bodies, eating ice cream while simultaneously signing “more! more! more!”, how every word out of their mouths was a gift wrapped in crooked paper with a hundred pieces of tape — incredibly endearing and so, so sticky.
It’s such a cliché, isn’t it? To not make them grow up too fast, to stay alive to the people they are and to do our very best to honor them and nurture them, and to never forget to laugh, and to be kind.
Well, I’ll take it. I’ll take the tape-covered gift, hold it in my hands, and I won’t get stuck. I’ll unwrap it slowly, and we’ll keep moving along, continually making way for our always-selves.