When kids are little, gender is not much of a thing. It can be almost impossible to tell whether a baby is a boy or a girl, a lot of their toys can be for either gender, and at young ages their activities can be pretty similar. They all cry, they all poop, they all like to shake rattles and eat.
But Alex has been a boy for a while now.
Sometimes he greatly enjoys the “girly” toys. He loves the baby dolls at the toy library because he can point at them and call them “baby.” Sometimes? He picks them up and gives them a hug. But after he hugs the baby doll, he is going to throw that thing as far and as hard as he possibly can. Or bang it again and again on a hard surface. Or try to tear it apart.
After his destruction of the baby doll, he may enjoy pushing around the super pink baby doll stroller. He loves that thing. But after he has pushed it for a bit, he decides that it is the perfect storage space. He piles everything he can find into it. And then he tries to pick the whole thing up and carry it around the room, piling it on top of something else.
When we are at home, sometimes he is very sweet and cuddly with me. He will run over from whatever he is doing just to get a kiss. On the rare occasion that he is like this I cherish it. He puts his head on my chest, says, “mama” in his very sweet high pitched voice, asks for kisses, and gives me a nice pat. But then he makes sure that I know that he is big and strong, a boy through and through, and he hits me. Or bites me. Or growls. Or runs away and starts saying “vroom!” again and again while he plays with his trucks and cars.
So, maybe I should train Alex to growl when someone mistakes him for a girl when we are out. Or maybe I should just get his hair cut again.
Alex and I had an absolutely wonderful day on Wednesday. Aside from the early morning shock of finding out that he has the ability to climb out of his playpen, the day couldn’t have gone better.
We went back to the Pittsburgh Toy Lending Library after lunch, where Alex was able to run around, climb on everything, and, as he is prone to do, choose a favorite toy that is not really a toy. His favorite toy that day? A child-sized broom. He loved that thing. We probably walked around the whole place a dozen times while he pushed the broom into every corner and made sure that every. single. person saw him with it.
When the time came to leave, I decided that with the amazing mood that Alex was in I would use that time to continue my search for the perfect brown boot.
We went to the mall (the mall that Burgh Baby suggested because of its young-toddler appropriate play area), which is becoming an increasingly regular occurrence for us during this bitter weather. I didn’t find boots, but Alex enjoyed the play area tremendously. He climbed, slid, ran, jumped, and banged like a mad man.
As we were getting ready to leave, we took a quick break to eat a snack in one of the lounge areas in the middle of the mall. There were mostly elderly men sitting there, but there was one woman who I felt staring at us as we sat down and I started giving Alex his crackers.
“He is beautiful.”
I thanked her, and we chatted about how old he was, what I was doing with my time and how I liked being a mother. She was watching Alex the entire time. She eventually told me that Alex looked almost exactly like her grandson did as a baby. She said her grandson had the same hair and big blue eyes. Alex’s chubby cheeks were very similar, and she couldn’t believe how much it felt like she was looking right at her baby grandson.
Apparently, her grandson recently died. He was 26. He left behind a newborn daughter, wife, and four generations of family that can’t believe he is gone.
At the end of her explanation, she looked at Alex and told him that he was going to have a great life. She said anyone with cheeks like his is going to do great things. She thanked me for allowing her to sit with us for a while, and said that it was the best she has felt since she lost her grandson.
It is days like that when I am reminded how wonderful life is. How amazing Alex is. How lucky I am.
And she is right. With cheeks like his great things will surely come.