Two weeks ago, my little boy turned three. And I've been wanting to write something to mark the occasion, but I just couldn't figure out what to say.
The milestones: He was potty-trained by two and a half, and he self-weaned from the bottle shortly thereafter. He speaks fluent Tagalog, and has a thick Filipino accent when he tries to speak English ("One, two, three, pour, payb"). I think it's some sort of cosmic joke that I have a son who says things like "iskol bus" (school bus) and "kohkies" (cookies). He says the funniest things, and I have a collection of much-Liked Facebook posts to prove it. He eats like a champ--the first thing he does when we get home is open the fridge to see what he can munch on. And while he does love ice cream and chicharon, he will sometimes ask for vegetables for breakfast (!). He throws a tantrum like a pro, but also knows how to go up to the people he hurt and say sorry once he's calmed down. He loves to pretend to cook, and also helps me bake. He has blue-collar aspirations, pretending to be a taho vendor one day and a bote-dyaryo buyer on another. He's obsessed with construction vehicles (especially backhoes) and security barriers (which he calls "up and down")--it was a dream come true for him when a security guard let him assist with raising and lowering a barrier.
And while it's easy to describe those things, I can't put into words just how overwhelmed I am when I look at this boy, my boy. How my heart breaks when I watch him play because I wonder just how many more times I'll be able to watch him like that, content in his own little world where his imagination rules--no barkada, no crushes, none of the emo-ness of adolescence. How he infuriates me with his stubbornness, and yet I wouldn't trade this spirited, strong-willed kid for anything in the world. How he makes my heart swell so much when he smothers my face with kisses that it feels impossible, impossible to hold all the love I have for this little man.
In the morning, one of the first things he asks me, with a hopeful look in his eye, is "Mommy, hindi ka aalis?" ("Mommy, you're not leaving are you?") He just wants to be with Mommy, so much so that I sometimes can't even go to the bathroom without an audience. And it makes me a little bit sad when I have to tell him that I have to go to work, or that I have to run some errands--but I'll be back, I say, Mommy will always be back.
And sometimes, I want to ask my little boy the same question, "Hindi ka aalis?" Because part of me wishes he could be like this forever, that he didn't have to grow up and eventually go out on his own. But I understand that that's how things work, that's how things are supposed to be. I just wish with all my heart that when he's all grown up, he'll also feel like he has a compelling reason to go back, to always go back home.