smudge brownie and speed lemons

Florida Grown Tee by The Blue Envelope

A few days ago now, Ethan's grandmother took him out for ice cream. As per usual, his eyes focused on the chocolatiest of chocolatey flavors sitting in one of the tubs behind the glass. "I want that one," he said. The ice cream parlor employee told him it was called fudge brownie and got busy scooping it into a cup for him (plus sprinkles, of course). "I loved the smudge brownie ice cream," he told me later. And then he told his father the same thing. For days, really, he's been declaring that smudge brownie is his favorite of all ice creams and foods and anything good in this world and I just haven't had the heart to correct him.

At nearly four, these silly little speech slip-ups rarely happen anymore. Ethan has surpassed the babbling stage, waved goodbye to the attempted speech struggles and landed himself contently in the world of Adult Speak. At almost four, he's made it quite known that the days of "but why?" are starting to trail off into the sunset as he replaces the questions with declarations of his knowledge. These days, we have actual conversations about real life things and, on the days when real life feels too boring, Ethan imagines a world more magical and intricate than the one we're living in. "No, mommy, that's not red. It's more of a maroon," he will say while creating art together and I will realize yet again that, yes, he is growing up. Life is both simpler and more complicated, if that makes sense.

And so, these slip ups? I cherish them. I hold them in my heart and feel myself giggling and melting inside from the cuteness, from the last signs of baby that are disappearing into the past. I probably don't correct them as quickly as I should. Is there really any harm from it being smudge brownie just a little bit longer? Just a teeny, tiny, itty-bitty bit longer?

"Mommy, you're driving too fast. I don't think you've been looking at the speed lemon sign," my favorite backseat driver piped up on a day when I was feeling particularly stressed. I had to bite my lip. "The what?" "The speed lemon sign, mommy. The one with the 3 and the 5. It tells you how fast you need to go and I think you're going a little faster than that." "I'm not, buddy. I'm going the right speed." "Just watch the speed lemon, mommy. Pay attention when you drive." These moments renew me a little bit.

Not long after he figured out that the Taking Back Sunday song isn't about water, water (Liar) and doesn't reference the boys feeling thirsty (just quiet, interesting and arrogant), he began focusing on lyrics. "But what does that mean, mommy? What does it mean to be interesting and arrogant?" Sometimes our conversations do feel particularly grown up. Sometimes we have to sit down and have serious talks and an unraveling of grown up feelings ("I think I'm feeling left out, mommy. It hurt my heart a little bit when that happened!"). And just as fast as he tells me "you don't have to worry, mommy. I'll be okay on the playground if you wait down there and watch," he starts singing along to Matt Skiba and the Sekrets incorrectly and "I'm in love with the voices in your hair" quickly becomes my new favorite line in my new favorite song.

And these moments, man, I hold them deep in my heart. Almost four has felt like the biggest transitional age so far. It has felt like the final crossover from baby to child. I am collecting what little pieces are last to leave while still so very much admiring the beautiful boy that my little baby has become.

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