letting them be little

We keep a growth chart on Ethan's bedroom wall. Truthfully, I wish we started earlier but I figure I can always manually add in the heights based on the doctor records that I've kept over the years. Once a month, I take a Sharpie and add a little line (plus the date) so he can see how much he's grown. The leap from May to July has been substantial, which I have to say I've noticed just observing him in every day life. Suddenly his shorts have all become short-shorts and his shirts expose his belly and we've officially traded in the 5's for the 6's -- and even some 7's -- when it feels like I just adjusted to the 4/5's and having to shop in the big boys department in general. Ethan's no stranger to hearing how big he is, something that happens when you're twice the size of the other kids your age (and have a father who is 6'4") but lately he's had many questions about his height. There have been a couple of times when he's asked if he can stay a kid and stop getting bigger, or that he didn't want to grow up just yet.

Four has already been so different than three in many ways. There has been physical growth and emotional maturation as well. And there has also been this push from society to thrust him into adulthood now that he is four.

"Oh, he's adorable. How old is he?"
"He just turned 4."
"Oh, time for school! Is he ready for Kindergarten?"

I watched my child shyly follow around a six year old girl on a playground as a camp counselor asked me this. Too shy to ask her name, he pretended to fall down instead in hopes she would help him up. (She did.) As he ran around the playground with a new friend and no agenda to adhere to, no schedule to follow, no rules to worry about breaking, I failed to see how the answer wasn't so completely obvious. No, he wasn't ready for Kindergarten. He's a child. He's four years old.

I remind Ethan of this when he expresses his concerns about growing up and getting taller. "Mommy, am I still a kid? Am I still a kid even if I'm taller?"

This is when I tell him that his childhood is just beginning and that I'll never let anyone take it away from him. This is when the heat stops bothering me and I let these hot, sticky afternoons be just what they are: freedom, magic. Childhood.

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