G turned four and suddenly the edges of his cheekbones stood out prominently. His baby cheeks seemed to melt away overnight. The strong lines of his face speak strikingly to his Mama’s. The dimples dance on each of their faces in the same spot.
The confident edges of their faces come from my love’s mom’s side of the family. Their noses come from her dad’s side. I see her family played out across his charming smile.
I would be jealous, a bit, maybe, except they both turn my heart to a puddle. I would almost be sad that I don’t see my mom’s smile on his face, my dad’s blond highlights in his curls.
A co-worker once told me: “Humans evolved so that babies looked more like their father when they are first born. That way the father knows that the baby is his and he doesn’t eat the baby.” I blinked. “I didn’t eat G,” I replied, “and he doesn’t look like me at all!”
He has never looked like me, but from early on I have known that he is my child. At eight months he rode in the front carrier, his tiny self leaning in against my heartbeat. All spring we took daily walks, each day stopping under the branches of the crab apple trees. We watched the buds begin to form, to grow, to burst forth in their delicate flowers. Each day he kicked his legs as we got near the trees, then stared up at them grinning with eyes aglow.
He watched me dance when he was just learning to take tentative steps. He reached his arms up to be held and spun in the dance.
At two he would take things out of one bag and redistribute them into another. Over and over he sorted the world around him. He seemed to seek an order to the potential chaos.
Now at four he just cracks me up. “Baba,” he insisted out of the blue one day, “we have to put the shoes in order.” For fifteen minutes he hung out in the hallway by himself, sorting our plethora of shoes into piles: his, Mama’s, mine. Then from there into pairs, and from pairs into sequence. My heart leaped with joy. When my love came home that night, she implored: “This is craziness. We are never going to keep these in order. We have too many things to bring in and set down when we come in to make sure our shoes go in order.”
G wouldn’t hear of it, though. Like a champ he enforced his “every shoe has its home” policy. “Mama, yours go here. Baba, remember your shoes.” He kept it up for about a week, until his attention was distracted by the next shiny thing.
He is, surely, my child.
My love is outnumbered by us every time she turns around. If she does the laundry, I anxiously buzz around it until she says “unless you want to fold it,” knowing that I do. I desperately do. Because the towels have to be folded and set in the linen closet so the folds show on the outer edge and the top seam faces the wall. My love could not care less. She legitimately has more important things on her mind.
“Mama, come see!” G called after an extended period of silence in his room last Saturday. She returned with laughter shining in her eyes and showed me the towel he had folded, perfectly, on his own.
(My love read this, laughing, and said: “I wish I could convey enough how similar you two are. I say ‘two peas in a pod,’ but that doesn’t even get at it. You have this way of carefully folding something. Anything else you might be doing or anything else happening in the world around you be damned. This thing, you think, this folded towel is perfect.”)