On this night, I giggled when I went in to turn out the lights. Ethan lay sound asleep near his book, his face smack on top of two Star Wars action figures. Assuming, as mothers do, that they must be hurting him (all evidence to the contrary... but this is what we do as moms; we feel cold, they must wear a jacket!), I slid them out from under his cheek.
There he was, my first baby, the child who turned me into a mother, so big now, asleep with his toys. As each year passes I hold on to his childhood in my heart, lamenting the time that will come all too soon when he no longer wants Legos and Storm Troopers for Christmas. He is holding on, too. As of last Christmas, he was still insistent that we keep the fireplace clear as a burn-free landing pad for Santa (though I am pretty sure he has not believed in the bearded-one in a year or two). He wants to be cool and grown up, and he wants to stay a little boy at the same time.
Having worked in special education back in my single days, I have known children who never grew up, and certainly I don’t want that for him. But oh, how I wish he would slow down. There is so much ahead of us. The uncertainty of who he will become, of mistakes he might make, of hurts he will certainly feel, sometimes overwhelms me. I wish I could keep him small and safe forever, but I know I can't.
Thank heaven, at least for now, he still plays with (and sleeps on) action figures.