I knew something was up for a good week or two, the way he was pulling close and then pushing away and then pulling close again only to rip himself away the next minute. He was declaring himself a baby and a big boy in the same sentences and wearing his underwear with pride, but resorting to baby talk when he was tired (and Zeke didn't even use much baby talk as a baby). But it wasn't until the eve of Zeke's big 3rd birthday, when he broke down in tears and wailed that he was not only not ready to be three but willing to send away all his friends AND presents the next day in order to stop it that I realized that the momentous event was throwing my small son into his first existential crisis.
Having had a bit of a taste for an existential crises ever now and again myself in my day, I was actually somewhat prepared for this- but not at the age of three. I can't hand him a copy of The Brother Karamazov and I cant debate either Kierkegaard or Nietzsche with him. I'm lost.
So instead we just do a lot of cuddling while I watch a still very very small boy figure out how he fits into this world and this family, who he is and who we are and if that is good or bad and what good and bad are. It's hard.
He couches it in the words and terms that he has and talks all day about bad guys and good guys and heroes and villains and he longs for it to be black and white. He's searching for some line to follow. But really its grey. All painfully and confusingly grey.
He told me today that he is a bad guy because when Malachi's chips were gone and his plate was still full he didn't share.
A hero would share, he told me with tears in his eyes.
And what am I supposed to do with this gentle soul?
He's barely grasping the seasons, yesterday he had to say "snowytime" 3 times before I understood that he meant summertime. Yes, its summertime. How am I supposed to convey all the intricacies of right and wrong when I'm so woefully confused myself? He is searching for how to be a man, and I am painfully aware that I am a woman- and don't tell me there is no difference because there is.
And I thank God that at least I know something. Some small thing to offer my son, although it's really the biggest thing, the only Truth I've ever found. Grace.
And forgiveness and love and mercy. To us and from us and sometimes you just have to hang on to that, son. Lord knows sometimes it's all I'm hanging onto.