“How old is he?”
The woman at the booth across from us has smooth blonde hair in a pageboy cut, a green anorak and an ambitious lipstick shade.
“He’s 19 months,” I say, rubbing a piece of food off the bow lips of my baby boy,”A year and a half.”
“There’s a big age difference between my boys too,” she says, gesturing toward Nolan,”Five years. Big surprise for us!”
I chuckle too, and refrain from offering additional information. My second son is spiral curls, gleeful eyes, and a Jack Nicholson grin. He is short legs and long arms and tenacious determination wrapped up in a shockingly endearing package. He is nothing like I expected he would be. It’s impossible to believe that he could be anything other than what he is.
When Nolan was small, I accepted congratulations on his temperment.
“He’s such a nice boy.”
“Such a sweet disposition.”
“You are doing something very right.
“Thank you,”I’d say,” Thanks very much. I sure hope so.”
I knew Nolan’s personality was formed by a power much greater than me, and that his disposition was a combination of environmental and inherent factors. But I also took a little secret credit: maybe Nolan’s sweetness came from empathy I demonstrated. Perhaps our closeness and inseparability had something to do with his ability to love everyone with clear-eyed willingness. He slept through the night because I worked hard to train him. He ate every kind of food because I fed him spicy Indian food as a baby, Thai noodle soup as a toddler.
I had nothing to do with any of it.
Jude came out of my womb and grabbed my face, staring intently and calmly in my eyes. There’s never been any doubt about his force of will, even as a tiny infant. He can scream for hours, he eats only bread and specific fruit, he permits hand holding only under extreme circumstance.
He speaks his own distinctive, unintelligible language and his laughter is the most contagiously ecstatic sound I’ve ever heard. He bellows when you try to kiss him too much and he is as grumpy as an 82 year old man when he wakes up in the morning. His temperament is completely outside my comfort zone, and I am 100% convinced he will either effectively rule the world or destroy us all. He looks exactly like Corey, except when he runs like a shot wild rabbit, in which case he looks like his Mama.
None of us can imagine what life was like before him. None of us can imagine what our lives will be like when he actually reaches his “terrible twos.”
He is wild. Obstinate and tenacious and focused and hilarious and I think back to the days when we were contemplating adding another human being to our small, still fragile unit.
It’s incredible that he was just a possibility, not even two years ago.