It’s been five years, and yet I still look at my son and shake my head in wonder. I can never forget, or even grow complacent, about how fortunate I am to have him.
He exists not because he was planned, but out of sheer chance. I don’t gamble or play the lottery; I don’t need to. I already had my bolt of lightning strike and won the biggest jackpot ever.
He looks like his biggest sister, so much so that she used to look at pictures of herself, with Manhattan clearly visible in the background, and ask, “Is that Ollie?”
He talks like her too. I’ve been watching old videos of them from around the time of his birth, and the resemblance is striking. If anything, his monologues and negotiations might surpass hers.
But he acts like his middle sister. The reports from pre-school, while often confounding to his teacher, make me nod and smile in recognition. His need for personal space and his clear sense of justice (and sometimes-outsized reactions when either one are violated) are just like hers and don’t always make for a smooth social experience. But then, like her, he has a strong sense of self and a take-me-or-leave-me outlook that has its advantages too.
He loves Lady Gaga, and he occasionally asks me to turn up the radio when he finds a song to his liking — AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Journey, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mumford and Sons. He admires how Eminem “rhymes words really easily.” He will sing the chorus of “Animal” like it’s a broken record, preferably in the women’s locker room at the rec center, where the tile walls and floors provide excellent acoustics. He finally understands that it’s by Neon Trees, not Justin Bieber (as one sweet old lady had convinced him).
I know that every kid says funny stuff — all of my kids have — but there’s something about hearing it from a boy who was just the moment before careening a toy car across the coffee table and into the wall, or flinging a LEGO creation onto the tile floor where it shatters as part of his latest pretend-play script. Then he bends over to pat the cat and leaps back, gasping that “I saw his vampire teef!”
All three of my children are exuberantly, unapologetically, and publicly affectionate, but again, there’s something about lengthy declarations of love and superlative mommy-ness from a rough and tumble boy whose hugs verge on being injurious. I currently bear a scab on my nose from being slashed by Oliver’s fingernail in his sleep, because falling asleep next to Mommy is a prized privilege.
And just like his thoroughly unexpected, but so very welcome, entrance into this world, he continues to surprise and delight me every day in ways I could never have anticipated.