the number forty

Dear Ethan,

Today, I thought I’d tell you more about you and less about me. 

You are sweet and silly and always have something to say. You exclaim, “favorite part!” after particularly exciting excursions, and have me and dad tell you what we loved most. You’ve helped me appreciate the spaces in between those small moments, especially as they pertain to your love and joy. Most people who meet you are struck by your happiness. I find this purity precious and worth protecting. 

Forty is the largest number in the world. Minutes, dollars, miles–I wonder what you’ll think when I turn forty. You think TJ Maxx is pronounced PJ Masks and that escalators are excavators and that your nightlight, a glowing orb that bubbles, is the secret sauce to a great night’s sleep.

Each morning when you wake up you say, “It was just a dream!” and repeat that over and over. Eventually, you rouse me from sleep by batting at my eyelashes. You are embodying your alter ego, PJ the cat, who likes to wear oversized boots on his front paws and drink milk out of a bowl and cause general mischief. Your favorite meal in the world is sour patch kid popsicles with a side of crescent roll (hmmmmm…). No matter where we are–home, restaurant, grampy’s boat–somehow your little hand will end up on my knee and helpfully squish in ladybugs and worms and dirt and dismembered legos which will be demanded at the least convenient time. I have a mental map of the house and where certain toys have ended up, such as Donatello’s head. 

You don’t like for me to talk to dad. Two seconds later you’re in my lap with your arms around my neck and your big eyes staring into mine. 

“See me,” you say telepathically. 

And I do. In fact, much of the time you’re all that I see. 

“Use your words,” you tell me, as you sense me drifting into daydreams of the flat plains of Texas and people and spaces I have loved. 

In our house, “hate” is a bad word. You are very helpful in pointing out anytime you hear one and covering your ears right after. These days, I have more restraint. I have less hate for jeans that don’t fit and grey hair that keeps on coming.

You are very honest. You hoard quarters. You always can be convinced to sit in a car and while away the six hours to New Jersey to see Grammy. These days, you pull me into dance in the kitchen, and I have no idea where you learned your spinning top move or your head bops. 

Your body is light as air–an unanchored balloon that dives in headfirst into things that terrify me, disregarding guardrails and curbs and intersections. You walk uneven paths, brain filled with the beauty and wonder of the world around you. You see much more than I do. 


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