As a Valentine’s Day gift to my husband, who came home early from work, I took M to the thrift store so James could have a bit of time to himself to decompress.
We came home from the thrift store with 11 new books for the boy. One was a replacement, two were Curious George tales, there was another about being the president, a few others, and one called On the Day You Were Born.
This is a beautiful book about different aspects of the whole earth where we live. It talks about the animals, gravity, the sun, moon, stars, tides, trees and air. It ends on an uplifting note with the new baby encircled by the love of his family, who hold him close and tell him, “We’re so glad you’ve come.” I thought that my son, who has been talking a lot about being a baby and born, would enjoy it. Especially since it’s written to make the child feel personally addressed. And my boy loves books about him.
So we got home and started reading through the pile of books. We read this one, and he was so happy, pointing to the silhouette figure, saying, “That’s me in the night,” or pointing out the color of the figure, “Now I’m orange,” etc.
Then we ate dinner, and while James was clearing some of the dishes and I was finishing the last of my rice, he asked to read the “when I was born” book again, and we told him we would as soon as we were done. A few minutes later, he came over to where I was sitting with those big eyes and trembling lip and said, “I’m starting to cry up.” He curled up on my lap and just broke down.
We thought that he was upset because he wanted to read the book again and we weren’t doing it right away for him. So James read it to him again as I finished up in the kitchen.
We were getting ready for bed, and he was looking at the book again. He was talking about it and still seemed somewhat weepy. I tried to figure out what was bothering him about it, but he either didn’t know or couldn’t articulate beyond something about the night and the beginning.
We read the book again before lights out. He refused to pick a different one. We talked a bit about the night and how happy I was that he was born. He wanted me to hold him close, and he needed to cry some more.
We’re not sure if there was something beyond the book that was bothering him and maybe the images of night and the solitary figure throughout the pages brought it to the surface, or if he’s really just that affected by creative works (in the past, it’s been certain songs that make him cry).
It must be tough to be three. He feels things so deeply, and sometimes, if you ask what’s wrong or what happened, he’ll tell you, “I can’t say.” And I think he really can’t. Because he doesn’t quite understand it himself. So I hold him close, and I tell him that he can always say anything to his mommy, even if he doesn’t quite know how. I tell him I am so happy that he’s here, mine, ours. And I hope he feels happier tomorrow.