Two helicopters. One flew out of Tristan's hands and ended up under the edge of the car seat where he couldn't reach it. Howls of protest flew through the air like a flush of bats waking up to feed.
One helicopter. Three propeller blades. It all added up to five.
"One two fwee foh five."
I tuned back in from my Happy Place where I had been ignoring the flapping bat howls.
"Fwee foh five."
Oh the singing joy in a mommy's heart when her little adorable angel child learns to count.
Cue harps. Cue Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Release doves. Cue big sunshine beam cutting through clouds. Hint of blue sky appears.
Like any devoted mother who has a loving and caring bond with her child, I felt compelled to engage in this moment. My child can COUNT!!!
So, I say, "One... two... three... four... five.... YAY TRISTAN!"
And he says, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! No Mommy!"
Cue big record needle scratching over Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
"No say that. Mommy."
"Oh, okay, sorry."
He continues, "One two fwee foh five sex seben eight nine ten leben twelb."
Wow. I can't help myself, so I add "thirteen fourteen..."
"NOOOOOOOOOOOO! Fohteen TWO. Mommy."
He goes back to counting to five with an occasional "fourteen two" thrown in at the end. When he reaches five I cheer for him. When he reaches ten I do another "yay Tristan!" Finally he can't stand it anymore and indicates I should cease and desist cheering. "No. Me!"
I try to take comfort in the fact that he's his own cheering section which is a great metaphor for life because sometimes as an adult YOU might be the only fan you have. But seriously, buddy, you're two. How much self-esteem can you pack into that little body of yours?
I purse my lips and keep driving. He counts some more, then cheers at the end. After the fourth or fifth time I ask, "Can I cheer now?"
When we got to daycare he flops his head over to the side, pretending to be asleep so I'd carry him in. Usually I just tickle him "awake" but today thought it would be funny for us to play a joke on the daycare lady. When she came over to take him he held out her arms and went to her right away. No protests, no calling out for me, no whining about me leaving him.
My littlest boy can count to twelve and doesn't mind leaving me to stay at the sitter's all day. A few days ago my oldest boy graduated from kindergarten, complete with cap, gown, pomp and circumstance. Apparently we're on an express lane to adulthood with no exits, no rest stops. Everyone warned me and I have been hearing it, but I think you don't really get it until you have a day like this in which a simple thing like counting is suddenly private.
I'll wake up tomorrow and it will be time for driving tests and prom, secret smokes and girlie pictures hidden under the mattress. I like the idea of freezing time somewhere between the boys being fully potty trained and becoming obnoxious backtalkers.
The saying we've all heard goes like this, "If you love something, set it free; if it returns it's yours forever, if not it was never meant to be." So, to hedge my bets I'm making sure the pantry is good and stocked. They may not be thrilled to come back and see their old mom, but what young man can resist the lure of free food?