When the Boy and the Girl turned about three years old I declared, to anyone who would listen, “This is the best year ever!”
And it was, you know? It was a great year. They were independent enough to do a lot of things on their own, but still dependent enough on me that I felt useful and needed. That was the year I bought my first house of my very own and the two of them lived in their little room together. The walls were painted blue, like waves, and they would pretend they were under the ocean. They had bunk beds and the very first night the Girl one deemed the top to be hers. She climbed up, fearlessly, and promptly fell asleep. I sat on the edge of the Boy one’s bed for hours while he told me stories of a cartoon he’d seen called “Dave the Barbarian”. He was afraid to go to sleep, but would not ever say those words.
I took the day off on their birthday and we went to the beach with my friend Summer. We could do things like that then. They weren’t in school and March is the perfect time of year for Atlantic Beach. They still fell asleep in the car on long trips, but they could hold their pee really well too.
Perfect. Best year ever.
And then? They were four. And four was really awesome too. We all lived together then, like a family. Jason would get Bojangles for breakfast every Sunday morning. I went to college that year, and I remember how relieved they were that I wouldn’t be like that rat-bastard Steve on Blues Clues and say, “I’m going to college, bye!” only to be replaced by the less attractive and similarly nerdy Cousin Joe.
It was? The best year ever.
Until the next year. Jason and I got married and the Boy was the best man and the Girl was, as my Uncle Danny says, the “Flower young’un”. They went to school about a month later. They joined Karate and the Girl took dance and was a Girl Scout. They got involved in school. They were fun and bright and witty and…
It was the best year ever.
And every year since then? Has been the best year ever.
Eventually this will end, I know. I fear it all the time as I see them get taller, see them solve math problems that I can’t understand (“Let’s let dad help you with that one!” I say, and they buy it). The Boy has a girlfriend now and, thankfully, it’s only a school thing right now (with the exception of her birthday party a few weeks ago), but I dread the days he will spend hours on the phone with a girl. I dread the days they will become sullen and angry and acne-scarred. Full of angst and rage and things I remember but still can’t explain.
Because right now? They do things I can’t imagine having done at their age. They break boards in Tae Kwon Do, travel gracefully through social classes, and have absolutely no fear of things that terrify me still. They built forts, they write books (he draws, she writes), they even cook dinner.
They are growing up.
And then the Boy has poison ivy patches on his face and he needs his mom to help him.
And the Girl has a question about having a period. And she needs her mom to answer it.
They still need me.
It’s still the best year ever.
I suspect it always will be, because of them.