About 20 times a day he closes his eyes and asks if I can see them. I don’t know why this is a thing with him, but it’s very important to him that I cannot see his eyes. I am expected to make a dozen hilariously wrong guesses. When I tell him mama is just tired of playing that game, he wraps himself up in my sheer curtains.
“Can you see them now?”
He turns everything into a competition. “I got to the table first!” “I got my shoes on first!” “I love you more than you love me!” “My tummy is bigger than yours is!” I usually have to tell him I’m not competing because if I ever win, he goes apeshit crazy. I keep the competition thing in my back pocket, though, for when I really need it. Yesterday, for example, I laid down next to him to get his nap started and Leo bawled, “I’m not tired. I’m not going to nap today.” I closed my eyes and said, “I’m more tired than you are!” He answered, “No, I’m more tired than you are!” and he fell instantly asleep.
His favorite thing to do is battle people. “Will you fight with me?” he asks. We body slam him, we put him in the Tree of Woe, we nail him with the sleeper hold, we sit on him until he squeals. When we let him go he jumps up and yells, “Haha, I win!”
I wrap him up in a towel and set him on my lap when he is finished with his bath. He tells me he’s going to hold me instead of me holding him. I tell him I would squish him like a bug, but when I’m a little old lady he can get me out of the tub and wrap me up and hold me on his lap like I’m holding him now. He says, “But Mom…you’re already old!”
He wants to play soccer inside. He makes his goal the entire north-facing wall of our house. Our goal is the doorknob on the closet at the end of a narrow hallway. He screams and laughs and kicks the ball with his little-but-not-so-little legs and screams some more. He is freaking adorable and he is a terrible cheat.
He wears his pink glitter light-up rubber boots everywhere. I hate it.
He wants to be a mom when he grows up. Not a stay-at-home dad or any kind of a dad; he wants to be a mom because, he says, “I like moms better.” Today, though, he changes his mind. “I want to be a dad when I grow up and I will live with you and I will be in charge of video games then.” He tells me whenever his kids ask if they can play, he’ll say, “Yes!” I tell him I’ll put it in writing and he said, “Yeah. Put it on the ‘dult list.”
He asks me remember that The Titanic hit an ice burger, though because of his speech impediment, it sounds like “ice booger.” I can’t decide which is cuter.
He listens to me read books to him until my voice or eyes give out, whichever comes first. Rocco reads books to Leo whenever he can, and Leo has heard the books so many times that if Rocco comes to a word he doesn’t know, Leo fills in for him.
(“No, Rocco…that word is ‘Jarvis!’”)
He often signs his name “Ole” instead of Leo, like his life is some kind of bullfighting match. (It is.)
He eats way more cake than anyone should be allowed to eat. I set a healthy, well-rounded meal in front of him each night. He takes one look at it and says, “I don’t like it,” and after dinner I put his leftovers in the fridge and two days and several attempts later I throw them away. At some point, a piece of cake falls into his hold, I never know quite how, and he licks the platter clean. I have not given up on his eating habits yet, but I am getting close.
Anytime he gets something special during the day, like a handful of m&m’s, he counts them up and says, “I will share with Brothers!” As soon as Brothers come home, they are offered a few sticky m&m’s from a little brother who is glowing with the joy that comes from sharing something you value so much.
He tells me out of the blue that he wants to donate everything in his piggy bank to people who need things more than him.
Every day at one he announces that he’s not tired. I tell him I know he’s not tired, but we’re just going to rest for a bit anyway. I lay down next to him in his fire truck bed, our foreheads touching and our bodies curved together, making a lopsided heart, and it is my favorite time of the day so I lay there smiling. Ten minutes later Leo is asleep and I am laying there with a smile still on my face, thankful with every breath that even though he has declared himself Big, we can still lay napping together like we did four years ago when he needed sleep as desperately as he needs to whack people with Nerf swords today.
He is my Leo. My Big and Giant Leo. My fighty, cake-filled, generous, silly, wide awake and never tired, wink wink, can’t-see-my-eyes Leo. Sometimes he is my Ole. But mostly, he is and always will be my sweet Baby Leo.
WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Baked rigatoni with prosciutto
Salad with roasted red peppers, cannellini beans, and feta
Gelato with pizelles