And then he was seven.
It’s hard to remember back to when Ayub was just a little four year old wearing mis-matched pajamas and pink Crocs and staring at us from a faraway referral picture. I remember searching that photo looking for clues about who he was. That look on his face…was it fear? Or was he just a serious kid? Was he waiting for someone to come and get him? Did he know someone would?
Now, I look at him with just as many questions. Does he know what it means to be loved unconditionally? Does he know that he is permanently a part of our family? His birthdays mean more to me because they are not only a marker of his age, but they are a marker that we are a little closer to him being with us longer than he was without us, although we are still only halfway there.
But today, we celebrate.
To most people we meet, he just an all-American, seven-year-old kid. He eats hot dogs and pizza, but hates vegetables. He loves Ironman and Captain America, hates “bad guys” and bullies. He loves recess and tolerates the rest of school. He plays hard, but also enjoys long showers (with lots of singing). His favorite animals (Woosha, Timmy, and Buzz Lightyear) all sleep with him, tucked under his covers. He asks “why” more times in a day than any kid I’ve ever met. He still gets confused by the concept of “tomorrow.” As in “how many sleeps till tomorrow?” He loves his ice skating lessons and dreams of being a hockey player. Or at least of owning a really cool helmet. His world is expanding. He was sad a few weeks ago when his teacher told him that Pluto used to be a planet, but isn’t any more. He thinks that’s mean. He has a fierce temper, but is also just as quick to laugh. He loves tickle fights more than anything. He lines up his favorite, special toys in neat rows beside his bed and gets totally bent out of shape if they get messed up. He loves TV, movies and playing Lego Star Wars on the Wii. He prefers jeans to sweatpants. He is the only kid in the family who takes his boots off outside, hangs up his coat, and puts away his backpack. He wiggles incessantly, but will cuddle up to read a book in a heartbeat.
This week, he told me that, if I want, I can kiss him every morning when I wake him up. [Melt.] I think I will.