I play the game too. It’s not your fault. I am just as quick to offer a retort about my youngest being adorable, with quips like “good thing he’s cute” or “we know we’re biased, but …”
Yes, his adorableness is hard to dispute, and it is the one thing that we have treasured and never take for granted in our family; but perhaps to a fault. Our son, Amos — our tow-headed toddler who wears cute round spectacles and dresses like he is on the set of Little Lord Fauntleroy — is absolutely precious. Regardless of the fact that he can’t talk.
Amos has extra-special needs, and the dismal truth is, he will not always be as physically becoming. Should I begin weaning him away from the safe column of “cute?” I think I must, though it’s another scary leap to take, and they come so often these days. Though I cling to my tight rope, I feel shakier than ever.
Amos is growing, recently turning two-and-a-half, and his once chubby legs are becoming longer and slimmer. His baby self seems to be evaporating before my own blue eyes. We are not under the radar nearly as much anymore when we go out; and though we are safe in our small town bubble, that too is sure to pop in the near future. Inside, I quietly struggle with the balance of hope and acceptance when it comes to Amos’ limitations — a topic that keeps trying to embed itself in my thoughts, no matter how hard I try to block it.
It’s easier to focus on his cuteness, as I dress him in crisp gingham rompers and lime green tennis shoes and bright blue glasses. He is truly a sight to behold.
It was never my intention to hide behind his loveliness, though. I dressed my other three children quite sweetly at this age too, but I never felt the building pressure of danger or my fear for their future. As they grew older, and became long limbed, their brains moved with them — talking in sentences, using a scooter or balance bike, jumping off a step. All part of a fluid and natural sequence; and yet, while Amos’ physicality has transformed, the rest of him seems to have been left behind.
His forehead seems always stained with a greenish bruise, as his off-balance walking often results in a bumped head. And the hands that don’t yet know to catch him don’t help much, either. Only a few words he speaks can be understood by those who know him well — except of course, for “Mama.”
I am so thankful for my sweet boy and his cuteness. But increasingly, I’ve come to realize I can’t hide behind this facade for much longer. He will soon grow out of toddlerhood, and if we are to stop calling him a baby, then we have to start acting like it as well.
We know he is getting older and he is still the apple of my eye, but I can’t pretend that it is enough because it is not. I have a lot of work to do, and sometimes the mountains seem uncrossable. I want to see him for who he really is on the inside, and must, if I hope to help him find the words that are hiding deep in his soul.
So no, I will no longer let myself hide behind his cuteness. From here on out it will be valiant honesty about our Amos. A little boy who is two-and-a-half, wears glasses, adores his siblings, and yes, often plagues his two parents, who forever worry, and still feel so unsure of what they can do to help him. We will address his needs and support him, so that the little boy he is inside can perhaps catch up to the lovely picture we all see.
Because there is more to him than meets the eye. So much more than just “cute.”