Andrew loves the snow. On Thursday night, I took him out to our courtyard armed with millions of layers, a coat, hat and mittens. He loved it. He was so focused that he would not even speak to me or request that I "be so sad" (so that he could come over to me with a big smile and give me a hug to fix it) or "say 'awesome Andrew'" to praise whatever he is doing. He picked up snow and tried to make balls, and then concentrated on throwing them. Baby Will did not like our outing at all, particularly since the cold was compounded by the slush droshing (this means 'falling in big cold splatters') down on our faces. Andrew ignored my suggestion that we go back inside, so I decided to just go in and watch him enjoy his first enjoyable snowfall through the glass door.
It was a typical dark early evening and I just watched his little red puffy coat manuevering around, outlined against the white snow and the stone fountain. He had his tiny birthday party in that exact spot only a few months ago, back when the world was blue and hot and bright and baby Will had yet to bless it. I realized that we had not really visited the courtyard much, if at all, since that day in October. The fountain no longer had water, or ducks to swim in it, or Piper to almost drown in it, as it did on the day of the party, and its presence against the darkening sky lent an air of formality or old-time grandeur to the whole courtyard, like Andrew were playing in a snow-covered museum or the place I imagined as a 6 year old reading the part of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe where all the Witch's stone creatures were kept.
Or maybe it just felt like a museum to me because all his little paths and places are taking on the sense of by-gone days already. I am watching him grow up and transform so quickly from the little baby that has been keeping me awake for unnatural periods of time into a little boy who prays about his cars, who jumps over cracks and up and down the big cement steps we find every few feet on Connecticut Avenue and other streets my dad's 12 year old feet trod 50 plus years ago, who can negotiate 'real cookies' into our struggles to get him to eat actual food, who looks at the man with the prosthetic leg and declares solemnly and loudly and clearly, inches from the missing limb, "that man got hurt, mommy," over and over again, who can climb up and down 12 foot ladders with horrifying speed, who is on the look-out for wolves on our adventures down the bike trail, who says please, thank you and no thank you almost every time he should, who can tell me "I'm saying so many words" and explain himself with an "I'm so sad" when I won't let him do something even more dangerous than the ladder stunts and who, when he sees me watching him with a sadness of my own in those moments when I recognize that I can't slow this progress down or ever revisit these passing days again but in my memory, which he won't share, can say to me "Be so happy, Mommy," surprising me that on some level he knows it is a sadness I am feeling--the sadness that, for me, always accompanies every deeply happy moment.
He finally tired of being outside alone (it must have been this, as he is completely impervious to extreme temperatures) and so made his toddler way over to join us inside in the warmth of which is is totally unaware. Because I am no artist and it would be pointless / frustrating for me to do so, I have rarely even thought about capturing a moment in time with my own pencil, but as he threw his last snowball and turned towards the door, I wished I could draw the scene before me. I suppose I will just have to be satisfied with my memory of it: my little boy, just two, in his red puffy coat and hat, so small against the huge black sky looming around him and the big empty fountain stretching upwards, glowing faintly in the winter evening like a marker in a cemetary. Some things a camera misses, anyway. Though you won't remeber these days, I hope you will keep with you the feeling of this time in our lives together. I am so happy, Andrew.