Nick and Jen have admitted it's pretty hilarious to see us emerging from the brush a la Field of Dreams, except instead of corn it's pine trees, thorn bushes and construction gravel we disappear and reappear from. To them it's funny; to our neighbors, it's certainly perplexing and possibly disconcerting, considering we've entered the woods only to come back an hour later with a very small infant and an excitable pug in tow.
I haven't yet explained to anybody what the heck it is that's going on. Part of me wants to push this until one of the neighbors just can't stand it anymore and is compelled to ask where we keep getting that baby from, and why. I'm sure they're also curious about the pug, but I can imagine discovering the baby's origin is priority one.
About six years ago, we adopted our cats. They were several months old at the time—an elderly woman who lived in the mountains discovered them and cared for them as long as she could, then handed them over to an animal rescue. Even though they weren't tiny kittens at that point, compared to our best friends' Ben and Alicia's cats Mamfa and Bandit, our cats were miniscule.
Truth be told, our cats looked normal. Mamfa and Bandit looked enormous. Comically huge. Granted, Mamfa was a Maine Coon and so naturally on the bigger side, but as compared to our petite fur balls, those cats looked positively ridiculous. In time we readjusted to their size, feeling less startled and prone to giggling every time we saw them, the way you get used to an acquaintance with goofy hair or a coworker with a loud, honking nose-blowing technique.
All this is to say, when compared with our nephew Grayson—who at three weeks has a belly larger than his waist and barely any cheeks in the diaper region—Ethan seems absurdly large.
He's still my baby, although I've noticed lately when we cuddle, his arms and legs spill out of my grasp while bony knees and elbows dig into my soft middle-bits. Instead of fat little hands pulling at tendrils of my hair, bony little fingers with dirt under the nails pry my eyes open and twiddle with my lips as I rock.
Last week, he stopped saying "Da-ee" and started saying "Daddy." Instead of calling his uncles Amma and Ky-ky, more and more he's addressing them as Adam and Kyle.
This time two years ago, he was still relatively immobile; just learning to walk, really. Now he dive bombs me in the gut from the back of the couch, barrel rolls down hills, climbs stairs, kicks soccer balls, and even swats whiffle balls out of the air with a baseball bat.
He's still my baby, but he's not a baby. And that is what makes this situation, this parenting thing, so completely and maddeningly and heart-wrenchingly ridiculous.