Heid: My 4-year-old and his apartment

Recently, much of our conversation on the way home from school has centered on a certain cell phone tower about a quarter mile from our house.

It started out that that tower was a marker that we were almost home – “Mommy, I see our tower, guess what that means?”

Or as we would leave the house, “I guess we haven’t gotten far yet, Mommy, there’s our tower.”

johns mom works by Jess Heid

johns mom works
by Jess Heid

And a week or two ago, John declared that our family would move to that tower. His room, he said, would be at the very top. He would build walls and a roof (of brick, natch – can’t have the big bad wolf blowing that sucker off) and our room would be just below it, with Charlie’s room next to Mommy and Daddy’s and the living room on the ground. The kitchen would be at the back. He described in great detail how the layout would work for our family.

“I’ll need lots of trees to build walls, Mommy. Can you help me use a hammer and Daddy’s ladder?”

I guess when you’re 4 and you’ve moved twice since you turned 3, that seems like a lot of moving. It must almost be time for the next move, and what better place than this whimsical tower that he can construct? No amount of reassurance that we plan on staying put in the house we’re currently in would serve to change his mind about our destination.

But this weekend, John chose a new locale for our family’s “new house.” As we drove past a large apartment complex, I heard that inquisitive voice, in the tone that I knew meant he was thinking hard.

“Mommy, when will our family move into an apartment?”

I explained that we probably wouldn’t ever live in an apartment – that we intend to stay in our house for a very long time. “But you might move into an apartment when you’re all grown up, baby.”

“NO!!!” came the emphatic reply. “I’m going to live with you guys forever!”

“When you’re a grown up like Daddy, you might want to live in your own place – “ I began, but he cut me off.

“NO!!!! I’m just going to stay a kid forever. Maybe I won’t eat so I don’t grow up. I’m never going to live in an apartment without you.”

After explaining that he needed to eat to stay strong even if he stayed a kid (I wanted to fend off any potential hunger strike), my husband and I explained to John that when he has a family of his own – in his own words, when he is a “blue-eyed daddy” – he might want to live in a house or an apartment with his spouse and his children.  But he remained emphatic that would never happen.

The conversation moved on. We went to a pie auction at our church. We headed back home and I put sugar-laden boys to bed.

After reading a story, telling a story, singing a song, a drink of water, hearing what he planned to dream about, and “two minutes” of snuggling (that’s our nightly routine), I kissed John on the forehead and tucked him in and began to leave the room.

As I pulled the door shut, I heard that little voice again.

“Mommy?”

“Yes, John?” I replied, trying to measure my voice and not become impatient.

“Maybe when I am a blue-eyed daddy I will want to live in an apartment with my family.

“That’s fine my love. Only if you want to,” I assured him.

“Sweet dreams, Mommy,” was the sleepy reply that trailed off as I gently shut the door.

Filed in: Opinion

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