"Tell me a story about yourself, Mommy, tell me about you, Varda," Jacob asks at dinner the other night.
And although he only listens to the first three words of my answer before he's on to his next question, it's a start.
A big start.
He's been talking a lot about family lately.
"Mom and Dad, you're my family." He says, with an intonation halfway between statement and question.
"Yes we are!" I confirm.
"And Ethan is my brother." He ads.
"That's right, Jakey."
"We're a family!" I reinforce.
"Daddy was a boy? Now he's a man? I will be a man?" (Right on all counts.)
"Daddy and Mommy get married?" (Yes we did.)
"Get married you can kiss the bride?" (smooching sound effect included) (Yes, we did.)
"I will grow up and be a man and get married." (Dear God I hope so)
And now, lately: "Mommy I'm going to marry you!"
And while I smile and explain that I'm already married to someone - Daddy - and he will have to find his own special person to marry when he grows up, I'm secretly glad he's said it while we're home. When he makes statements like this when we're out and about, I can see people doing a double take.
Unless Jake's been especially flappy or grimacey, they probably haven't expected him to be anything out of the ordinary, "passing" as it were, until the oddness of our conversation begins to become evident.
Also I'm mentally ticking off that box in my mind on the page of developmental milestones: Oedipal age - check!
In a "typically developing" boy that comes on about age four, and I seem to recall Ethan having similar romantic notions about me 'round about that time. And it also fits with where Jacob is in a lot of other ways, "socially/emotionally," as they say.
I kind of forgot how completely exhausting four year-olds can be... the thousand questions, the need for constant attention, the wanting to do complicated things themselves, and then the tantrums when it doesn't work out as planned.
That all this four-year-oldness comes wrapped in the body of a 120 pound, 5 foot tall, near eleven year-old makes it all the more unsettling for strangers to witness. Though of course that's just normal for our family, things being other than they would appear to be at quick glance.
"Blue Bear needs his family to go to bed with him!" Jake firmly asserts at bedtime tonight. And so I round up the white, turquoise and sky blue bears that we have long ago designated to be his mother, father and brother (although sometimes it's a sister, depending on Jake's mood), tuck them in beside him, sing them all to sleep.
"Mommy, sleep with me!" says Jake. And though I know I can't stay, that my presence will be too exciting, will keep him awake, I lie beside him for a few minutes as he recounts his day to me, telling the stories as he remembers them:
"Mommy and Jacob went to the movies and saw Turbo. We saw the credits and the music and it was 20th Century Fox."
"And Jake and mommy went to the grocery store and bought three things." (More like 20, but who's counting.)
"And then I laughed too much and said the stupid bad words and Mommy got cross. I caused confusion and delay. Mommy is going to fire me."
"No Jakey sweetie, you needed to calm down because it was bedtime, and I'm not cross, not mad, you are NOT a bad engine, just a bouncy one. And you can't be fired."
I stoke his head, drop another kiss upon it. "And even when I do get mad, Jakey? I never, ever stop loving you, not even for an instant."
"Know this: I will always be your mom, you will always be my son, and I will always love you, forever and ever. Nothing can ever change that."
And we lie quietly for a moment.
One moment's silence.
And then I kiss him again and ease my way out of the room.
"Goodnight, Mother" he lofts at my back as I slip away.
"Goodnight Jake, I'll see you in the morning."
And I will.