Jasper. (Almost) Four. (Definitely) Wonderful.

In mere days, my youngest guy- my youngest anyone– will turn four years old.

He is my baby. The smallest in the family, sure, but also the one I let things…slide for. I admit it. I never understood it until I had a decided LAST in the family, but once we agreed that our family was complete, he firmly became our “baby.”

(When P.J. and I started dated we spoke about having “at least five” hahahahahaha. That lasted until I was halfway through my pregnancy with my third, and loudly/emotionally informed P.J. that “2.5 people was a lot of people,” so three turned out to be a really great number for us.)

Back to Jasper. When you’re the “decided last,” everything you do is cute. Everything. Things that you called “so grown up” with your first kid (and maybe acknowledged on paper with your middle kid) become downright adorrrrrrable with your very last kid. Jasper’s the one who I’ll always carry upstairs- even though he’s quickly on his way to being our tallest child. Jasper needs a snack at 1 a.m.? Maybe he’s starving to death, get the man some multigrain Cheerios. And as for nighttime visitors in our bed? You know, the very same thing we kiboshed with babies 1 and 2?

All it takes is a murmured “You snug me, Mom?” And I practically kick P.J. in the back to make space for “my baby.”

Here’s what’s weirder (following a couple of paragraphs which were already pretty weird): Jasper is turning the age that Nora was when I had Jasper. And when I brought him home from the hospital, Nora seemed huge. Pretty much ready to drive. (Susannah has always seemed exactly like Susannah, thankyouverymuch. Like some mystical, fully formed pixie ready to throw her duffel into the cab of your pickup and yes, have an adventure.)

Back to Jasper.

Jasper woods

So. The fact that he’s turning the age that my oldest was when we realized we’d had all of our kids is…odd. The upside is that, since I no longer have three babies four and under, I’m able to really appreciate this age. And it’s a pretty grand age. The downside is that, since the two bigs are at school, Jasper has to make a lot of room for my feelings about his age.

But here’s what I know about this guy so far: He’s hilarious. And not even in the “kids say the darndest things” way. He’s legitimately…funny. Like, “say something under your breath, walk out of the room, poke your head back in to do a double-take, and end with a zinger” funny. Maybe it’s because he’s a really great listener. Maybe it’s because he can barely get a word in edgewise. Or maybe it’s because he knows that when he really kills it, we all look up and give him the attention he sporadically wants.

Unless he doesn’t. Why are you looking at him.

He’s my guy who, upon hearing that he needs to complete a task before moving onto the next one, alternates between snapping to attention and finishing the job in record time, and turning into Andy from Wet, Hot, American Summer– especially in the scene where Andy collapses, mid-huff, during the insurmountable process of returning his cafeteria tray to the kitchen.

When he doesn’t like the answer he’s supposed to give you, he replies with a mournful “I can’t know what’s in my brain.”

His favorite game is one he invented, called “Baby Lion,” where he does everything that Jasper does but as a cub named Roary. There’s a lot of meowing, too. Think: original Daniel Tiger on Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, but actually/mostly endearing.

He’s super concerned about being A Good Guy, and when you see him standing with his hands shoved in his pockets and his heart emoting through his eyes, you see the kind of guy he’ll someday become. (Spoiler: A good one.)

He eats like a tank, grows like a weed, races cars and trucks like a pro, and tea parties like an exceptionally well-trained little brother.

Which he is. He thinks his sisters hung the moon and, in turn, they’ve helped to mold a guy who’ll laugh at their jokes, help with their chores, snuggle in with a good book, and look at everyone around them with compassion, but never- ever- assume that there’s something they can’t do simply because they’re girls. He is their (preschool baby) equal, and I can already see the thank-you notes To the Sisters of Jasper from his future partner, whomever that may be.

But back to Jasper. (Which I’m fairly sure will be the name of his memoir.)

He’s a jumping bean, a tiny figurine narrator, and probably the best napper I’ve ever known. He’s serious like Nora, fearless like Suzy, a long-winded storyteller like me, and a fixer like his Dad.

But mostly? He’s himself.

The little man I never expected to meet. The boy I can’t imagine my world without.

(My baby.)

Happy birthday, Jasper Callahan.



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