|Bassey and Baby Boogie|
Boogie turned four on November 30th. We had a superhero party for him because he’s obsessed with Batman and Superman. Or he was. The day of the party, he told me that he actually wanted a Toy Story birthday. Excuse me, what? You couldn’t have said something earlier? Like before I paid an anorexic black man to put on a Batman costume stuffed with T-shirts to make him appear muscular? (Let’s discuss this, Batman. First of all, you were my size. The end. I mean, really, how are you Batman, but I could probably take you in an arm wrestling match?)
Anyway, Boogie and his friends had fun. There was a moment when he turned really shy and didn’t want to dance. I’ve noticed lately that as outgoing and fun as he is, he doesn’t like attention forced on him. He’d rather get/earn your attention. If everyone is focused on him and he hasn’t done anything to deserve it, he gets really shy until everyone leaves him alone. Then and only then does the Boogie Monster come out, laughing and dancing and cracking jokes. Weird.
Along with turning four, Boogie also got his first big boy bed. A rocket-shaped Buzz Lightyear bed. This thing is kinda awesome. I mean, I kinda want one.
It’s a birthday gift from my sister, and he was so excited that he refused to sleep in it the first night. Wait, let’s tell the truth: Boogie started climbing out of his crib at around 13 months. The first time it happened, I was watching TV (I mean writing) when all of a sudden this tiny hand touched my shoulder and I screamed like Chucky had come to life. It scared the crap out of me. I didn’t know how he’d done it. I was pretty sure he levitated out of the bed and my child was some sort of witch. He did it twice more in as many days before I camped out outside the bedroom door and watched my kid Prison Break himself out. He stood up in the crib, looked around to make sure nobody was watching, then he threw his leg over the rail, and shimmied down. When he turned around and saw me standing there, I swear on his life, he tried to climb back up. It was then that I knew this kid was weird. I mean special.
Anyway, he’s been in my bed or with my parents ever since. I wanted to get him a toddler bed immediately but my parents, who have been stricken with a virus that erased their memories of ever having had children before, felt he was too young. Too young?
I’m pretty sure I was in my own room by the time I was a week-and-a-half old. And they made me get a job when I was three. That’s not true. My point is that I don’t understand how grandparents conveniently forget all the madness and torture they put their children through once they have grandchildren.
For instance, I remember sitting in front of the same plate of food for a week until I gave in and ate the brussel sprouts. Meanwhile, Boogie can wrinkle his nose and say, “I don’t like that,” and my parents (or their alien counterpoints) look at me like he just confessed that I beat him and say, “Find out what he wants to eat and make it!” I’m sorry, what? Ridiculous.
Anyway, Boogie spent his first night in his Big Boy bed last night and as thrilled as I was to not have a foot on my neck or creepy little fingers brushing against my ear and scaring the crap out of me, I still felt a little—something.
I mean, I understand that children grow up. Last night, I had dinner with a 14-year-old that I used to baby sit when she was four. All I could think was, “One day, Boogie’s going to be 14.” And watching him slide into his Toy Story sheets (with all the lights in the room on and the door open), I couldn’t help but feel a little sad. He’d already gotten dressed without me and when I pick out clothes for him, he deems them “not cool” and puts them back. He likes dressing like his uncles. Head- to-toe fresh. I was okay with the clothes. I was okay when he decided that he didn’t need me to go to the bathroom with him. Or when, last week, he was on his tiptoes to reach the bathroom light and this week, he just reaches up and flicks it like nothing. He no longer needs his stool to reach the bathroom sink. He pees standing up. I’m fine with all of that, but for some reason, the bed thing had me all fucked up.
It took him a minute to fall asleep but when he did, I stood in the doorway, staring at my baby boy. I remember when he was rolling around and kicking inside of me and now he’s this full personality, fully actualized human being. I remember when I was his best friend; now he claims Maliq and Ian and Buzz Lightyear as best friends. He’s still a huggy and kissy little boy, but I dread the day when I ask for a kiss and he refuses to give me one. Standing in the door way, watching his chest rise and fall under the comforter, I knew that he wasn’t going to be “my little boy” for much longer.
But he’s always going to be my baby.
I hope the world treats him well. I hope he treats the world well. I hope he remains filled with laughter and jokes and kindness. I hope he changes the world, instead of letting the world change him. I know that’s a lot to go through just by watching him sleep; like, I’ve watched him thousands of times before. But he’s growing up and as much as I was happily looking forward to it, I’m going to miss the tiny newborn that fit in my forearm. One day, I’ll tell you his birth story. How extraordinary it is. How grateful that I am that he made it, despite all signs to the contrary. But today, I’m going to sit in this bed by myself and listen out for his, “Mooooomy! You want to play Scooby Doo? You can be Daphne.”
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About our MyBrownBaby Contributor: Bassey Ikpi is a Nigeria-born, Oklahoma-bred, PG County-fed, Brooklyn-led writer/poet/neurotic who is the single mother of an amazing man-child, Elaiwe Ikpi. She's half awesome, a quarter crazy and 1/3rd genius... the leftover bit is a caramel creme center. A strong advocate of mental health awareness, Bassey is currently working on a memoir about living with mental illness and producing Basseyworld Live, a stage show that infuses poetry and interactive panel discussions about everything from politics to pop culture. Find more Bassey on her site, Bassey's World.
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