Dylan has a nightmare at least once a week, often more. They used to be scary to observe—if you’ve ever read the description of what it’s like for a small child to have a night terror, that’s exactly how he would behave, and the first couple times I saw him in the throes of one I was nearly convinced he was having a seizure of some kind.

Now they seem like regular nightmares, whatever that means. He usually wakes up sometime before midnight, sitting upright in his bed and sort of squawking unhappily, and one of us goes in to check on him. We ask if he’s having a bad dream (he says yes), we ask if he can remember what it was about (he shakes his head), we tuck him back in and whisper soothing words and he falls back to sleep almost instantly.

He can never remember (or articulate) his dream the next morning, and he never mentions them or seems negatively affected in any way. I suppose it’s just a stage, his imagination lighting up like Roman candles in the middle of the night and taking his brain for an unpleasant ride.

Still, it makes me sad. He’s such a happy little guy who seems to live in a world of perpetual sunshine. If he had a soundtrack, it would be a cheery, silly Pomplamoose song. What dark unfriendly dreamscape is unraveling in his mind when the stars come out? Why should such a trusting, joyous little boy be sent somewhere like that?

Like I said, he seems no worse for wear, and I’m sure it will pass. But it’s maddening, in a way. We all want so badly to protect our children, and yet when they close their eyes, anything can happen. Anything at all.

Dylan turned four years old on February 4th, and I’ll tell you something about his birthday: I’m secretly glad for its even-numbered ease because whenever I make a pediatrician appointment for either child and I’m asked for their birthdates I have a small horrified moment where I completely blank out. Um, just a sec, I need a calculator, or wait, lemme just surf my blog archives . . .

2/4/08. That’s a good one, Dylan. Much better than your brother’s 8/31/05, not that this is a competition.

At four years old, Dylan is energetic, happy (90% of the time), boisterous, loud, and completely ridiculous. We have this running joke where he’ll come up to me and say, “And how about THIS one?” before bending over and patting one of his butt cheeks, or lifting his shirt to expose his belly. That’s my cue to shriek “Ewwwww!” and he collapses in laughter.

He asks a lot of seemingly inane questions over and over and I have to admit, I was a little worried about it (Dylan: “Is it time to get Riley yet?” Me: “Dylan, it’s only 9 AM. We don’t get Riley until much later today, remember?” Dylan: “Okay! … Is it time to get Riley now?” Me: “Uhhhh, did you by chance hit your head today?”) until I realized he was just messing with me. He is a total punk, a mischievous jokester who I guarantee will be the one to delightedly rubber-band the handle on the kitchen sink sprayer as soon as he figures out how.

He loves to wear his cowboy hat and gallop all over the house with his stick horse, joyously smashing it into various pieces of furniture and scraping up the walls. He makes an enormous mess wherever he goes, trailing crumbs and toys and a seemingly bottomless collection of Matchbox cars.

He still likes horses, although I’d say that particular stage has largely passed.

He is absolutely fearless when it comes to his physical safety, which is cute on the playground, less so in parking lots. Wherever we go, I walk behind him with one hand ready to snatch the hood of his jacket, while I murmur a constant stream of directives: “Dylan, watch where you’re going. Dylan, remember to look both—DYLAN! Dylan, be careful. Dylan, FOCUS.”

He’s relentlessly obnoxious to the cat, who has rewarded him more than once with a swat across the face, not that he’s learned a damn thing from it.

He’s cuddly, chirpy, and funny as hell. He’s suddenly painfully shy of strangers and will hide behind my pantleg when approached. He loves music and has a little repertoire that he sings over and over, including “Six Days on the Road,” and “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” He loves America’s Funniest Home Videos, bullriding shows, anything sweet and carb-y (that’s m’boy!), and playing Richard Scarry Busytown with Riley.

We bought him a balance bike for his birthday, and he rode it for exactly one afternoon before graduating to Riley’s old bike, sans training wheels. Every afternoon, rain or shine, Dylan pedals madly up and down our driveway, around and around. I watch him out the window and I think, Oh, he’s going too fast, I should try and slow him down. But I don’t, of course.






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