"I love you more" has been an ongoing thing between my son and me.
He has declared on many a time, that it is he who loves me the mostest. I tell him there is no way.
"To the moon and beyond," he would say, pointing his little finger to the ceiling.
"I love you beyond where the stars can reach," I will counter. "Because I love you more."
"Impossible," is his response as he snuggles close, smiling happily at the knowledge that he is loved. I assure him it is not impossible at all, but very much the truth.
"You smell pretty," he tells me every time he gives me a hug.
The little bee charmer will even tell me I am beautiful when I am sitting at my laptop, hair piled on my head and a coffee stain on my blouse.
"No, I am not, baby," I will reply.
His arms will swing around my neck as he hugs me tight. "To me, you are."
No one told me how precious little boys were. All I remembered was hearing the rhyme about little girls being made of sugar and spice. I knew as a former little girl myself, that meant I could be quite the sassmaker.
Little boys were supposed to be made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails - in other words, dirty, vile and nasty things. I would take that over sass any day.
"Did you ever want a girl?" Cole asked me one day.
"No," I answered honestly.
"Even though you could play makeup and do hair and girlie stuff with a girl?"
"I am glad I had you and that you are you," was my sincere reply. This makes him smile widely as he skips off to play.
He is secure in the knowledge that he is loved, cherished and adored. He has boundaries, and rules to give him his parameters in which to grow and develop. Kindness and compassion are required; chocolate cake or brownies are perfectly acceptable for breakfast.
But I want him to stay that precious, innocent, tenderhearted child he is, just a little bit longer.
I worry that the world will make him hardened. I fear he will let someone's cruelty put out his inner ‘spark,' as he calls it. I dread the thought of him ever having a broken heart or dealing with any disappointment that can't be fixed by Mama making cupcakes or taking him to the park.
There may be a time, in the not so distant future, that Mama may not hold that special place in his heart as I do now. Where he doesn't come ask my opinion first, before he does a friend and where no matter what Daddy says, Mama's word is final. But I cherish the fact that now, for the time being, he is still my little boy and my one-and-only and my heart and that now, he thinks I hung the moon. My own teen years made me think my own mother knew nothing, a disillusion that I held until my mid-twenties.
Today, he rounded double digits, entering a new decade, one where he is now 10 and has been telling me, "I am not cute, I am serious," when I comment how adorable I think he is.
He still lets me hold his hand when we cross the street, or puts his arms around my waist to walk in step with me.
He sees no shame in showing his unabashed joy at seeing his aunt Karla, the weekend before the big 1-0 as he ran down the hall of the hotel with joy to jump into her arms.
He still has that great love affair with a certain plush pig and the other plushies of Piglandia, occasionally asking me if I still believe the pigs are real.
I always say yes.
He's changed so much in a lightning fast decade, growing taller, gaining quiet confidence and learning compassion. Teaching me about faith, tolerance and acceptance along the way. Things I should have taught him but he has brought the lessons to me.
He still needs Mama to help him fall asleep, as I sing him softly to sleep, me on one side, the pit mix, Angel Doodle on the other, guarding the pigs.
"I love you, Mama," he said sleepily.
"I love you more," I said, my standard reply.
This time, I noticed he didn't say, "Impossible."
The next day, again, we did our "I love you's" but he didn't reply with "Impossible."
"You know why I don't say impossible anymore?" he asked, seeing my questioning look. I nodded.
"I realized Mama, as much as I love you, I have realized, you do love me more. You have to; you're the mama. Mama's just have more love."
"So no more ‘impossible?'" I asked.
He shook his head. "No, sweet girl, because I know as much as I do love you, it could never match how much you love me. Because I do know, you do love me more."
He gave me a quick hug before he skipped off, to build things in Minecraft and watch his cartoons.
Growing up, faster than I liked but gaining insight and wisdom with each passing day.
Maybe, just maybe, he will let me hold his hand and sing him to sleep just a little bit longer.
Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author of the recently e-published novel, "The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery."