What I want you to know. Yesterday a big kid invited you outside to go play in his snow fort. I didn’t want to let you go. You didn’t really have the right clothes. I had left your snow pants at home. Your mittens were cloth, you only had your sneakers. I was not prepared for you to want to play in the snow that day. It was only a few inches this snowfall. But the boy stood there and asked- and you turned to me and asked and your face was so hopeful. Just three years old and your face wanted this like nothing I had ever seen you want- you had been staring at this snow fort out of the window for a long time… waiting to be asked. So you could ask me. I said you could go. (I didn’t want to say you could go). The street was very close you know. There was a tunnel. (Tunnels collapse all the time). You are very strong (You are also a bit short for your age). It wasn’t that I didn’t trust you. Or believe in you. I want you to know that. It was because I didn’t want you to be that old I think.
But you actually fell on the floor so excited when I said yes. Two too big boots were found and real big boy mittens. You called them monkey gloves. You felt so cool. We put on your hat and with tassels and your flannel coat. I know you only wanted to button one button like you always ask- because that’s how dad does it… but I made you button up the whole coat. I warned you that your jeans would get wet. You don’t like your clothes to get wet. But I told you not to let it bother you- they would dry. That’s what I told you when you spilled water on them that morning and wanted to change. I told you the air would dry them. That’s what the air does. And it did.
You boys started out and your brother stood and watched you go. You followed the big boy off the porch and down the steps and we stood inside. Your brother had his nose pressed against the window making little pictures with his breath. The big boy ran in front of you and you looked a little lonely walking on that path. It wasn’t very long. When you came to the tunnel the big boy went through quickly and popped out in the atrium of the fort. You stood there watching him build and every so often would glance up at me. You thought you were so cool. You laughed when the big boy threw snow. You helped him pack the outside of the fort. Someone was crying and I looked away for a moment and when I looked back out the window I only saw the back of your coat ducking into the tunnel.
I knew your pants would get wet. I waited and watched you disappear. And then just as quickly as you were gone you came out the other side. Snow dusted your hat and your coat. You brushed your hands together and wiped off your knees. And then. Then- with the baby crying on my hip- I saw you look back at me and you smiled. Your little smile that I have known all of your life. And I was so proud of you because you were so proud of you. I can’t even begin to tell you how much. I stood there inside with the baby and your brother and watched you. I loved your smile and I folded it up, very neatly, and tucked it into a small corner of my heart.