Seth Noble Mangum
When you name a child, you only pray this child will adopt all the hope you've tied up in that name. Well, Seth, at four years old (tomorrow), is Noble. Of course, he is also four years old. The age itself comes with the idiosyncrasies of being in between "toddler" and "schoolboy": frustration--deep frustration--with siblings and their encroachment upon his various tasks (and this boy has some serious tasks that take place), seeing things perfectly clear in his mind yet somehow the adults in his world fail to always comprehend when he lays these things out in speech, and his little body contains a multitude of dreams and desires fueled by fierce curiosity and there seem to be so many limits set on his world.
There is a guilelessness about him that sets him apart. It is subtle, but you notice it in the way he reacts to things, to me, to Craig. He is pure and perfect. I perhaps complain too much about the difficulty of my days in managing Seth and his sisters, but this says mountains more about me than him. I never go to bed at night wishing he would behave better. When my head hits my pillow the pleas are that my own behavior will improve on the morrow.
Seth is a creator. Not on paper, not with brushes or pens or paint, but with building materials. he is fascinated by the fluidity of water. He has created more variations on the waterfall than I thought possible. The above is a feat in precision and balance. The hose posed precariously on the chair back so the water will fall exactly on top of the wooden block below forming a circular waterfall. He knows when he is "on to something" and comes running in breathless, "Come and see this waterfall!!"
This one: buckets stacked and hose positioned so that tiny waterfalls trinkle all around the edge of the bucket. the purple Lego fills up with these drips and forms its own little falls. Seth is a perfectionist and can lose control of his emotions when things around him start falling apart: forts falling, block towers tumbling, roofs sliding off Lincoln Log homes. His is a precarious world, I hope that he can make this perfectionism work for him. Seth asks serious questions and demands serious answers. He nearly always replies, "Oh." When I have satisfactorily replied to one of his queries. This "oh" is so accepting. This complete-faith-in-my-word-"oh" sometimes scares me. In the shadow of his perfectionism and his perfection I feel most unworthy to be the authority. I feel very imperfect.
He loves his sisters. Despite Lucy's antics (she's two) he calls for her to come play every day. I love this photo above of Seth with Hazel. It sits on the dresser in my room. He is fascinated by her. He is always bringing her toys, sometimes dumped onto her head. His voice climbs several notches as he "coos" and "goos" in her face. He loves to feel her kisses on his face and will often, despite my shoos, get as close as possible so that she will reach out for him. It is adoration in action. Some of the best moments of my day are sitting with Hazel in my lap as Seth climbs and rolls all around his sister. I can't feed her if he is in the room, she is obsessed with his every move.
We have been discussing all week the things four-year-olds do: ride big boy bikes, swim without floaties, go to the last year of pre-school, help our sisters...
Tonight he asked, "Tomorrow, when I am four, I am going to be as big as you?"
"No, Seth," I replied as we stuffed the party favor bags, in this moment, in awe of him, "you are much much bigger than me."
Happy happy fourth year, sweet sweet Seth. I love you.