He is petulant and hard to please, wrapping himself in a quilt of surly attitude that hurts my heart when he hurls arrows of 'dat's so dumb' at my efforts. Sometimes, I reach into my pocket, pretending to pull out invisible secrets and whip proverbial happiness across the room at him. Sometimes this warrants a giggle. Sometimes a stomping march up the stairs.
But there are moments. Little snapshots of grace. Seconds of peace and sweetness before he catches himself - embarrassed - and runs back to tough - ninjas are cooler than princes.
I took him to see the movie he wanted so badly to see. Army men and bad guys and superheroes danced across drive-in screen. Us, in the back of grandmas van, pulling in our over-hung feet when rain poured and lightning cracked the sky beside a Marvel battle. "Dis is da most awesome movie in da whole worwld!"
And as credits rolled and I bent across his sleepy self to buckle him in he laid a hand on my arm. "Tank you for bwinging me to da drwive-in, Mommy."
Out of nowhere, this sleepy affection, and I'm smiling into the darkness and the bottoms of my track pants are wet from puddles and I feel like the best mother in the whole world.