In his bath he is Luke Skywalker in the Death Star’s trash compactor. He splashes through a sudsy pool of debris: wind-up divers, squirters and squeakers, stick-on flowers, fish, snails, butterflies, twizzlers and fizzlers. There’s barely room left in that tub for him.

In the highchair he is forever the critic.

In the house he is a dragonfly, circling and buzzing, bumping up cheerfully against the perimeter in search of stimulation and escape.

Outside he is a puppy, unhinged, clumsy and joyous.

Upon being carried inside he is a wailing sack of potatoes, unfailingly despondent.

After an absence he is static cling, full of secrets and kisses, all cashew buttery and cream cheesy hands and fingers entangled in my hair and gripping my neck. Mine, mine, all mine he grins, folding into me, owning me. I complain and tease my magnet-boy, but I love it.

On being lifted out of the crib he is three hundred pounds.

On me he is etched, but more as a phantom limb as he grows up and away. Every day he is more himself, full of his own opinions and priorities, leaving me with an intense mix of bittersweetness, protectiveness, fear and pride.

But every day of growing up and away adds more to the mystery. More to unravel, decode. Flirts: check. Impatient with books: check. Wave-fearless: check. Collector of rocks: check. Each subject to change at any point, but noteworthy just the same.