I talk with other mothers at the park, or climb a ladder at The Boss's directive, while my son stands mired in wood chips next to a swing. He's not verbal like his big sister was (and is). He does not demand attention with a smile and a laugh the way she always has. The Boss insists upon sharp focus; Number Two is peripheral.
He is short and strangely solid. He's never weighed much, but you wouldn't know it from looking at him sideways. His hair is white and his eyes are freaking huge. Sometimes when I don't expect him to be looking at me, I jump back from the shock of his scrutiny.
You don't have to look close to see his beauty. I embrace that now, though I used to pride myself on a lack of maternal delusion when it came to my children's physical attributes. I think most parents believe their children to be among the most beautiful specimens on the planet. With The Boss, I made it clear that I understood my daughter's rightful place in the order of things. Yes, she is above average; no, her face is not destined to launch a thousand ships. But whose is?
Now I realize that trying so hard to be impartial is tiring. When my gaze finally settles on Number Two at the end of the day, or maybe at odd intervals somewhere in the middle, I see the most handsome boy I have ever known. He looks a lot like his father, a bit like my brother.
In his wide eyes there's even something of me.