I’ve been a bit self-involved lately. I’ve been all about myself and my work and my yoga. When the whole point is that I have this kid I adore so insanely that I let him sometimes keep me from those things. And I’ve barely mentioned him lately!

Aidan is awesome.

He’s as willful and defiant as ever. He’s talking a mile a minute about the craziest shit. He’s got an imaginary friend named Car who’s always getting up to no good. He’s about to turn four (on February 29! He finally gets a real birthday!) He pushes my buttons until I’m sure I will lose my mind! And still I love him so much sometimes I think I’ll explode ’cause my body can’t possibly contain so much love.

Yesterday we fought at the Museum of Science.

It wasn’t a particularly interesting fight, but it does offer a window into our dynamic.

First he only wanted to do the stuff he always wants to do—the audio-kinetic sculpture, the dinosaurs, the kids’ play area—and refused to try any of the cool new stuff I tried to interest him in: a live animal show! the super-popular gecko exhibit! So, I got bored and bratty and started browsing Haute Look on my iphone. Then, when it was clearly time to go home (he was lying on the floor outside the gift shop), he refused and started running into the random exhibits he’d brushed off earlier.

After asking nicely for a while, I became gripped with anger and told him we were leaving right now and if he didn’t get with the program, he’d have no movies, no Angry Birds and no treats for a week, or some other ludicrous, over-the-top threat that made no sense but I was so pissed it just came out and sometimes those kind of threats are the only thing that work with him anyway. Well, he got so upset, he came at me like a wild animal, his little face scrunched up into a mask of rage, his hands curled into fists, and he started pressing his knuckles hard into my thighs and punching away.

“Don’t hit me,” I said, trying to keep my cool. “Let’s go now.”

With the fear of no Angry Birds in him, he followed obediently. Only to later run off shrieking toward the elevator, while I still had to stop to pay for parking, so I had to race after him, fuming again (this time I couldn’t even see where he’d gone) and explain to him he is NEVER EVER allowed to run off without me at the museum because I’m his mom and I HAVE TO KEEP HIM SAFE. But at least we were on our way home.

This kind of fight happens pretty much everyday for us. At the library. In the bath. There’s something about me that makes my son want to be naughty. He looks right at me, gets this glint in his eye and does whatever it is I just told him not to.

Doesn’t happen much with Daddy. Never happens with his teachers. Only Mommy gets to experience him in all his primal misbehaving glory.

Did I mention that “Car” gouged a hole the size of a silver dollar in the wall by his bed? Aidan swears he tried to talk him out of it, but that Car, man, he’s a bad boy and there’s no talking sense with him.

I got a little worried after that incident, but after googling “blames imaginary friend for bad behavior,” I learned it’s the oldest trick in the proverbial book. Turns out my kid is right on track. And I am supposed to act as if Car exists, treat him with respect and tell him he’s not allowed to come over to our house if he throws toys, gets water all over the bathroom or punches holes in the walls. If those measures don’t work, I can even suggest inviting Car’s mom over to discuss what to do next.

You know what’s amazing?

The day after the hole in the wall incident, Aidan came downstairs and announced, “Car is a part of me.”

Wow. Does anyone else think this is a sure sign my son’s a genius?

When I asked him to elaborate, he explained that Car was the part of him that did these bad things. Car lives in his hand.

Now we know when Car’s around. Aidan holds his hand up in the air, about level with his face, makes the sound of a revving motor, and takes off running, with Car leading the way. Usually it’s harmless. But sometimes Car comes out in the presence of other kids and I worry that either he’ll end up hitting one of them—or that they’ll think he’s weird.

He tells us a lot about Car: He’s big. Sometimes he 6, sometimes he’s 45, sometimes he’s a million. He can fly and he can also swim underwater. He has no wheels. He lives somewhere else, in another world. I can’t remember all the other things he’s told me about Car and they change all the time, but there is a whole mythology there.

Anyway, guess I just wanted to tell a story about Aidan. He is, after all, the light of my life.

Did I mention the other night we were lying in my bed and heard Harlan come in the front door and say, “Hello?” I asked, jokingly, “Who do you think that is? Judy? (our landlady) Simon? (her son) Jack? (our cat)?”

“No, Jack doesn’t know how to talk yet,” Aidan said.

“I know who it is,” he continued. “It’s someone who always stands up when he pees.”

I swear, I love that kid so much it’s ridiculous.

Or, as he says, “I love you so much, I just want to hug you and kiss you and hug you and kiss you and hug you and kiss you all night long.”

Negotiations (at my parents' house in California)

My little rascal and me at the beach

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