My little boy turns two tomorrow. And I can’t call him a baby anymore, now that he’s sleeping in a real bed (well, actually, my twin-sized futon from when I first moved to Chicago) and saying things like tattoo (I showed him pictures from a tattoo convention online yesterday). He got on the phone with my sister and proudly told her he was going to be eight on his birthday because he got that number, which is his bedtime, mixed up with his age.

He can say so many things now. Show him the alphabet and he can pick out individual letters if you ask him to, most of the time. He likes the color blue, he follows directions and he says “No, no, no” a lot, because he has started repeating many of the things I say, and apparently I tell him “no” quite a lot. He used to say “Ow” when he was copying the cats, but this week he’s started saying “Meow.” Last week he started saying “Daddy” instead of “Da-da.”

It won’t be long before he’s grown up, working, riding the el by himself, drinking, going to college, getting married, having children and calling me once a month while I console myself with baby pictures. I have always felt very strongly that kids ought to be independent when they get older, and have shaken my head whenever I hear about parents being clingy and overprotective. But I have to admit that now that I’m faced with the reality of my child growing up (yes, I know he’s only 2!) I can understand why parents want to hold on to their kids for just…a little bit…longer.

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I’m taking him to the Brookfield Zoo for a birthday surprise. He’s going to be one of the first kids to experience Stingray Bay, where people get to touch the southern and cownose stingrays while they’re swimming around. He’ll be on TV, because we’re going to be background during a CBS weather broadcast shot on location. So if you’re in Chicago, and up between 5 and 7 p.m., turn on Channel 2 and see if you can catch a glimpse of us.

Then we’ll have his birthday party on Saturday, with about 20 of our friends and family. It’s themed for the Wiggles, which is his favorite singing group/TV show. He’s obssessed with them–he’ll wake up in the middle of the night sometimes saying “Wiggle!” On Monday, we’ll go to Six Flags Great America where the Wiggles just happen to be putting on an appearance in order to celebrate the opening of the new Wiggles-themed play area. This is going to be a fun weekend for him. I can’t wait to see the look on his face when he realizes he’s seeing the Wiggles live.

He may be a little boy now, but he will always be my baby.