On Saturday, Robert turned five, which is a big deal for a boy. Five means you can show people your age without holding any fingers back. Five is when things start to take shape. Five takes questions from the empirical ("Daddy, who invented hubcaps?") to the philosophic ("Daddy, will time go on forever?"). Five means kindergarten, where kids and their loopy ideas spend five days a week intermixing with other kids and their loopy ideas. Five means getting a skunk-eye from the grumpy bus driver when you try to ride for free to Nana's house. Five is the onset of full-throttle boyhood, and its sudden differentness from girlhood.
Five means you can declare that your birthday party must be Boys Only, and that its central theme must involve "vehicles." Five means everything has to be fastfastfast, hurling itself through space or around a track or down the stairs, often at "944 thousand 900 million miles per hour." Girls obviously just can't keep up, because they're too crazy about "princesses and clothes and junk." Five means RPMs and ovaries just do not mix. (Which is why five should meet Danica Patrick.)
And after you exclude all of your best girl-friends from your birthday party, five means not feeling the slightest bit awkward when you run into one on the way to the party. The same girl who invited you to her party six weeks ago, who fed you cake and let you jump on her bed and held your hand while you watched the Shrek DVD. Five will make small talk as if nothing is awry and then announce that he is going to his party and sorry, but girls can't go and that's the rule. (In that regard, five is lucky that his friend's mom is so cool.)
Five means taking all your best boy buddies to the Transit Museum and running in and around and through all the subway trains, communing with ghosts who wore fedoras and read about the war and wondered if the Dow would ever break 100. Five means lots of gifts with wheels on them, including some mostly generic Lego sets that inspire you to make "race cars that are completely awesome!" And five means sizing up a lesser gift (a remote-control car that is really isn't all that remote because the control is attached to the car by an eight-inch wire) and re-gifting it to your ecstatic little brother.
And when you tuck him in at night, five will tell you that this was the best day ever, and that you are the best daddy in the world. Which is why five will make you feel as alive and loved as you've ever felt.