We have a conspiracy in our family that’s bigger than the bunny, more fantastical than the fairy, practically more sacrosanct than that chimney sweep who wears red.

It’s all about the Pig.

Henry and his stuffed “Piggy” are a duo. You don’t often find one without the other. If Piggy is missing, our family goes on red alert until she is found. Piggy comforts Henry like none of us can. Sometimes, she even speaks on his behalf. Piggy is Henry’s best friend and champion.

Henry is long past the age my other kids were when I told them about the origins of bacon. And even though it’s something Henry should be told, I haven’t told him and I actively discourage others from telling him, too.  I reason that he will be upset to learn that the fork he holds in one hand is spearing, in a figurative sense, the friend he holds in the other. I rationalize that telling him will only spark more battles at the dinner table.

On inspecting my motives for keeping the Secret of the Pork, I recognize the truth: I want to preserve his innocence. Because Henry is my baby. He is my previously unlooked for miracle-child; the one whose due date was December 25. He is the last of my brood.

Almost without my perceiving it, he has become a pre-schooler. Not only does he now expertly articulate his immediate needs; he also makes surprising observations about his world. His little body hums with energy and curiosity. He grasps the seeds of his independence firmly and with purpose as he pushes the boundaries I set for him.

I never thought I would feel this way. the kidsFrom their births, I pushed my kids to move on to the next phase, stage, year. I wanted them older because that meant they’d be easier for me to manage. I wanted a diaper-less, stroller-less, high-chair free world. And finally, I have it. Except now, like many others, I want time to freeze.

I can’t stop time. But I can delay the inevitable by keeping this one, small secret.