You know what’s hard to do after you make a big declaration like, “I will write!”? Writing something. I think it’s my state of mind this week. Everything I’ve thought of to write has come from a place of anger or frustration. I get this way from time to time. I wallow; I drag myself down for no apparent reason. I snap out of it after a day or so but I give myself permission to wallow first. It is usually when I do my best fiction writing, but I’ve discovered it might not be when I do my best blogging. Unless I’m wrong and everyone is just waiting on the edge of their seats to hear me whining about my first world problems. No, I’ve decided I’m going to pour all of that first-world angst into my fictional world of folks and not let it soil my pages here. Not today, anyway. Today, I will write about my son because when I am in a funk, he is sun burning off the fog in my brain. His light is pervasive. Even if I tried to hold on to the fog, it would just slip through my fingers, everything replaced by his light. His goofy, wiggly light.
Recently, he has started taking one of the big decorative pillows off of our bed and dragging it into his room at night. He puts it between the soft, chocolate-colored rocking chair and his Au lait Ole’-colored wall and says, “Mama, let’s lay on it togedder!” So we do. It’s not all that comfortable, really, with most of my body on the cold floor, trying to wedge myself into that small space between the chair, the wall and a table full of books that will probably, at some point, fall onto my head. Still, “Let’s lay on it togedder,” is not a request I am willing to turn down because of a hard, cold floor.
We pick out books – me always trying steer him to pick “Where the Wild Things Are” or one of his “Lama Lama” books – which are my favorites, while he almost always picks out “Pooh and the Dragon” or “Gingerbread Baby” – which are his favorites. I always, always let him sucker me in to just one more book, just one more time. He lays his head on my chest and interrupts constantly to say, “Mama, what are dey doin’?” or to repeat something I’ve read. He’s a repeater, that one. Our little parrot. He gasps at parts of the book he decides are interesting? Shocking? I’m not sure really why he does it sometimes, because it is seemingly some inconsequential part of the book to me. To him it is obvious that we are at a crucial point of the story. Pooh is dreaming of dragons eating all of his honey? Gasp! The Gingerbread Baby hopped onto the mama pig’s nose? Gasp!
While we read, he is always moving, always fidgeting so I am constantly having to move my head to see around his to read the story. Although, since we have a few go-to bedtime books, I pretty much know them by memory and can recite the story and flip pages at the appropriate places without missing a beat. Sometimes, he stands up, wrapping his blanket around him “the right way” over and over and I make a mental note to Google “toddlers, OCD” later. (It looks like he’s not, by the way, but he is a quirky, quirky child.)
At some point he wiggles a little less and snuggles a little more. We will lay there, our heads touching, feet pointing in opposite directions and he will turn his forehead until we are nose to nose. I will ask, “Does it look like I have one giant eyeball?” I see that slow grin start, giggles bubbling up in him until they come out in staccato bursts and he will laugh/whisper, “Yeah.” He will put his hand around me, around my neck, his little fingers pulling my hair while we giggle ourselves into hysteria, looking at each other’s one big eyeball like we are monsters.
He gives me big kisses and touches my face with those little hands and I look into those smiling blue eyes and it is magic. When I feel that I am not enough – as a wife or mother or daughter or employee or writer, when I am paranoid that my clothes are wrong or my hair is wrong or I say the wrong things, I am always enough right here in this moment. He, of course, is so much more than enough. He is everything.
I pick him up and put him into bed. I arrange his stuffed animals with his stage direction. “I want Dino here,” he will say. “I want Mickey to be by bear.” I lean over to kiss his red cheeks and he will giggle and hold me there, saying, “keep going” until he decides it’s enough kisses. I tell him I love him and he says, “More dan de whole wide worhl,” because that’s what I’ve told him his whole life. I inch the door closed, the two of us still talking. “Sweet dreams.” “Sweet dreams, mama. Close de door so de dogs not can come in. Night night.” And then as soon as I close the door, he yells for another kiss so we do it all over again.
It is something I would capture on film if it wouldn’t, ironically, ruin the moment so that when he is a teenager and I can’t tuck him in anymore, I could watch and remember, really remember. I drift off to the living room to do some work or watch TV or pretend I am going to clean something or some other mundane thing. But that’s okay. Because I get 30 minutes of magic every night at bedtime.