Shameless Lovefest Here
He’s so wistful, so heady with sentiment, it’s like we’re reuniting at baggage claim after a long, painful separation. When I knelt to give him a quickie hug of thanks yesterday for cleaning up his Jenga blocks so proficiently, he fell into me, his body like a short tower giving way. “I want to keep you forever Mama; squeeze me now,” he instructed.
I feel like I’m in some silver screen classic with a Warhol-ian twist. The plot: a very small, besotted person appears regularly confessing his adoration for the stained and unwashed housewife.
“I love you to Brazil and back, Mama. I love you all the way to New Zealand and back.” Col says, exercising his charming, if not slightly mixed up geography. Last week he asked me about “that river in Denver, that one called the Missy-Ippy.”
“Yeah, that one. Have you ever been there?”
“Well, it’s not in Denver sweetie, it’s a long, wide river east of here, and no, I’ve never been there.”
“I don’t think so.”
“Have me and Rosie been there?”
And about ten times a day, I am knocked out cold by what a boy he has become. The smallest chisel has been chipping away at his baby cheeks, excavating the gorgeous bone structure of his face. His blonde hair, once manufactured only in fishing line-width, is thickening, flipping into a soft curl as it hits his neck. There he is in his sporty hand-me-downs, poring over his Encyclopedia of Nature, lingering on the shorebird page and explaining to me that seagulls tuck their legs in while flying, whereas “pelicans fly with their legs sticking out. That’s how you can tell the difference Mama.”
And it’s not that he’s correct this time or even much of the time (he told Rosie recently “taxis are cars that don’t have windshields. “Oh,” she said, understanding completely). It’s that little neural pathways are being worn like our favorite trails in the mountains, and they keep leading him back to the very things that Dan and I hold dear. Wild animals, plants, hunting, books, archery, the garden, this place.
And Rose? It’s hard sometimes to remember that Rose is making her own way through the world as an individual. Sometimes it seems she is just auditioning for the ever-evolving role of Col’s sister. And really at 2 ½ she’s so accommodating and competent, I sometimes forget about her; she uses the potty, pulls on her own socks and gobbles my homemade baba ganoush flecked with icky eggplant skin. Dan was suggesting last night that while Col takes swimming lessons next month, Rose should actually be in lessons too because she deserves to learn how to swim. Oh yeah. Sometimes it seems like Rose will just absorb swimming know-how, the way she’s quietly learned everything else she knows.
Rose is a peach; her mind is still filled with butterflies and sunshine. Her smile flashes like the after-dark landing strip at our small hometown airport, guiding me down to the place I love like my own heart. When she spots me after rising from a nap, she runs towards me—a bashful look on her face like: gosh, how long did I sleep?—and sinks into my arms. If this were a DVD, I’d rewind and play that scene all day long. Once when she was five months old I complained to a friend that Rose bit my tongue. “What was your tongue doing in her mouth?” She asked. “We were kissing,” I shrugged. And I often wonder as I’m squeezing her plush bottom, or planting smooches on her dollish nose, or nibbling her playdoh-smooth skin from the neck down, when she’ll put up the “no trespassing” sign.
And for all the late-night, head-scratching councils we’ve had on Col, Rose just seems so, well…comical and sweet. Most of the time she’s got her ducky stuffed up her shirt (which is on backwards), is baubled and sparkling, and barking at Col: “Okay Coley, now you give me the medicine and I’ll tell you if I have to frow up.”
Sometimes the thickness, the gooeyness of this love is like the first beer after a backpacking trip, or sliding into the hot springs in winter; I think you know what I’m talking about.