The doorbell rang at 8:00 am. In a chilly drizzling rain huddled outside on the porch stood my son's four-year-old baby boy and his mother. They were freezing. Black ice, vehicles in the ditch and a walk to my house a short distance from where she'd left the car. He missed school, she missed some work, and I unexpectedly ended up spending the rest of the day with my blue-eyed wonder boy.
It was a date to remember.
We learned about B below C.....
It took him ten minutes to master the fine art of dragging and dropping a laptop cursor. I just got frustrated with Thomas Train. He got frustrated because I didn't know all the train names. "What do I know about engines?? I'm just a girl!" and before I could retract that thoughtless sexist statement he laughed, "You're silly, Mimi."
We movied and macaronied.
I'd promised to watch Bumpety Boo with him. I slipped a fast one, disappearing around the corner to finish a chore in the kitchen, thinking he'd be so engrossed in the movie he wouldn't miss me. What a foolish woman I am.
How little I know about men.
I heard the credits roll. The theme song play. The twenty-five minute movie was over. Not a sound from the living room. He must have fallen asleep in front of the TV.
How little I know about men.
"You missed a lot," he stated as I peeked around the corner to find him wide awake and grumpy. No kidding. I missed the whole thing.
"Rewind it, Mimi," he bounced up and down....."We have to watch it again."
"But why, baby boy, you've already seen it," I tried to convince him. "And why didn't you eat your peanut butter sandwich? "
Never in my life have I heard such a beautiful reply.
You won't believe how little I know about men.
Don't blink or you'll miss this. He said...
"I waited for you to get here. I wanted to share it with you."Stop the presses.
A quick sharp painful inhalation and I was down for the humble pie count let me tell ya. I scooped him up in my arms - sticky butter and all - as a tear fell into his cowlicked hair that smelled of innocence and trust.
More than I would ever have again in this lifetime.
For the rest of the afternoon we snuggled under a blanket on the couch, tangled arms and kicking cover legs, giggling at nonsense tumbles and plot lines by a plastic talking car (which he explained in great detail plot by plot by plot by bumpity plot.... "Don't you get it, Mimi?!"), twenty sticky peanut butter fingers later (mine, not his) a warm washcloth to the face and hands (mine, not his) and I was ready for a nap. I'd tried to snooze between car conversations and beep beeps but every time I got close to faking a good old sleep he would take my limp hand and "accidentally" cause it to fall on the side of my face with a smack.
"Oops. Wake up, Mimi."
The child had a point.
No time for sleeping. Let's draw a treasure map.
Mark after criss -cross mark on the bright orange paper, he wanted me to count aloud each one. Start OVER. You missed that one. "You're not very good at that" said the peanut breath boy. No one will ever accuse you of being subtle, I mumbled. I ciphered twenty treasure spots and then some. Where is this island anyway? I asked. "And what's buried in the sand?" He placed his familiar hand on mine to stop my unending questions. Let's go back to seventeen," he said.
Why did those words hurt me so?
He began to count.
"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three....."
You work on your counting, I thought. I'll go back to seventeen.
I hated seventeen. The year. The age. The memory of the year. Your father was full of himself and a cock's eye away from losing everything he'd worked for. I stroked his unruly hair, my blue-eyed boy tediously hunched over a pirate's map drawn carefully with black marker placing the cross marks in the imagination sand. On the floor with an antique cup full of crayons bearing my Papa's name from a lifetime ago.
A cup full of promises kept.
"You missed one, Mimi. That's seventeen I said!" he chimed.
"Yes, baby. Seventeen comes after sixteen."
I don't want to remember that year either. Your dad. How he tried my patience. Did you know somehow then as you twinkled in the stars with your luminary eyes that you'd come to earth one fine day and save his soul? Did you know, baby boy, that you would break my heart today......with one mention of that hellish year, one flash of his face. Your face.
No. Of course you did not know.
I did not know
looking into the trusting curve of your face that I'd feel the strangest sensation... that time had stopped - and some sweet something out of paradise had transformed your tiny frame into that of your father's.
And for one peanut butter afternoon - he was here.
.....his dark brown hair tickling my mommy nose in the night, held tight on the couch of my memory before the wild child grew to be a man - blessing us with an angel child of his own - whose small wiggly frame now lay beside mine on the couch of here and now.
It was you all along.
I feel it.
I know it.
I look at you and try to find something distinguishably different from his. But I cannot. Not a finger. Not a smell. Not a glance.
I have gone to a time before seventeen
before his ragged epiphany in hell
before crayons on the floor and baseball dreams out the shattered window
before "the year" that nearly killed me
One day I'll tell his story. But not today.
I glanced back at the movie rewinding for the second time now and twenty-four years of your father's life flashed before my very eyes. I ached for the moments that sped past, some raked raw with regret; years that should have been less painful for him, years I wish he could retrieve, a life that that should have been met with less aimless struggle - a life that a four-year-old sage with a heart full of simple trust changed. And as I watched the strange backwards movements of the bumpety cats skipping in reverse I had no doubt that this moment - this day - had been divinely and purposefully ordained.
Before seventeen is a fine time.
You're right, baby boy, I missed a lot.
I missed an awful lot.
What posted on Mimi Writes one year ago today? American Idol Review: Never Name Yourself After Food