children pick up dolls and start to play while i pull bed sheets tight across twin mattresses.
“let’s make this bed, please.”
someone totters over to the other side and begins to chant, “tuck. tuck. tuck.”
i am down on my knees and i watch my son’s legs walk past me. it seems all pant legs are near the middle of his shins lately.
i’m moving laundry from one room to another, washing again – drying again – folding again. one daughter is leading the other to the dryer, captured. she opens the front and pushes her in. she shuts the door and holds her prisoner.
her older sister laughs maniacally and answers,
“never! you will never get out! hahahaha!”
i have to step in and be the hero who sets her free, who holds back the evil villain. i help her step out of the small metal circle of the dryer and she smiles at me.
i remember holding that tiny chin down for latching on a new babe.
there is housework. there are crumbs on this floor. they are plotting how to trap the cat.
i hear them on the steps while i get dinner ready.
they have plans to find her under the bed, they will surround her and put her in a box. but the cat is wise. she’s played this game before, i doubt they will find her.
the things to do and the things being done are two different worlds sometimes. children pull at me to be. to just be with them in their pursuits. i’ve things to do that don’t resemble their play.
but how quickly they don’t resemble themselves.
the ones i held. the ones they were last month, last year.
i remember a good friend asking everyone in the room, “who are the loneliest people around you? maybe it’s your neighbors – maybe it’s your kids.”
and i thought yes. the child’s world where magic tricks can consume whole days and flashlights can create entire new worlds with a single beam of light, that can be a lonely place.
i’m willing today.
i’m willing to watch, five, okay maybe four, failed magic tricks.
i’m willing to protect the cat from bad guys who want to find her.
i’m willing to sit and watch a fashion show.
it won’t only be my plans for the day. i will watch the changing faces and kiss the tiny kisses and stop the arguments and make the beds together again.
repost from the archives