We collided in the bathroom, he and I, both blurry-eyed, jagged-haired, warm and smelling of sleep.
“When are we going to go into your bedroom with my brothers and say ‘happy birthday’?”
“Any minute now.”
He gave me a bashful smile. Seven years old. So big… 😉
And he stood before the mirror and gasped.
With genuine surprise.
“Mummy… I’m taller!”
We waited in line for school to begin.
He followed the number-snake, twisting through the playground, hollering the numbers as he galloped towards playgroup.
“…twenty-eight, twenty-nine, THIRTY!” he shouted as he landed on the snake’s head.
“What rhymes with thirty, Bertie?” I enquired innocently.
(Can you see what I did there?)
He gave it a moment’s thought, before yelling…
He came out of playgroup as full o’ beans as he went in, Tiggered all the way home, and collapsed on the sofa.
“Can I watch a film?”
A Disney (almost unavoidable), the music began, opening credits rolled and the fairytale castle appeared.
As I walked away, his little voice announced, laden with excitement:
“Sit down, be quiet and smile nicely.
Pass me that box over there, the one containing your autonomy. I’ll have that.
And that one, the one that contains your thoughts. I’ll have that, too.
We’ll just junk that one, the one labelled ‘feelings’. You don’t need them.
I can think, feel and act for you, hmm?
Now. Say, “Thank you”.”
The auction house on Thursday afternoon. Some time after school.
Filing through a narrow passageway between piles of jumbled furniture, our family crocodile must have seemed to go on forever.
Son after son after son squeezed through.
Smiling benignly, a silver-haired lady, rather well-to-do in appearance, was moved to ask as I wheeled the pushchair by:
“Did you want boys?”
We stood in the playground before school; his head, now past my shoulder, tilted up to my face.
“Do you think kisses can get through woolly hats?”
His look was penetrating, testing, hopeful, innocent – all mixed up into one searching gaze.
“Sweetheart, I think kisses can get through iron bars as long as the love behind them is strong enough.”
This morning; breakfast time:
“So, with reincarnation, you have to come back again and again, until you’re perfect?”
“That’s right. The idea is that you get ‘better and better’… you know… more compassionate, kinder, more loving, until eventually you are a perfect human being. But it can take many lifetimes.”
“I think I’ll do it this time. It’ll be easier.”