October 23rd, 2008
Frost on the grass. On windshield glass. Temperature holding at cold. The low thirties. Little Man made his appearance at 6:45 this morning. S.B. was getting ready for work. I had finished up morning chores, was sipping coffee, and scanning the headlines. More doom and gloom. More ignorance. Stupidity. The kind that makes you wonder if this world will ever right itself. If we will be able to maintain the good that keeps the world in order.
"Good morning, buddy!" I said to Little Man.
"Morning honey!" S.B. shouted to him from the bathroom.
He rubbed his eyes. Dragged his stuffed puppy across the living room. Yawned. Hung his head low.
"Peanut butter toast," he said, not even looking up at me.
"Anything to drink?" I asked.
He climbed up into a chair at the kitchen table. Threw the puppy across the room. I bit my tongue. It was too early for lessons. To remind him not to throw things. It was obvious this was going to be a slow-to-wake morning.
"Peanut butter toast!"
"I'm working on it, buddy."
I had the bread in the toaster. Was getting out the peanut butter, a plate, and a knife.
I got the milk filled his little cup halfway. Walked over and handed it to him.
"No! Milk in cereal!"
The toast popped up.
"I'm sorry, but no. The toast is done. Look," I said, pointing to the toaster.
"No, milk! Milk all done!"
I put the cup into the refrigerator. Slathered enough peanut butter on the toast to keep him quiet for at least two minutes. I stood there drinking my coffee. Scanning more headlines. Watching him. The peanut butter was everywhere. On his fingers, his face. Even on his nose. I peeled a paper towel off the roll and handed it to him. He pulled away from me. Began to whine.
"I know, I know," I said. "You aren't going to want this now because it wasn't your idea, but you're going to need it before too long."
"No paper towel!" he shouted and shoved it away.
I went back to my coffee. Prayed for good news on the next page of the Free Press. No such luck.
S.B. came into the room smiling. She looked well-rested. Bright-eyed. It brought a rush of warmth up from my belly and made me smile.
Little Man's face lit up.
"Hi, Mommy!" he cheered.
"Hi, sweetie! You're not giving Daddy a hard time are you?"
He turned and gave me the stink-eye. Peanut butter was on his forehead. I smiled at him. He turned away. Smiled at Mommy.
"No," he said. "Good boy, Momma."
"I sure hope so," S.B. said.
She sat down to eat. I peeked over the top of the paper. Little Man reached for the napkin. Pulled it toward him slowly. Looked at me to make sure I wasn't watching. Wiped his mouth quickly, then shoved the paper towel away.
And even though I'm remaining positive. Biting my tongue. I know that today might be a challenge. But hey, that's what I signed on for. That's why I'm here. Anyone who thinks they are in it for only the fun of it, for all the sweet sloppy kisses and hugs that a kid can muster, is mistaken. You must be able to take the good as well as the bad. Kids aren't rotten. It's only how we treat them. And sometimes they just have bad days. So today, I'm treating him like I would want to be treated. If I woke up rubbing my eyes, tired as hell, dragging myself into the kitchen for another cheery morning.
We got changed into a fresh diaper. Into our big boy clothes. Got Mommy off to work. And right now, he's four pillows deep into a spooky Scooby-Doo adventure. Watching the movie in our bedroom. Laughing, giggling, talking to Scooby and Shaggy as they blunder through another mystery. And it's one of the best sounds in a world.
A little boy. Just laughing.
Not caring much about frost on the grass. Morning chores. That the temperature is holding steady. Near thirty. He's made his appearance. Got hugs and kisses. Peanut butter on toast. And aside from the spookiness of Scooby's Adventure, he is not concerned with headlines, doom and gloom, all of the ignorance and stupidity that we adults perpetuate and replicate. Day after day. Into this world. And as I hear him across the hallway, big belly-laughs rising, I believe that we have a chance. That we will right ourselves. That there will always be good in this world.
(copyright © 2008 by K.J. Stevens)