I’ve spent the past 11 hours hanging with my kiddo: homework and eating waffles at the coffee shop, warming up lunches, engaging in a “conversation for play” about the “tricks for touching boa constrictor” and the “tricks for getting yourself killed by a boa constricted” (turns out these “tricks” are direct opposites), cooking dinner, watching The Incredibles (again), hosting an ice cream cone topped with a thin mint & strawberry birthday for his stuffed fox named Sweetheart (who makes kissing noises when you press its tummy). And now he’s taking his first bath of the week. And all I want to do is listen to Joan Baez’ Diamonds & Rust and sit on the floor alone and stare into the spaces between the shelves and the cracks in tongue-in-groove hardwood floors and maybe scratch out a line or two about this one time I played this record and this thing happened that feels relevant and accessible tonight but… he’s feeling lonely and keeps calling out for me to read him a book. While he’s in the tub. Side A, Track One. I go into the candle lit bathroom and stall.
“Ten minutes,” I say, “then I’ll read to you.”
I resettle into my spot on the living room floor next to the turntable. Baez sings,
You’ve had to hide sometimes, but now you’re all right
And it’s good to see your smiling face tonight
and I want her to be singing those words to herself and I wish my mom was here singing with me and not thousands of miles away on a tiny island surrounded by the sea because it’s her birthday.
The fade starts and my words start to connect to my senses and memories and there is rattle and jangle as my roommate unlocks the front door. Third song starts and my son starts calling out again, high-pitched in his pleas, begging.
I read him Runaway Bunny, a short book about a little bunny who wants to run away but no matter what he imagines, his mother finds a way to follow and find and direct him.
“That’s my favorite,” he tells me, when I turn the page to the little bunny as a sailboat, his mama bunny as the wind.
“Because his ears are so funny when they pop into sails?” I ask.
“Yeah, and because it’s so cute. And the mama bunny is the most beautiful, with her ears back, and her eyes, and her fluffy tail.” His voice is that slow and deep sing-song voice kids get when they remember something as sad. He looks harder, focuses his eyes into something I can’t see.
“She’s like a cloud though, and wind doesn’t come from the clouds.”