Monday, June 18, 2012

The Napping House

In a tiny stretch of walkway from the family room to the living room, I realized just now as I flung the blanket off my lap from my nap time tradition of coffee and good book, that this is really the last day in my Cincinnati home with my three-year-old and my one-year-old fast asleep in their bedrooms.

Tomorrow, as everything we own gets packed up, we will be on our way to the next chapter.  New routines, new traditions, new city, new house, new life.

In two years, we will come back to this old place as new people.  A five-year-old, a three-year-old.  And who will be napping?  Maybe someone new?

Two years.  Not so long.  But long enough that I feel the ache of nostalgia as I wave goodbye.  Because it’s not really the house that is missed, but the life that is lived here right now, at this moment in time, when I am surrounded by the soft cheeks of my two little boys, who are growing, growing, growing, fast, fast, fast.

But it’s just a twinge.  And it will pass.  Only a moment to think while everyone is quiet.  When the noise begins again, there will be no time to be sad about the end, only full throttle concentration on what’s happening and what’s beginning.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Screams in the Night

At 1:30 a.m. last night, I heard children screaming and playing outside.  It was hard to hear above the fast whir of the ceiling fan and the attic fan in the hallway rumbling through the house, so I kept on snoozing, not really paying attention to why they were out so late in the street.  And then as I came to a bit more, I recognized that what I thought was playful screaming, sounded more like frantic cries for help coming from the street below.  There were children outside who needed help, and it finally occurred to me that I needed to help them.  I bolted out of bed and started heading down the hallway for the stairs when I realized that the child who was screaming frantically in need of help was in my house at the end of the hall.  When I threw open his door, there was Finny lying in bed, kicking at his sheets, screaming and panicked.

“There’s a snake in my bed!  THERE’S A SNAKE IN MY BEEEEEEDDD!”

When I scooped him up, he was shaking from head to toe.  I turned on the lights and I flipped back his sheets.  No snakes.  I got down on all fours and I flipped up the bedskirt.  No snakes.

“It was just a bad dream, Finn.  No snakes can get into our house.”

But as we walked down the hall hand-in-hand to our bedroom dragging his blankie and teddy, he said, “I hope that snake doesn’t get my baby.”

And despite the fact that I know rationally and reasonably that he had had a bad dream, that there had never been a snake, I still had terrifying visions of finding Charlie in the morning strangled in black coils.


Finny’s imagination is one of the greatest pleasures of my day.  It is constant and delightful and it takes us places everyday that bring us out of the confines of our brick and mortar.

I have been Kitty Softpaws (the heroine of Puss in Boots) for three days in a row now.  If I ever fail to address Finny as Puss, he gently and sometimes not so gently reminds me that he is Puss and that we are still playing the game.  On Wednesday morning, I opened the door to his room to get him up and there he was kneeling on his bed in the dark, whispering, “Kitty Softpaws, come here.  I have something in my hand.”

As I approached, he held out his clenched fist and said, “Open it.”

When I opened his little fingers, he looked deep into my eyes and with a gleam and a smile, purred, “It’s the magic beans.”  And so our day began.  I knew my role.  I had gotten my cue.  And we were off in search of the perfect spot to plant our beanstalk.

Charlie had been assigned the role of Humpty Alexander Dumpty, and after breakfast when I was yelling at Charlie to get down off the kitchen table, which he is now fond of climbing up on, Finny’s concern for Charlie was clear, “Yes, Kitty, get Humpty down, or else he might crack.”

Some days I’m Serabi from The Lion King.  Other days I’m Shanti from The Jungle Book and David is Baloo the Bear. 

Mommy, today we are playing Fire-Breathing Dragons.  Mommy, today we are playing Hippopotamuses Eat Mice.  Mommy, today we are playing Octopuses Eat Jellyfish.

Finny’s imagination is captivating and I enjoy the days he has planned for us.  Two sticks at the park become boyfriend and girlfriend.  The playground is a pirate ship.  His bread crust is a bridge for an army of grapes.  And at any moment, his fingers can become spider legs and crawl across the table.

His narrative is always writing new chapters so I should not be surprised when it follows him into his dreams and awakens there looking real and terrifying in the shape of a cobra in his bed.

All I can do is be there for him to remind him of what’s real and what’s imagined when the nightmares come. 

And then say a prayer and convince myself that I’m right.  That snakes can’t get into our house…not even through the air ducts…nope, not possible…