Right now I’m watching my son pull his baby sister into his lap. He’s opening a picture book and reading the words far too simple for him to struggle over, words that read, “Where is Spot? Is he in the basket?” She is kicking her little feet, half-interested in the colors and the sounds her big brother is presenting to her, half-interested in the microscopic ball of fuzz two feet away, torn between staying in his embrace and crawling to get a closer look, and maybe a taste, if I don’t catch her fast enough.
The fuzz wins out, and she’s squirming to get out of his grasp, so Bug gives up and announces that he is going to work on his handwriting, but can he watch some TV first?, and look how loose this tooth is!
Bean loses interest in the fuzz when I pull it out of her mouth, and finds a scrap of paper to munch on, and then a sock, and then a forgotten gift card, holding onto the little plastic rectangle as she roams around the playroom. She finds and re-finds things that interest her, holding them up to me like an offering before deciding she’d rather keep them.
Big Brother forgets he has homework, so he leaves the room to retrieve his backpack, and Bean races toward the door as fast as her little knees can carry her, hoping to escape before he closes it on her, giggling and squealing as if she can taste freedom. But she doesn’t make it, and gets distracted by the shiny brass hinges connecting the door to its frame. Every now and then, she makes her way to where I sit, pulls up on my knees, raising her hands in need for me. I eagerly oblige, and she gives me a snotty, open-mouthed kiss before shoving her sticky fingers in my mouth, trying to feel my teeth before I can turn my head away. And then she’s spotted something else, or her quota for sitting still has been met, so she squirms to get back onto the carpet, where she can wander freely.
Brother is back, notebook in hand, and decides to write a letter to his teacher, thanking her “for all her hard work,” because this week is Teacher Appreciation Week. He tells her she rocks, thanks her for teaching him so well, signs it, “Your Friend,” and then asks if he can give her his pen shaped like a fighter jet, because she loves pens.
And then he notices his sister dancing to the tinny music coming from her Heffalump rocker, looking especially adorable, so he drops to the floor and showers her with kisses, trying again and again to pull her into his lap, but she isn’t interested because her stillness quota is still full, so she complains the only way she knows how, by screeching and kicking. He switches tactics and makes funny faces and noises at her, which delights her to no end, her laughter uncontrolled and uninhibited, overwhelming her little body, her face turning red, her laughter losing sound and she’s shaking silently until she can catch her breath.
And Bug is off again because he’s forgotten a pencil for his math homework, and needs an envelope to seal his letter to his teacher in, and Bean calls for him from underneath the desk, but he is back before she can miss him.
And this is all happening in one small room in our house, inside the space of one half hour of our entire day, my children existing beside one another, sometimes interacting, sometimes orbiting separately, stopping what they are doing every so often to kiss each other or laugh at one another, Bug looking up from his math worksheet to echo my warning tone when Bean puts something forbidden in her mouth, Bean making her way to where Brother sits, pulling up on his chair to look up at him in expectation and curiosity, Bug hollering, “No, ma’am, no, ma’am!” when she quick-as-a-wink grabs a fistful of his crayons.
Who knew the feel of tiny hands on my knees would be precisely how my heart feels when I look at my children? Who knew watching an eleven-month-old crawl around with a golf ball in each hand would be one of the funniest things I see all day? Who knew that genuine fulfillment looked like a baby girl laying her head on her big brother’s chest while he watches Disney Channel?
Who knew that the celebration of mothers everywhere come this Sunday would be empty without tiny humans like these two?