I’ve been outside for nearly an hour trying to read, but Mother Nature won’t allow it. She persuades the birds to chirp louder and the breeze to blow harder. Under the shade of my maple tree it’s getting too chilly to concentrate and I get up to warm my legs in the sun. Just like when I was little, I let the driveway burn the soles of my feet a little before jumping back into the cool thick grass.
Once I’m back, comfortable in my chair, another distraction in the shape of a precarious 5-year-old emerges from the house. My son slumps across from me in the lawn chair I was using to rest my legs. He eats his peanut butter and jelly sandwich straight down the middle. Smears of brown and purple collect on the sides of his mouth. A fly lands on the sandwich and he considers this for a moment and says, “Mom, I think Nature is coming to visit.”
The sentence makes me smile and marvel at this tiny man. Where does it come from? The way he speaks, sometimes, he’s so aware. I always joke that he has his fathers good looks and his mothers sparkling personality, but I don’t think I was nearly as insightful at 20 as he is at 5!
After he’s finished his sandwich, he still sits with me. I think he’s enjoying the warm sun that sneaks past the maples leaves and dots his dirty face. He smiles into it, and asks more questions. So many questions! “Why do you paint your toes?”
“Why don’t we live by the ocean?”
“Why don’t some people have babies?”
“Will you have another baby?”
And when I answer, I try to give reasonable thoughtful answers. I can see him storing these new bits of knowledge in special spots. I know he’ll dig them up later when more information is needed. Then, he tells me all about the house he’s going to build when he grows up.
“I’m going to live in Garbriator Woods and you can come visit me whenever you want and we’ll sit outside and have picnics and I want…”
Tommy stops mid-sentence to watch 2 little girls in matching pink and green bathing suits ride by on their bikes.
“…a fireplace to roast marshmallows.” he continues once they’re out of sight.
Eventually he grows tired of sitting with dear old Mom and runs off to have tiny adventures. I can hear the squeak of a tricycle he’s far too big for crying down the sidewalk. He tries to make the corner on two wheels, and miraculously does! Though the next time, he topples over. No tears, though. He gets up and tries it a few more times before moving on to bigger and dirtier things.
My attention has been almost fully on my reading and I jump when Tommy thrusts his dirty fist between me and my book. Oh those dirty hands and black fingernails, grass-stained knees, and sweaty forehead. He smells just like the disheveled little boy that he is. But it’s a smell I love. Nature and freedom; adventures and worms. Worms? Oh Gawd he’s dangling a worm in front of me! “This is my friend!” Good. Please take your friend back to his house.
Throughout the afternoon he brings me more than just worms; Rolly Pollies and mysterious berries and misshapen twigs that he insists we recycle. “See Mom, this one can be used to smack away any ants that try to climb on your legs. And this one is to stab any tarantulas that try to scare you.” I assure him if I see any tarantulas I WILL be using his stick to stab at them! He also shyly hands me white dandelions. “Here’s some beautiful flowers for you, Mom.” I tell him they mean more to me than 1000 red Roses and I mean it.
It’s getting later in the afternoon and I know the little girl will be waking from her nap soon. Before heading in I watch my son play. He’s concentrating on the task at hand, which is getting his army men to slide down my tulips and into a tiny trench he’s dug. I love this boy so stinking much; I just want to run over there and wrap him in my arms forever. Suddenly he turns and looks at me and smiles the most precious smile. He begins running back to me and I wonder if he wasn’t just thinking, “I love Mom so much I’m gonna wrap her in my arms forever.” I jump out of my chair, kneel, and open my arms. I’m going to catch him and love him and never ever forget how wonderfully warm and perfect he is today. He runs faster and faster, so I brace myself for his weight. But then right as he gets to me he stops.
Sits on my lap.
And then jumps up laughing so hard he starts to cry. “Mom can you believe I did that?” he barely gasps.
I can’t help but laugh too. Little brat! “Now get inside and get your clean!” I call, but he’s already off on another adventure. So I let him. Summer will be over far too soon and so will afternoons like this. But not the farting. I’m pretty sure he’ll keep farting on me long after he’s won his Pulitzer!
Thanks for reading!