[This is a repost of something I wrote in the summer of ’04 before my son sprouted up to my chest and moved into bunk beds and we stopped reading baby books in favor of Harry Potter every night. I repost this to remind myself that he’s still a little boy of eight and although willful, he never asked to be an only child of a stressed out single mom and the next time I have the urge to fling his unwanted pasta across the kitchen I need to go sit in that big red chair and just breathe and remember that I love him no matter what.]
We sit on the aging back porch together, my son and I. Curled in our fading red chairs that envelope us like padded cereal bowls. I, with my I-pod, singing softly to Sarah McLachlan and Lucas listening to Schoolhouse Rocks on my old discman with the headphones on backwards — reliving the music I grew up with and swinging his feet to and fro, trying to sing along with words unfamiliar to him.
The thick July air is warm and the gurgling noises from the air conditioner in his bedroom window next to the porch prompts him to announce it must be raining even though he can’t see it. I have to explain twice the source of the noise until he investigates for himself. Satisfied he replaces his headphones and resumes his singing.
The day turns into the gloaming, that hazy period just before dusk settles on our little porch and it is time for my little man to go to bed. He doesn’t put up a fight. His breathing is labored as it has been all day and I try not to betray my concern. He takes his medicine like a trooper, so accustomed to the struggle to breathe. I think about the air today and wonder if the pollen count was high or if the air conditioning was too much for him or if, God forbid, he’s coming down with pneumonia again.
His choice of bedtime movies surprises me as he picks out “Goodnight Moon”, knowing I’ve read the book to him but haven’t seen the DVD. I like it. Faith Ringgold reads a story about “Tar Beach” and I sing along to Twinkle, Twinkle and Brahm’s Lullaby. We hold hands and I listen to his wheezing chest.
When the movie is over I turn off the television and turn to him. He kisses me on the mouth and says “Goodnight mush”. I answer the same and we go on naming all the objects the bunny says goodnight to and rubbing noses and kissing each others’ faces. I ask him if he wants to snuggle and he rolls over, throwing his tan leg across the mesh safety railing. He pulls my arm around him and his breathing calms quickly. I lie there in perfect stillness. All of the tiny irritations of the day erased by this one perfect moment in time. Eventually I get up and know that I must write it down for the next time I step on an errant toy or find that the dog has eaten his forgotten plate of food.