August 18, 2010
“Play Sesame Street with me!” Zachary entreated Justin’s receding back, as my oldest child decided to take another lap around our house with his DVD player in hand. My youngest did not seem even slightly dejected by Justin’s refusal, and instead trotted eagerly back to his playhouse, where Elmo waited patiently on the potty and Ernie was hanging precariously off his bed, moments away from a second story fall and a guaranteed hip replacement. To be perfectly honest, it’s dinner time, and in most instances I would have let this moment pass as my hands are immersed in chicken guts and both kids are actually entertaining themselves, but this time I just can’t let the opportunity slide. Besides, I’ve surpassed my daily allotment of dark chocolate this afternoon, and the caffeine high has given me an extra energy boost. I wash my hands carefully to dispense with any threat of salmonella, and march determinedly after Justin. Today, by all that’s holy, my kids are going to play house together for seventeen consecutive seconds if it kills me, AND I’m going to catalogue the moment on my digital camera. I dare anyone to try and stop me.
Justin regards me slightly quizzically as I lead him back to the playroom, but he’s used to me forcing him to do things outside of his comfort zone, so he’s really not all that surprised by my actions. I slip the DVD player out of his hands and tell him I’m going to charge it, then settle him next to his brother on the floor, introduce charger and player to one another, and dash for the camera. Most of the time Justin would already have abandoned the endeavor in order to secure his back-up player, but for once he’s remained stationary, and Zachary is beaming. I look down at the peaceful tableau from my vantage point on high, watch Justin disregard Zach’s gaze as he informs his older sibling as to the main players’ names, but I can tell that the lack of eye contact is irrelevant to Zach. Justin is casually twirling Bert in an arc that surely would render any human utterly seasick, but he remains plastered to the floor, hip and shoulder brushing up against my last child’s torso, content.
Zach has dubbed Bert with a new name, “Bert Mommy”, and I watch as his skinny friend bosses Elmo around and tells him to hurry up on the potty. I relieve myself of the necessity of examining how mean Bert Mommy sounds, and instead depress the shutter on my camera, and record their interaction before Zach’s inevitable clamor to “SEE IT!” I notice Justin starting to sidle away from the scene as I lower the instrument, but I am just happy they’ve had this moment together, that they are beginning to have them more frequently, and that they sometimes occur without my maniacal prompting. I am amazed, every single time, at how immensely gratifying it is to simply watch my sons play together, how grateful I am that these moments exist at all. I am aware not all families in our situation are so fortunate.
And as I return to my kitchen and my waiting chicken innards, I first stop for one last hit of chocolate, because if this doesn’t warrant celebration and the support of my cocoa addiction, I don’t know what does.