and then he shot me through the heart

This, O World, is my little boy. Blue eyes, jutting chin, scratched up and bleeding. He’s tough as nails and cuddly as a kitten.

Some people have wondered out loud to me if he ever stops smiling. The answer is yes, of course, but it’s true he’s a sunny child, eager to please and quick to forgive.

He’s lavish with his love, too. “Mama,” he said one day, “Can you shoot me through the heart with a bow and arrow?”

“Why?” I asked.

“So I can be in love with you.”

Other things about him:

*Math is his passion. He thuds down the stairs in the morning, snuffly-nosed and rosy-cheeked from a hearty night of sleep, his comforter wrapped around his shoulders, and announces, “I’m ready for my math lesson!” He delights in puzzling over numbers and patterns. He keeps track of what chapter we’re on in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and he makes sure I say the actual number before I launch into the story.

*Spiders make him scream. It’s not just an excited, oh-no-there’s-a-spider scream, but a true blue cry of pure terror and panic.

*When we went to the post office and the postmistress forgot to offer the kids a lollipop (and I didn’t let them remind her), he sobbed for a good three minutes. Anguished, he was.

*For a little while there, he took up swearing. He was actually pretty good at it, but let me tell you, there’s nothing quite as disconcerting as hearing a little six-year-old chirrup, “What the hell!” He practiced his new phrase at a friend’s house (twice) until the mother sternly explained to him, In our house we don’t talk like that. (Rest assured, we’ve worked with him on appropriate language. He’s no longer, I hope, a bad influence on his peers.)

*The best way to keep him from flailing about during the church service is to rub his back. He hikes his shirt up to his chest and throws his body across my lap, and I run my fingers up and down his back and serenely listen to the service. Or I would get to listen to the service if he didn’t interrupt me every ten seconds to tell me to scratch harder, or to scratch harder with one finger, or to scratch harder with one finger on his left hip bone. It can get tricky. And it gets even trickier when he asks me to rub his scalp, because instead of asking me to rub his scalp, he stage whispers, “Pretend to look for lice in my hair.” It’s kind of hard to look serene and holy when you’re pretend-picking lice out of your kid’s hair.

*He has two speeds: fast and really fast. At the zoo, he never walked from exhibit to exhibit—he ran. Immediately after getting his IV out (after his surgery) and receiving a lecture on Taking It Easy, he sprinted to the bathroom. In bed at night after a full day of life, he flops about vigorously until a switch gets flipped, and BAM, he’s sound asleep.

This same time, years previous: mint wedding cakebanana cake with creamy peanut butter frosting


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