Monday, June 25, 2007
Sunday Morning Love Labor
Yesterday, my son Chris and his wife participated in a triathlon, and asked if they could come stay at my house--and leave the boys while they were doing the race. I was thrilled.
I wakened at 5am,dressed, and prepared for my morning with my little boys: Coveralls, ( the pockets stuffed with kleenex, Handy Wipes, and my camera ), Tevas for maximal traction on any surface, and a baseball hat. They left my house at 6am for Philadelphia. I went downstairs and set out Ethan's place setting, made the oatmeal, put Edward's spoon in the dish next to his bib...and waited.
The boys, Ethan, 4, and Edward, almost 1, awoke at 7. For five hours, we played. After breakfast, Ethan put on his Sesame Street helmet and rode the tricycle I got for him, while I pushed Edward in the stroller. The whole neighborhood, which consists of about 40 houses flanking the lake, knew that "Grammie" was expecting the grandchildren because I had sent out an SOS for a car seats last week. As we walked along, I was greated by my jogging neighbors or an infrequent neighbor's car passing us, all of whom greeted me with the uncharacteristic "Hi Grammie" as they ran by, smiling at the three of us.
We played on the swings, watched the ducks on the lake, made castles on the beach. Intermittently, I used all the tissues and wipes in my pockets on hands and noses respectively. And the camera. Of course.
While Edward napped, Ethan and I sat in the rocker on the breezeway and read "Little Toot" and "The Little Engine That Could" just like I had read the same books to his father 35 years earlier. As Edward slept, we talked about the red birds at the birdfeeder. We made a new picture for the front door of my apartment in New York, and I drew a freight train to go on the tracks that Ethan had chalked onto the slate out side the back door. "What number do you want on the engine, Ethan," I asked as I finished the wheels in pale blue chalk. "Number 6, Grammie," he answered resolutely. Then a coal car in pale pink, with the connecting coupler drawn in yellow.
Memories flooded back to me during the morning of the satisfying feeling connected with those early years with my own two little boys, almost exactly the same distance apart, and as different in personality and gifts as these two children. And all the multitasking necessary to care successfully with two children rather than one, my love of nurturing, and the gentle nudging needed in the face of sibling rivalry ) that I'd done 30 years ago came back, too. Like riding a bike. The morning went smoothly--and quickly.
I was once again 25 sitting on the floor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, with 3-year-old Chris making Easter cards out of green construction paper, teaching him how to use the rounded scissors, and helping him pen his name to each card, while his brother Ben napped.
Soon, Chris and Jenn returned from the race, medals in their hands. They showered, packed up, buckled up the boys, and waved goodbye from their stationwagon as they pulled out of the driveway.
It's quiet here this morning. The trike is parked in the basement, waiting for what will presumably be next summer for their return for another race--and the boys' time with Grammie.
From the kitchen table, I can see the number "6" still visible on the slate walkway and the long line that marks the pink tracks. It's raining lightly, so the chalk work probably won't hold up long.
But my memory ( and perhaps Ethan's ) will hold up for a lifetime.