Sunday, September 18, 2011

What I Want


I eat my granola-yogurt-mango breakfast while I mentally plan my day, half-listening to the podcast in my ear buds. I eat quickly so I can start on my morning chores while the kids are still eating, and therefore, still contained.

My son’s question pushes aside the list, for now anyway.
“Can we talk about airplanes?”

I push “pause” and pull out the buds. Evan is 3 and he asks this question every morning when I’m half-doing a half-dozen other things.

I rack my brain for things to mention today.

“Yeah, sure, did you know Daddy is flying today? I wonder where he’s going and what airplane he’s flying.”

That keeps him busy for a minute as he talks about Daddy going to the airport, and taking off from the runway.

Other mornings, we’ve talked about airplanes that land on the water, and about small airplanes and big airplanes and about the times Evan has ridden on the airplane, and about anything else I can possibly think of related to airplanes. I give him everything I’ve got and it usually takes about 10 seconds. I’m glad he gets more with his daddy’s nightly dinner-time tales of the day’s flying.

When I stand to water the plants as the kids finish their breakfast on our outside table, Evan asks if we can play a game.

“Yes, of course,” I say and push the list aside.

The rules are easy and I catch on quickly. It goes like this. Evan hands the number/letter magnets to me, one by one when I correctly answer his question, “What do you want?”

“The red S,” I say and he hands it over. “The two fives. The blue 7. The green Q.”

There are no wrong answers and I always get what I want. Then it’s his turn. He asks and I give it to him until they are gone and we continue back and forth, asking each other what we want, and listening to the answers.

The half hour or so of the game goes quickly, though it slightly complicates when 1-year-old Renea wants to play. She follows the rules at first, reaching her hand out to receive the letters and numbers, then giving them right back. But then she decides she’d rather eat them, or put them in the watering can, or throw them on the ground and then eat them again.

I gently suggest that it’s time for me to water my plants and I plan to hurry through the chores as the clock ticks past my list. I fill the watering can and Evan grabs onto it with me, and we slowly water together, providing nourishment for plants and people.

I think about Evan’s question while I slow myself to match his stride.

“What do you want?”

Sometimes I wish I could get the list done. Other times I wouldn’t mind a shower that lasts longer than three minutes. Most days, I’d settle for some privacy to use the bathroom.

But really, this--this life of airplanes and kids and plants and letters—that’s what I want. And amazingly, that’s what I get.

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