arm clutching

Bedtime. That window of blurry, frenzied time between endless games of hockey and an adults only episode of Breaking Bad on Netflix. From the moment we declare the play portion of the evening over and give the command to go upstairs, there is much grousing and belly aching. The tubs themselves go swimmingly (har!), happy giggles abound, squirty toys emptied into each other's faces. We divide and conquer and somehow the littlest one always wants Mommy. He kicks. I threaten to take away his story. He kicks again. I hold him down. The two of them race down the hall and pile onto the living room sofa where they argue about which books we will read. Requests for "Take Garbage Out" from Con can always be counted on. (That's Shel Silverstein's "Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out.") Caroline wants George because she knows she can bamboozle me into reading more than one in the anthology. Protests come when the stories end and Connor is collected into my arms for the walk back down the hall to his bedroom. Caroline sneaks off downstairs with Steve for some quiet time making Cake Doodles on the iPad or catching American Idol. (She wants to be the next American Idol SO.BAD.)

There in his room, I wrap him in the blanket that has been his special one since as long as I can remember and he lays his head on my shoulder. I hold my breath in hopes that he is tired enough to accept his fate. This never lasts long and undoubtedly his head springs up and he is again studying my shirt or my necklace. I find he does better when I talk to him about his day and what he will do the next day. ("Tomorrow when you wake up Nana will be here!" "Granda?")Sometimes I sing him "you are my sunshine"/""in arms, mommy?" as he lays there on his back staring into my soul.

This time is a rarity. Our whirling, non-stop, hockey playing, energy machine sits quietly. He clings to my hand and holds it close to his body. His eyes wide, his calmness ovewhelming. When I start to close it down, he relents, pulling my arm closer, asking to touch my face, saying my name over and over. I used to do this to my father. I would convince him to come in to say goodnight to me and I would try to keep him there with me. I remember him laughing about, saying "okay, okay, okay" and pulling himself away. I know how he felt. The freedom of his night ahead, but the sweet kid in the bed who wants just one more moment with him. lt feels pretty good to be that person to my Con.


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