Imagine that after you have died and your daughter/son will be given the gift of seeing a single five-minute period of your life through your eyes, feeling and experiencing those moments as you did when they occurred. What five minutes would you have him/her see? Tell us about them in the finest detail.
“Where’s doggy and binky?” I ask, ready to say "good night" and take a deep breath after a full day of parenting.
“I no know,” Kellen says, looking up at me with his bright blue eyes, head slightly cocked. “Where?” he asks, lifting his arms and shrugging.
“Let’s go find them,” I say.
I open my arms wide, extending my hands out to my side. “Neerrrooommmmpppp,” I say, hoping this game will minimize resistance. Kellen opens his arms behind me and repeats the sound.
“Airpwanes,” he says.
We fly down the hall, my bare feet sinking into the carpet.
I round the corner into Kellen’s room.
“Coming in for a landing,” I say, picking Kellen up over my head and gently rolling him into his bright blue and orange comforter.
He grabs his crocheted dog. After the fire, we were given so many stuffed animals, but it was the blue handcrafted dog that he gravitated to in the days where his only forms of communication were averting his eyes and crying or laughter.
“Which books?” I ask.
“Uhhh,” he says. “Llama ‘jama.” I know he’s going to pick Llama Llama Red Pajama and already have it tucked under me as I lay in bed next to him.
“Two more,” I say. I limit the stories to three a night, knowing I would never get time to read adult fiction if I didn't.
“Goodnight Train,” he says, and then, “tired,” referring to I’m Really Not Tired.
I lug myself out of his twin bed and walk over to the half-painted bookcase my step-father made. I lay back down pulling Kellen into my chest. He holds doggy by the tail and rubs it along the base of his nose. If I had to bottle up the feeling of love it would be this moment.
I start reading about Samuel McKay and his ardent belief that his mommy and daddy have all the fun once he goes to sleep. It’s one of my new favorites.
“CCCCRRREEEAAAAAAKKKKKK,” I say when I get to the part where the noisy step gives Samuel away. Kellen chortles, a laugh so genuine it could only come from an unhardened two year old.
We say good night to the McKays and then the train and move on to the last book. I'm both anticipating and dreading the end of story time, my mommy identity colliding with my individual one.
I quickly thumb past the title page of Llama Llama Red Pajama when Kellen whines. I start over and turn every page slowly, pointing out the pictures.
“Keln,” he says, just like he does every time he sees an “e” written anywhere.
“Llama Llama Red Pajama reads a,” I say.
"Story with his mama,” Kellen continues. We trade off as we turn the pages, Kellen finishing each line and pausing for me to kiss his head or call down to mama llama.
“Baby llama goes to sleep,” Kellen says.
“And now Kellen goes to sleep,” I say.
I move Kellen’s head from my chest to his blue, train pillow.
“Car blankie or green blankie?” I ask, holding each up.
“Green blankie,” he says, laughing.
I pull the green blankie over his body, careful not to lose doggy under the covers. I put car blankie on top.
“Mommy kisses,” I say, kissing him. “Butterfly kisses,” I add as I brush my eyelashes on his cheek.
“Other butterfly,” he says, turning his head so I can kiss his other cheek.
“I love you Kellen,” I say.
I walk over to his Leapfrog in the corner and turn on his ten minutes of music.
I blow a kiss. Kellen presses his tiny hand into his car binky, then puts it out to blow.
“Oh, thank you,” I say, grabbing the invisible kiss.
“Oh, thank you,” he repeats with his hand on his ear.
I turn off the light.
“Sweet dreams punkin,” I say.
“Sweet dreams punkin,” I hear him say as the door closes.
Good night my sweet boy.