He scraped his finger and I licked it, a first instinct. His blood tasted like blood, that metallic tang. He’s filled with it, same as everyone else. How strange. I expected him to be made of blueberry juice.
Going away is not so much worry and mother-guilt. He doesn’t need me in the literal sense: anyone can make grilled cheese and up-end a box of dinkies. Going away is missing my little buddy, jealous of the stories and cuddles and head-butts he'll give everyone else.
During a nap I sneak in his room and stand over him, watch him tangled up with his teddy and his owl and his Walter the Farting Dog. He breathes and shifts, so sweet a sight that my head may well pop off and float away with joy. I love being there when he wakes, confused and piss-eyed. He wraps his monkey legs around my waist and rubs his face against my shoulder, wiping away the sleep and murmuring to me his dreams of pirates and deep-sea monsters and salty breezes, bracing and hair-whipping, his favourite.
He is a polka-dot boy, a blackfly-feast. I swat and curse as they nuggle into his eyelashes, tuck in behind his ear, gather in swarms at the nape of his neck where the nectar beckons. Since he is unaware of the existence of bugs, he is completely oblivious. He sits in his paddling pool in the sunshine babbling to himself, filling a bucket with rocks. The object of an insect maelstrom that would send Gandhi himself shrieking like a banshee for the indoors.
Children focus unblinkingly on discovering delight, to the exclusion of all else. Teaching us fractious, glum-filled grown-ups that a state of zen in not reached through consciousness – but through a lack of it.