It’s almost 9 AM and my son B. is still in bed (read: we’ll be late for our fruit smoothie, we’ll have late breakfast, we’ll drink milk later than usual, we’ll go for a shorter walk so as not to be too late with the afternoon nap, we’ll have late lunch, a late afternoon milkshake, late dinner and finally we’ll all go to bed late). Once a proper routine is set, everything’s easier. I’m waking him up, whether he likes it or not. I’m tickling his feet, touching his fingers, his knees and tummy (he’s rolling over onto his stomach), kneading his calves and shins, massaging his arms and his back, blowing air into his ear, whispering, and calling out his name in a low voice. No reaction whatsoever. A change of tactics—reducing the comfort. I’m shaking him gently, asking him to wake up. I’m uncovering him. B. is anything but pleased. He’s yawning and rubbing his eyes. He opens them briefly (they look fatigued), then closes them again. Step two—making some noise: opening and closing the drawers, drumming my fingers on the window sill (rat-a-tat), moving the closet door and rustling the laundry basket. I’m tapping on the window, touching the big dry leaves hanging along the bamboo roll up blinds, making a soft crackling sound. Ring, ring, ring. Honeybun (slightly raising my voice), it’s for you! Didn’t you hear the phone? Pick it up. Mom wants to talk to you.
Still nothing?! Next step—removing the key from the keyhole, putting the key in the keyhole, turning the key. Shake, rattle and bang. Rise and shine, baby! Mmmmmm. He’s pissed off. I see him move his limbs and stretch out. Mmmmmm. More sleep distractions?! Singing. Love me, love me, love me, say you do…Singing on a high tone. Let me fly away with you. He’s on his back. I’m rubbing my nose against his and touching his face with my hair. It tickles him. Love me, love me, love me…He’s smiling, his eyes closed. Still yawning. I’m removing the blanket. May I have your attention please? (talking though my nose) Will the real Slim Shady please stand up? I repeat, will the real Slim Shady please stand up? We’re going to have a problem here.
He’s looking at me and blinking. I stand up, turning my back as if to leave. Several seconds later, B. is up and about. What a remarkable turnaround. He’s staring at the world through a conveniently low window, smiling at the birds, and the trees, pointing at the passersby, mommies and daddies taking their kids to kindergarten, cyclists, postmen doing their rounds on yellow bicycles, cars being parked, cars driving past. While he’s busy watching in amazement, I’m putting on his sleepers and sweatshirt.
B. slips off my lap nervously, heads for the door and dashes into the kitchen. There’s nobody there. He’s used to having his daddy wait for him with the bottle. He’s looking for him everywhere, in the living room, the bathroom, the bedroom. But, daddy’s not there. He throws himself on the floor with a sob of despair. I kneel down, take him in my arms and hold him tight. Daddy’s gone to work, but look what he made us (I’m shaking his bottle). The smoothie is impatiently waiting to be drunk and in a split second, B. forgets about all the sorrows of the world, living joyfully in the moment.
Without further ado, he leaves the kitchen once he’s done and heads for the living room. I turn on the radio: A new cyclone is approaching northwestern Europe; it will cause gale to storm force winds in parts of Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium over the next 24 hours. After looking around for a few seconds, B. notices the balcony door is ajar. He pulls the door toward himself, and steps out. It smells of rain. He immediately spots his Mickey Mouse pinwheel, a gift from my mom, stuck in a flower pot. He knows it spins when blown by the wind or when you move the wheel so he wants me to lift him so that he can touch the curls, that is bang them. He gets a kick out of it. What he seems to have forgotten is that Mickey is hurt. The wind came and took the pin away, so he can’t move his hands now.
B. wants to come closer. He sees something is not right. He’s confusedly staring at me, expecting me to fix it. I’m holding him tight, saying Mickey got a bit tired of spinning in the wind, and thought he might chill out for a change. I let him take him, making sure he doesn’t grab the stick to which the curls are attached. I slowly put him down. Normally, he’d continue his pursuit for a solution (read: my pursuit for his solution) but not this time. With Mickey in one hand, he walks around, touching the tiles, the flower pots, the mat, my flip-flops, the parasol, the drain, the wall, the table and the chairs.
B. is inside again. I step in too and close the door behind me. He’s not thrilled but doesn’t object much. He’s rubbing his eyes. How come? It’s not nap time yet. He grabs my hand and drags me to the kitchen, pointing at his pot. I warm up some milk. We enter the bedroom holding hands. I sit down, putting him in my arms. He drinks it up in the blink of an eye and next thing you know he’s fast asleep. I lay him in his bed and listen to him breathe for a few seconds. I go back to the living room, plop into the armchair, and take a deep breath as I close my eyes. The wind pushes the balcony door open. I get up to shut it for real this time. It’s pouring with rain.