Smelly Socks: Sharing a bowl of cereal
Charlie, my almost 3-year-old, and I are exactly alike. At least that's what my mom says. She says that you could put me in the play pen to play and 30 minutes later come to get me, and I'd smile happily. No crying, no fussing, no ants in the pants. The fact that they left me there alone didn't seem to bother me one bit.
I thought for sure that when he was born, he and I would bond right away. I didn't have that anxiety or first baby worry with him like I did with Adam. He was an easy baby with feedings and sleep patterns. But it didn't happen and to this day I struggle to find that bond with him but when I do, it is so rewarding.
The initial connection between me and Charlie finally happened about six months into our new life together after a night filled with constant waking and sleeping. I finally figured it was easier to sit there and rock him to sleep than to let him "cry it out." This way I'd get some sleep as would the rest of the boys in the house.
So as I sat there rocking him and trying to direct his gaze away from the soft light that came filtering in from the bathroom light I had turned on, he looked at me, smiled and started touching my face with his little hand. He began grabbing my nose, my eyes, my hair, and my cheek; in essence exploring my face with his little fingers. He smiled wide with that little toothless grin and his left leg was pumping away happily.
I was trying to get him to sleep, not keep him awake. So I closed my eyes and hoped that he would too. Then he buried his head into my shirt and grabbed the collar of my T-shirt with his left hand and held on tight. And that's when I knew. He may be too young to "bond" with me right, but he knows that I'm his Mama. And if anything, that made me look forward to our journey ahead.
Fast forward a few years.
I have an almost 6-year-old and almost 3-year-old. Now Adam, being my first child, received all of my attention for the first 3 years of his life. Charlie has had to fight for it since he was born. Has he been affected by it? I don't think so as he doesn't know any other way. I believe it's made him more independent since I couldn't always be attentive to him.
I'd wanted to spend some more one-on-one time with Charlie, so a few weeks ago, Joe had a business meeting and took Adam with him. I stayed home with Charlie. It was the first time in a long time that it was just me and him. Well, our dogs, Linus and Lucy, were there too, but they were too busy sunning themselves on the patio to know that we were by ourselves.
While my goal for the day was to re-arrange and re-decorate some rooms in the house, Charlie's goal was to watch Bambi and play with his cars and monster trucks and draw, with ink, on a to-do list I had made up that morning. He would, of course, come in and try to help me move furniture or place objects where they didn't belong, but it wasn't always a successful outcome.
So, as lunchtime was approaching, instead of the usual, I thought it'd be fun if we ate something different. I asked him if he wanted cereal. He replied with a smile and an enthusiastic, "yeah!" I poured the milk and mixed the Rice Krispies and Lucky Charms together. I asked him if I could sit next to him and he smiled big and said, "yeah Mama!"
And there we sat, side by side, quietly eating our cereal, drawing cars and trains on a blank sheet of paper and looking at our dogs lying on the patio. We didn't need the TV on or constant talking because we both enjoyed the quiet and each other's company in the same way but different than most.
And every now and then with a smile, he'd pass a Lucky Charm marshmallow cereal my way and say, "you Mama."
Anita lives in Chicagoland with her husband, two boys and two dogs one of which is a girl. Email Johanna Bloom or Anita Spisak at firstname.lastname@example.org.