Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Not So Smooth

When you have a baby, people tell you that you will fall in love with it. You quietly think they are full of crap because it's difficult to fall in love when your nips are raw from nursing, you're falling asleep every time the baby lies still for seven seconds, and you can't quite remember why you thought having a baby was a good idea.

And then, the baby smiles at you. She squeals. She puts her arms up to you when you come to pick her up. You try to outdo yourself for better reactions. I remember one night when John had just mastered a belly laugh. I was giving him a bath and everything I did made him screech and gurgle with laughter -- until I made a silly face. His smile faded a bit, his eyes grew puzzled. He gave a polite little "heh," which, coming from a 14-month-old, was somehow more crushing than a perfunctory Valentine from an eighth-grade crush. My antics had become tiresome. I felt like my boyfriend had just told me my bangs were lame.

It was then I realized I had fallen in love, truly. And sometimes, love can really stink.

John is more than ready for kindergarten. He is chafing at staying at home with me all day. We grizzle at each other almost like a married couple, going after the same arguments every day. He is 5 going on 15 and has an attitude of a skateboarder, putting his hand on his hip and turning his other leg out when I tell him to pick up his stuff.

"Who wants a mama like you? I sure don't," he said today. Not to my face; not yet. But from another room, and then repeated, fearful that I would hear, and yet wanting me to.

I'm surprised that I didn't squirt blood from my eyes like a horned toad -- my blood pressure went up that hard, that fast. What do you say to something like that?

I tell myself he doesn't mean it -- he's anxious about school starting, he's tired of me (with good reason), he needs to be with kids his own age more. Still, when you fall in love with someone, even the words they don't mean can still hurt.

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