Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older.
When did they?
#1 Son used to do a lot of babysitting for me. He had a way of seeming so adult and responsible, as if he couldn’t let me see his needs until he could see that I was settled myself. I knew his little brother and sister were safe with him, that he could manage things and get help if needed. I wonder sometimes how much of this was pretense; he is an actor, after all.
#2 Son is several years older now than his brother was when he started babysitting, but to be honest, if he has to be responsible for another living creature, he would prefer it be an animal. The Princess is my baby, and of course it’s hard to think of her taking care of anything more than a doll. But yesterday I had a lengthy denominational meeting, and a colleague whose kindergartener needed a place to go, and I volunteered The Princess to babysit, with #2 Son as backup.
The meeting went on longer than expected, and as I raced to the parking lot, I whipped out my cell phone to call home, fully expecting to hear shrieking and moaning in the background.
“Mom, it’s fine,” was the competent reply of my daughter. “We’re having fun.”
As I turned onto our street, I could see her coming out into the front yard with her young charge, both in their winter gear. #2 Son came out the door behind them, Frisbee in hand for entertaining the little fellow. (It seems that a call saying a church meeting is over does not convince them that I am really on my way home.)
They looked so grown-up. When did that happen? They are taller; their bodies are maturing; but those are only the obvious marks. They worked together, these children Pure Luck calls “the Bickersons.” They stretched.
Inside the house, the coffee table had been moved against the walls, to make room for a tremendous arrangement of Brio trains. Once upon a time, my living room floor was always covered with “set-ups,” as #1 Son dubbed them, beginning long ago with Fisher-Price Main Street and Castle, moving onto Lego and Playmobil and a variety of mutant action heroes. Each of my children has played that way, inventing their own worlds. The Brio collection began as a gift to #2 Son from my parents, the last Christmas my mother was alive. The set-up yesterday included bridges, stations, little farm animals, even a roundhouse.
I hated to put it away.
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze