This summer I have some potted flowers on the porch. In the dog days of July and August down here in the South, these little beauties need watered twice a day. Craig, my watering can buddy, ‘helps’ me with this task before and after work. I step down the stairs and head to the spigot on the side of the house, and he meanwhile lays on his tummy about 20 feet away from the top of the stairs and starts scooching backwards. I love that he has learned to go downstairs backwards on his tummy, and it always makes me giggle that he starts his backwards slide so far away from the actual stairs.
By the time he actually gets himself down, I have already filled the watering can and come back around to greet him at the base of the front stairs. He watches me pour the water and we chat about how plants need water and soil and sunlight. Before I can stop him he grabs a handful of blooms and crushes them, then lets the bits of petal fall through his fingers to the ground. I scold and brush off his hands, then carry him up the stairs to water the pots by the door. He strides around importantly, garbling baby nonsense and getting down in a crouch to get a closer look, dimpled hands on chubby knees, a discerning furrow in his baby brow. He rips a leaf, holds it to his face, crumples it up and smooths it out and shows it to me. I try not to wince at the daily rending of my poor plants’ delicate bits, and instead oooh and aaaah in wonder.
When we have finished, we tuck the watering can behind a rocking chair, and then I open the front door. The threshold is a little ridge of metal and rubber about 2 cm above floor level. He used to need my helping hand to navigate this obstacle, but now he just grabs the door frame, then slowly slowly lifts his foot (way higher than necessary) and steps over it and into the house, trailing bits of leaf litter and petal in his wake. Literally sprinkling flower dust wherever he goes.
“Booh!” he shouts assertively, and hands you a book. You have read this book fifteen times today already. He swings his arms with excitement, then turns around and backs up slowly into your lap. He smiles, absolutely thrilled to read “The Monster At The End Of This Book” for the hundredth time. Inside you roll your eyes and scream “I. CAN’T. READ. THIS. AGAIN.” but you read it, again, and he flips the pages and bounces in barely-controlled excitement. You have every word memorized, and marvel at how something a simple as reading a book can be both torturous and delightful. Sigh. For him it is all delight, though, and so you do what all parents do, and delight him though the mind-numbing repetition steals a tiny piece of your sanity.
Before you even finish, he is looking around, ready to grab the next book. Sometimes you read three in a row and then he hands you the first one again, and you read all three again. He loves it so much. How can he loves this so much – the same thing over and over again. He snuggles back into you, you are cheek to cheek, and you steal sidelong glances at him as you read. So much baby fat. The dimpled elbows, the rubber band wrists. You run your fingers up and down his baby smooth skin, and say “I, lovable furry old Grover am the MONSTER at the end of this book,” and watch him giggle at how terribly silly that silly old monster is. What a delight he is. What a burdensome, exhausting, absolute delight.