bird

And then one day you look at your kid and they stand there, and their legs are so long, but all you can remember right at that moment are dimpled cheeks, and dimpled arms, and the soft soles of the feet, and the legs kicking, and the arms reaching without coordination, and the eyes shiny and blue. And you remember how small he was, laying there in the plastic incubator, wrapped in blankets and towels and with a little beanie on his tiny head. And bandaids on his skin from where they’d drawn his blood for tests, and the monitor showing his heart rate and breathing and oxygenation of the blood, and whether he was doing alright.

And you remember when he slept on your chest all warmth and softness, and curled up next to you, and how he still likes to curl up almost on top of you when he snuggles in your bed. And you remember when the doctors told you there was something, we don’t know what we want to test for it, that there was something, and you said no, but as the days and months passed you knew there was something, and that something had the best laugh and the best smile and the ability to look at other people and make them notice and care, long before he ever spoke a word.

And you remember the speech therapist being so upset that he didn’t point out the skunk: he knows belugas and otters and octopus, I said, but what did it matter? he didn’t know skunks, and he didn’t say the words, and he didn’t say them even though she asked him and prodded, and then he spoke, and the tongue didn’t quite cooperate, but we all knew, we knew what he meant, because he spoke and told us anyway, every way.

And I remember when he went to school, and I remember that mischief in his eyes every time you joke around with him, and I remember all the other mommies asking “how old is he” and then being shocked when I told them “but he is so little he is so little he is so little” echoing through every single damn conversation. And you were little, he was, running, kicking a soccer ball, playing in the sand, riding his bike, little, strong, tough, funny, gorgeous, hilarious, all that, but everyone just said small.

And there are those long legs. All of a sudden like. Ankles and knees and calves and thighs. Just the other day someone said “he’s little for eleven isn’t he” and I thought, does that matter to you, why do you see that, why do you say that, I don’t tell you your hair is iffy or your skin looks blotchy, but commenting on someone’s appearance seems OK in some instances. And you think it’s OK.

And that something is there, it’s the dark thing that I feel when I look too far ahead, the cold thing I feel when I try to blame and explain and bludgeon reality into what it isn’t what it wasn’t what it never ever was. And that something isn’t all that, not really, something is you, not a part of, not a special need, not a condition, not a genetic thing, not not not, it’s all of you that something, something out of this world just like every child, except they don’t have your tough laugh resilience sharp eye memory for cars and places and directions your sensitivity to sounds and sights and lights and moods and emotions – like you pick it all up and it reverberates through you and that sound that tone that vibe is something I can’t hear but you can, every little bit of it trembling up and down your spine and skin and soul.

And this is you. Long legs in those shorts. Standing there. And one day. And one day. And one day more.

This post was originally posted at my personal blog: Kids. Food. Life.

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