I always loved this photo, because in many ways the roles should have been reversed. The little devil in this picture was more steady and eager to please, the angelic one more mischief-filled. When they were young, time-outs were the consequence of choice. As a toddler, my older son would cry during his minute or two of isolation, and then when asked if he knew why he was in time out for hitting me, he would say tearfully, "Rule no hitting." In contrast, my younger son would sit in the time out singing gleefully, "I feel! I feel! I feel like a morning star!" I would have to duck around the corner so he wouldn't see me laughing.
I found a journal I'd started a little more than a year after this picture, when the kids were 6 and 3. It was only a few pages long, but included this bit about an upcoming school dance:
[My older son] has been practicing his moves for the dance. He told me in alarm this afternoon, "You have to dance with someone!" I acknowledged that this was the case and he said darkly, "I hope it's not wedding dancing."
And later, this:
He spotted a New Yorker cartoon with an abstract Picaso-esque room filled with women's torsos and said in surprise, "There are nipples! and breasts! and front private parts! Women's private bumpy parts!"
This same kid is now living with his girlfriend and planning a life with her after they graduate in May. I called him Friday to wish him a happy birthday, and talked about how 21 years ago, we lay awake that first night staring at each other. I distinctly remember that powerful feeling of recognition that I had looking at his serious face. I'd have known him anywhere.
And the cherub? The journal has this:
Then he took a tumble down a steep hill, after refusing my hand. Sort of slid on his back, bonking his head lightly. This traumatized him to the point, apparently, of renouncing books forever ("I never want any more books!"), stating that Sawyer Bear, who was with us during the walk, would now have the same name as his own, demanding to be carried and insisting that we go home where I would install him on the couch with his pillow and blanket, bring him chocolate caramel milk and let him watch "the video with Joshua on the potty." I complied.
He didn't stick to his anti-book proclamation, however, and went on to become the first 1st grader at his school to rack up 100 Accelerated Reader points. This was partially due to reading, on his own, the first three Harry Potter books that year. When I saw him this weekend, he came in after his chemistry lab final and then said he'd like to stop in on his way to visit his brother Wednesday and asked, "Might there be cake?" Well, of course - how often do you turn 18?
My Thanksgiving birthday boys are now birthday men, and I couldn't be happier with them. The last bit of that aborted journal is a recounting of this argument, which I did my best not to get dragged into, between my older and younger sons when they were supposed to be going to sleep:
YS: "Dreams come from your head and your mind."
OS: "Dreams come from your heart."
YS: "No actually, dreams come from your head."
OS: "Mom, tell him."
Me: "You're both right."
OS: "I know, the pictures come from your heart but the story comes
from your head. Oh, WHY did we have to tie?"
YS: "Mommy, tell me the truth."
Me: "I think they are both involved."
YS: "The pictures are in your heart [brother], and the words are
in your mind."
OS: "You are SO right! That's what I was saying."
My dreams do indeed come from my heart and my mind. And in this case, also from my womb.