“Mama,” Leo chirps, still thinking he’s a bird and not a kitty, a year and a half in. You shouldn’t have left his crib by the open windows so much.
“Yes baby,” you say, tugging bubble wrap underneath him, playing as you put Christmas away.
“Tell me about the day I first went to the bathroom.”
You look up as if you’ve been in bubble wrap yourself. “The first day you went to the bathroom? You mean the first day you used the litter box?”
“Yeah, that day.” Leo turns on his back, limp in the sunshine…ready for a story.
“Well, you were a very tiny baby when mommy found you,” you say, straightening up and beginning to separate ribbons. “I let you go to the bathroom on me for a long time, but that’s normal, especially since mommy wasn’t specifically trained in raising you.”
You glance up again through Brooke Shield eyelashes and give your best Jason Bateman grin, but Leo is already asleep.
“The milestones of your potty-training that stick out for me are when you went to the bathroom on me for three months, and then you finally started using the tin-foil pan.”
You look again to see if he’s listening. He’s not.
“There’s a funny story about your cousin who couldn’t say her R’s for a little bit longer than usual,” you continue. “Her mom was changing her pants one day in front of Grandpa and me, and apparently they’d had corn the night before. 'Day’s cone in day,' she said."
It was difficult for you and your dad to not contort your faces at the moment. All machinations were started, the gears grinding. You did not ordinarily see a small blond child hopping around, pointing at her poo and exclaiming about corn while at the same time hearing her mother say, “It’s normal! Everything is perfectly normal!”
Well, if she said so.
You get time-sucked back into the moment because Leo stretches and shows his belly. “Tell me about when I went to school,” he says.
You shake your head in misery remembering when your baby had to go to school. He wasn’t ready for it—couldn’t read yet, was barely picking out his clothes from the dresser—but he had to go, and you had to go too.
You tossed him his plaids, though you had laid them out the night before. “C’mon.”
He was only three months and still all-black with the shiniest of eyes. You would have done anything to keep him happy. He didn’t want to wear plaid. You had to step up. “Excuse me, you don’t have a choice, hello, get your clothes on, I can’t leave until you’re ready,” your existence said.
You are outnumbered by far by better parents than you. You have two of your own who you covet and want to share at the same time, so other people get the best. You can only swing your wand so far.