It’s late for a seven-year-old to be going to sleep, and yet, here we are. It’s the kind of late that you don’t tell the neighbors about because it’s a school night and they’re probably sleeping. Or, at least decent enough to be in bed reading or watching TV.
We’re laughing though, and laughing makes up for embarrassingly late because laughing in the dark with a seven-year-old is a thing we’ll always have.
“Remember this laugh,” I think. This innocence.
He’s making a goofy face, raising and lowering his eyebrows, and it’s dark in his room, so I can no longer actually see him. I know he’s making the face, though. Up and down, up and down. It is funny.
I feel the expectation in his held breath and tensed belly. His patience for my laughter is barely contained. It is electric.
I laugh. How can I not?
He does it again. And again.
“Shhh,” I say.
“But you didn’t laugh this time,” he says.
“It’s time to go to sleep.”
He makes the face again, toward me this time, and although I can’t see him well, I crack up.
His desire to amuse me strikes deep. I remember my own childhood performances where reception of made-up plays and funny faces usually fell short compared to the ovations I’d anticipated.
I feel him begin to relax, and then he’s doing it again.
His body is facing away from mine, but I feel it tense. I laugh again and he asks me whether I have super-vision.
“Yes,” I say.
A pause, as he considers what this may mean, I suppose.
“Not really,” I confess.
“How did you know?”
“Because I know you. Now, it’s time to go to sleep.”
I lie there in the dark, knowing that these moments are limited. The clock on my phone laughs at me, and I think about the probably-sleeping neighbors, and wilt a little from the guilt. “Why didn’t I just say ‘five more minutes’ an hour ago?”
“I’m not enough.”
The clock on my phone agrees as the light fades. Even it is sleeping now.
“Somebody else would know better and do better. Be better.”
I wonder whether I’m giving this not-so-little little boy of mine enough.
Enough attention, enough validation, enough discipline, enough of myself.
I think about my own childhood. I know I was loved. I was also misunderstood.
Does he feel misunderstood?
He makes the face again. I laugh, but do so more quietly. I don’t know what to do now. Should I leave? Ask whether he wants Daddy? It’s late, after all.
If I were enough, I’d know these things. We’d have been laughing in the dark an hour ago. Maybe even two.
His breathing evens out a little bit. He’s relaxing.
I think about school, and what to write in the email to the principal about how I don’t think being in Spanish class is a good thing for him. How to say that with both grace and power. There must be a way to express that you realize what a gift it is that the kids learn Spanish so young while also saying “Thanks, but no thanks. It’s just not right for us now.”
Then I get annoyed that I’m even worried about it. It’s such a simple thing in a world with such bigger fear and sadness.
He shifts beneath my arm, and my thoughts do, too.
I remember. I remember thinking “remember this.”
I smile in the dark, remembering how excited he was that I’d be chaperoning his class field trip on Tuesday.
I’m lucky, that he’s proud to see me.
“You guys! My mom is here!” he says to his classmates. None pay much attention, but he doesn’t notice through his bounces.
“Maybe, you’re already enough,” I think.
My phone rolls its eyes as my son’s flutter less. He’s almost asleep.
“But it’s so late!” I think.
“Shhh,” I say. Sometimes, shushing our thoughts is what makes us enough. Sometimes, good enough is.
I remind myself that had I skipped laughing in the dark at a funny face simply because of what time it is is something I’d regret more than a too-late bedtime.
I think about what I don’t do, about unanswered emails and lists. I also think about what I do do. About how often I’m able to help at school, and about how happy he is to see me, each and every time.
Seeing me at school makes him feel seen, I think.
Inside jokes and funny faces that make us laugh is enough. It’s more than enough.
He’s sleeping now. I unwrap his hand from mine, kiss his cheek.
“We’re both enough, kiddo,” I whisper. “Always.”
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s sentence is “I am not…” Our sentence thinker-upper is Lisa of The Golden Spoons. I read this post and asked if we could use her sentence this week. I’d planned on writing about how I’m not as young as I used to be, how I’m not… I don’t know. How I’m just not whatever I’m not. But then, it happened as it happened, anyway. Apparently, I wanted to write about not feeling like I’m enough. Go figure. Anyway, link up with Lisa this week!