Mister has been away on business for a few days. He came home early this evening while I was fixing dinner--snuck up behind me, scared the shit out of me, then buggered off upstairs to toss the kids around for a few minutes. They were thrilled to see him.
About 10 minutes later I called everyone down to dinner, and asked Elder Miss to set the table. As she was carefully laying out our colorful array of mismatched utensils, she was adamant that Daddy sit by Mommy tonight.
Odd, usually she insists that Daddy sit by her and only her.
Once all the glasses were filled with water and everyone's meat was cut, I sat down in my assigned seat next to Mister and started filling my own plate. Elder Miss looked over at us with an impish, greasy grin and asked, "Aren't you going to kiss?"
I looked at her. He looked at me. Her eyes danced between us, waiting.
Weird game, Miss. But I'll play.
I rolled my eyes, turned to Mister, and planted one on him.
Hsss-s-s-s-sssss. Snicker. Snicker. "You guys are in lu-uvvvvv!" she sang. Then more hissing.
Both Mister and I let it pass with out comment, and turned to Boy. We started playing the what-does-such-and-such-begin-with game (he's getting really good at it). After a few minutes of being ignored, Elder Miss couldn't stand it anymore. In a breathless, wide-eyed rush she cut in, "But know what? Today I heard a story about a mommy and a daddy--well they weren't a mommy and a daddy but they were a boy and a girl only they were grown ups--but they took all their clothes off and they KISSED! Without their clothes! And they were in love. And THEY KISSED! Totally.Naked."
"Who told you this story, EM?"
"My teacher--and after they kissed they hugged and then they had a BABY! But...it was only an animal."
This last part was said in a deflated, disappointed tone. Like she had understood that someone had pussed out and deliberately fudged the punch line.
We didn't get into what she thought "hugged" might entail, or indeed, what any of the rest of it was supposed to mean, because suddenly Boy crowed triumphantly from the other end of the table, "Kiss starts with a k-k-k-Kicking King!!!" and the moment passed.
Also of interest today:
Elder Miss and Boy spent some time alone in her room this afternoon. I don't know what they were doing. I don't know what they were talking about. But at one point Boy came slumping out--head down, feet dragging, two fingers hooked limply in his mouth for that extra touch of pathos.
He climbed up into my lap (I had been sitting on the stairs folding clothes). He tucked his head under my chin. I expected him to start whining to me about how EM was being mean and wouldn't let him play, and was, once again, trying to come up with a nice way of saying, "Oh for Christ's sake, Boy, grow a fucking backbone, would ya'!"
But instead he whispers, "EM told me that when I get really really old I have to die. How long 'til I'm old?"
He's been asking me this question for weeks now. How long 'til I'm old? How long 'til I'm old? He wants to be old enough to ride a skateboard, see. And he's seen a snowboard in the Toys R' Us Christmas catalogue. He understands intuitively that these are the toys of the "big" boys. He wants to be one so bad he can hardly stand it.
But today, for the first time, he seemed to sense (also intuitively) that age is as much about loss as it is about gain. Today, he was sad, not afraid, when he asked, "How long 'til I'm old?"