Saturday, April 4 2020

leftovers, catch, and eyeball touching

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Dear Journal,

Happy Saturday, reader. It's a beautiful day today. Even though I didn't get around to journaling until the early afternoon, I've been up with Rodney since the late morning, and later Marissa joined us for breakfast. Before heading upstairs to write, I remained at the breakfast table with Marissa to finish off a pot of coffee. I think Saturday mornings should be slower than the average day, don't you think? It just doesn't feel right any other way.

I had a long, full day yesterday. The workday was a blur of meetings, questions, and triage. I emerged from our bedroom at 12 to make lunch. "Want to do something quick? Heat up some leftovers?" asked Marissa, but by the time I heard her question, I had already begun frying bacon. Marissa laughed, but resisted the urge to tease me.

I joined Marissa and Rodney outside to eat lunch. I fixed myself a delicious hot mess of chopped bacon mixed with microwaved salmon, cabbage, and onions. And just to make sure that it would fill me up, I laid a sunny side egg on top, dabbing it with hot sauce. "This is a pretty typical stressed-out hot mess meal for me," I laughed. "But isn't it magnificent?"

After scarfing down my bowl of leftover mash, I leaned back in my chair, closing my eyes to let the warm sun wash over me. Rodney played in the backyard, and Marissa and I chatted at the table for a bit before I went back inside to finish my workday.

I emerged from my room again around five. Marissa was relaxing on the couch. I stood aimlessly in the living room for a moment, trying to mentally calculate what time we'd be able to eat dinner after starting the pizza dough. "Dough finishes rising at 6:30, a half hour to assemble it, a half hour in the oven..." I muttered. I rubbed my eyes and sighed. "You wanna just order something tonight? I feel like I was hit by a train," I griped. Marissa cracked a smile.

"Yes!" she chirped. "I was hoping you'd say that."

"Awesome," I replied. "I'll see ya in an hour. I'm taking a nap." I retreated upstairs, shut the blinds, and passed out in bed for an hour. My nap was glorious. I think I could have slept for another hour if I tried. But after my alarm rang, I sleepily trudged down the stairs, gently moving Marissa's legs so I could join her on the couch. "Wanna order something now?" I asked.

"Let's get Mr. Brew's," she said. "I want a burger." Rodney joined us in the living room, and while we waited for our dinner to arrive, we decided to queue up some YouTube videos. Marissa learned that Brookfield Zoo was producing a series of "Bring the Zoo to You" videos to help keep kids entertained during the quarantine, and it made for great background noise while Rodney played.

Rodney jumped off the couch, scooping up a water bottle off the floor. He lobbed it to me, and we started to play a game of catch. "Wow, dude, you're getting pretty good," I said, suddenly impressed with his coordination. "You'll be able to hold your end in a real game of catch soon."

I've been looking forward to playing a real game of catch with Rodney. Catch was one of my favorite parts of growing up. My dad was always up for throwing a baseball or a football in the front yard, and I think that's why I have a pretty decent throwing arm today. Catch is relaxing. Catch is therapy - even if it's just with a half-empty water bottle in the living room.

Marissa scooped up the water bottle off the couch cushion beside her. She lobbed it to Rodney from across the living room. He raised his hands awkwardly and flinched, the bottle striking him square in the face. Marissa shrieked, holding her hand over her mouth in shock. Rodney shook it off and laughed, chasing the water bottle across the floor.

"What a boy," I said. "But sometimes you just gotta bean him with it - that's the only way he'll learn how to catch it."

Between the animals on YouTube, a stimulating game of catch, and the dogs playing on the carpet, Rodney felt a burst of energy that caused him to jump up and down, spinning in circles with his arms raised in the air. Marissa and I watched in amusement.

"Can you imagine what it's like to have that much energy? Look at him go," I said. I climbed off the couch, joining Rodney. Even just a minute of imitating him made me out of breath.

A rap was heard on the door. We collected our food from the front porch and sat at the table, quietly gobbling down burgers, fries, and chicken fingers. After finishing dinner, I took Rodney upstairs to get ready for bed. We put his pajamas on, brushed his teeth, straightened up his room, then climbed into bed. Rodney picked a book off the shelf. Normally, he picks a car book or an alphabet book, but this time he chose You Are My 'I Love You'. A departure from his usual favorites, this book was a very sweet poem in which a momma bear contrasts the role of motherhood with the essence of childhood.

"I am your sitting still, and you are my wiggle. I am your quiet place, and you are my giggle," I read. Rodney quietly and contently nestled into his covers as I read the last page of the book - "you are my I love you", I read before gently setting the book on his shelf. Rodney and I sat in quiet for a moment. He was very pensively staring up at the ceiling. It was a nice moment.

Suddenly, he reached his arm up toward the ceiling and stuck his finger out. Shifting in bed, he turned toward me, slowly bringing his finger to my face. I watched with anticipation, expecting a profound reflection or a tender show of love.

Rodney touched my face, inching his finger closer to my eye. I felt the sharp poke of his finger nail on my eyeball.

"Dada," Rodney said. "Can I touch your eyeball?" he asked. I flinched and shut my eye. I could feel his finger trying to worm its way under my eyelid. "Please?" begged Rodney. I was laughing too hard to reply, but after I composed myself, I rolled out of his bed and squeezed his arm. "You're such a wingus, dude," I said before clicking his light off. Boys, right? They're the worst.

Thanks for stopping by this morning. Have a wonderful Saturday.