Snow and Rain and Hail and Sun: An Easter Story
Yesterday it rained, it snowed, it hailed and in the middle of the day the sun was so warm and bright that I moved all the seedlings and flowers to the window to soak it up. All in one day. Every hour or so I would call HH to the window to see the next act that Nature was laying out, I caught flakes of snow and balls of hail on my sleeve and on a large browned leaf that had caught itself in the pigeon wire that laces our window sill and I held them out for him to touch for the moment they remained alive, before they vanished in their melting.
The first weekend of Spring put on quite a show. It was cleaning day in our house and everything inside was turned inside out, rugs rolled, furniture stacked in the hallway, papers and notes and maps and toys that had somehow migrated into the kitchen were sorted out and put into some sort of order, the floors were washed, sinks scrubbed and HH loved it. He loves to clean. The kitchen is my domain so I was hold up in it most of the day. It’s the room where we spend most of our time, not just eating or preparing meals, but sitting and talking, meeting with friends, painting in the afternoon and generally being.
At one point I came out and found HH on his hands and knees on the living room floor with a small white bucket of water in front of him, squeezing water from a wash cloth and rubbing it on the baseboard. His job was to clean all the baseboards in the apartment and he took to it with delight. I cautioned him to squeeze all the water from the cloth before he began wiping the wood so that it wouldn’t drip all over the floor. He looked up at me and with a short snap informed me that he knew how to do it. He barely raised his head when he said it; he was crouched in a compact bundle, both hands on the cloth, wrenching it with all his strength, carefully wiping the wood in gentle measured strokes. He didn’t need me to tell him anything about his chore and so I said no more about it and just watched him for a moment or two, admiring his grace and patience before returning to the kitchen.
We worked on like this through the day until after lunch when all of us needed a break. HH wasn’t in any mood to break however and had a bit of a meltdown. I try to keep rules to a minimum around here – the life of a four-year-old already has enough “watch-out”, “careful”, “don’t touch that” and “when you’re older” in it, but hitting and screaming are two things that will get him sentenced to a period of time-out and yesterday afternoon he earned one.
HH is a pretty happy guy and generally only hunger and fatigue will cause him to break down into a fit of stomping, crying rage. But there he was on the floor stomping and shouting – he wanted to keep working but neither Mama nor I had another wipe left in us. About ten minutes after I banished him things got very quiet so I gently opened his door and peeked in. There he was curled up on his bed sound asleep all wrapped up in “baby and blankie” and there he remained until it was time for dinner.
After dinner he told me he had a big surprise. He had hidden Easter eggs throughout the apartment and wanted me to find them. I looked at his mother with something like horror in my eyes. We had just cleaned the whole place and the thought of a dozen hard-boiled eggs slowly rotting behind seat cushions or tucked between blankets only to be uncovered when their stench found them out weeks later, wasn’t very appealing. Was he going to remember where he had hidden them all? She gave me a “take it easy” look as HH took my hand and led me into his bedroom. I shouldn’t have worried because one by one he took me to their hiding places, the closer we got to an egg the more he laughed and when I picked one up he shrieked. I don’t remember a better Easter egg hunt in my entire life. Layer the two of us watched a Wallace and Gromit video “The Were Rabbit” - fitting for the season - and then it was off to bed.
As is our custom, I talked to him. Last night he wanted me to talk about something new, something I had never talked to him about before and since this weekend is Easter I told him the one Easter story I have. It’s not anything I actually remember but it is one of those stories our parents tell about us – one of those events that my aunts and uncles used to bring up every summer when we traveled home to visit the relatives in Massachusetts. I still recall my Aunts laughing about it when I was a young man. I was about four – HH’s age – and my parents and some of the neighbors organized an Easter egg hunt. At some point in the day a neighbor dressed up in a giant rabbit costume and walked into the house. I was terrified and ran crying to my mother’s side, certain that this giant, fluffy beast was going to devour me. My mother, as the story goes, tried to assure me that it wasn’t a real rabbit, “It was only Roger in his bunny rabbit suit.” Those words have been repeated literally hundreds of times over the years – they are part of the script of my growing up, of my life, even if I have no memory of the event itself. And so last night I told HH the story and he laughed and laughed and made me repeat it for him. When he asked me to repeat it a third time I told him it was late and time to go to sleep. He protested a bit and then I reminded him how important sleep was and that when a little boy doesn’t get enough sleep he sometimes gets cranky in the late afternoon, like today for example, and so he rolled over, said “Good night Papa” and without another word went to sleep.
As I write this early in the morning, snow is falling, HH is sleeping and the house is quiet except for the taping of these keys. Another day is about to break, another opportunity to learn something about loving my little boy, and maybe, another story.