The Small Things
When the boys move through the house their bodies whip around like tornadoes, scattering toys and bits of paper and dirty laundry across every room. They move like they are afraid of stillness, afraid that if they are still, their muscles and joints will fuse together and cease to work. Their shouts feel like home and when they are quiet, they are doing something they aren’t supposed to be doing. Once, she found them flooding the master bathroom. Water spilled over the tub and across the floor like a lake lapping at the edges of the carpet. They were both naked and their hair was dripping. As they moved across the tile, they slipped and clung to one another, and laughed.
They love sugar and pasta and peanut butter. Frozen waffles and strawberries and cold pizza. Tortillas and sliced carrots and rice. One morning, her oldest sat in the corner of the living room with his back to her. She found him eating candy, a pile of empty wrappers around his knees like confetti. When she asked him what he was doing, he smiled and shrugged and continued to chew on the tootsie roll in his mouth. It had been so hard not to laugh as she told him to throw the wrappers away and reminded him that candy was not for breakfast. When the younger one realized what was happening, he screamed until she gave him a tootsie roll too. They love for everything to be equal.
The relentless pace of them leaves her muscles feeling tired. By the end of the day and she finds herself splayed out on the couch, staring at the TV that she doesn’t have the energy to turn on. She finds crumbs in her bed and ground into the rugs. She finds spilled cups of milk in the corners of the playroom and shoved under the couches. She finds hardened crusts of sandwiches stuck between the couch cushions or hidden in the drawers of the coffee table. She knows that her furniture will never recover from the amount of crayon and marker and mud that she has scrubbed off it. She tells her husband that she only wants patio furniture from now on and he snorts and reminds her that they would find a way to destroy that as well.
At night, she knows the sound of their yawns and the smell of the top of their heads and the feel of their fingers grasping her own. She has memorized the length of their legs and the puffs of their tummies and the exact places of their birthmarks and bruises. She knows when they are awake because she can hear them moving across the ceiling while she lies in bed and pretends it is still the middle of the night and that they are asleep. If they are sick or grumpy, she can tell by the look in their eyes, the tilt of their heads. If they are excited, she can tell by the decibel of their shouts or the inflection of their voices. She has memorized their schedules and their favorite books and their favorite words and the pressure of their hugs. Sometimes, at night, they read a book called, I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love, and when she reads it, they are too young to realize that the story is also about them.