When he is playing, the world is large and fluid. The long, white tails of the curtains are slides or the crests of waves breaking on the shore. Toys can be evil or good, changing from one moment to the next. He loves playing with his cars the most. He is both the wrecked car and the tow truck; the crash and the ambulance, the twisted metal pieces and the mechanic. Each car moves beyond their hard plastic exterior and takes on a different personality. Sometimes they are stuntmen, racing down tracks, doing tricks and surprise, last-minute flips. Sometimes they are on the lookout for lost friends in the jungle, search parties hunting in packs. Sometimes they are firefighters rescuing dogs, blaring sirens, helping trucks that find themselves flipped over or beached between roads. The cars come with him to bed and he tucks them under the covers before he sleeps. They navigate the landscape of his bedspread and pillows as if they have arrived in a foreign land full of dangerous craters and jagged mountains.
If he wakes up and the moon is still outside his window, he whispers and rolls them along his dresser, reminding them to move quietly because it’s still too early to be awake. Sometimes he tries to coax them back to bed and they all fall asleep on the floor of his closet or in front of his bookshelf. In the mornings, he is supposed to wait for his brother to wake up. He sits outside his bedroom door and waits to hear his brother’s laughter -- his invitation to come in. Once his brother is awake, the two of them pile into his brother’s crib and fill it with books and cars and babies. They take their cars out for a morning spin. They careen down a racetrack at record high speeds or captain a ship setting sail for an undiscovered land, their long journey punctuated by meetings with storms or swells or attacking sharks. They talk about their favorite color (red), their favorite car (Lightning McQueen), their favorite things to eat (strawberry fruit snacks).
He likes this time with his brother, uninterrupted by their parents telling them what or what not to do. If his brother doesn’t play the way that he wants, he jumps out of the crib and slams the door as he leaves. Eventually, he goes back in and tells his brother that he is sorry. He gives him a hug as the two of them hunker down in the corner of the crib not covered in toys. He shows his brother how to stomp all over the toys and books until the bindings of the books start to creak and bend in ways he knows his mother won’t like. He tells his brother how the crib used to be his bed and how he is happy to share it. He tells him how one day the two of them can both sleep in his big boy bed as soon as his brother is as old as he is. He tells him how he can bring all his cars and the two of them can spend the night zooming around his room with the moon and the nightlight glowing.