The mornings were his favorite – just him, his dad, and his brother, Hayden. His dad would bring him down the stairs, and he would squirm to be put down so that he could make his way to the pantry to find the Goldfish. He would bring the family sized bag to his dad, who would pour him a bowlful. Then, the two of them would sit on the couch and watch Mickey. Eventually, his brother would come down demanding his own programs -- Curious George or Blaze. So, the three of them would sit there, watching cartoons and drinking milk. If the dishes were clean, his dad would let him help empty the dishwasher, and he would take the forks and measuring cups and hide them around the house, sticking them in drawers or under the couch.
Some mornings, his dad would make pancakes and let him and Hayden help. They would pull up chairs to the kitchen counter and stick their fingers in the batter, trailing it across the cupboards like paint. His dad would hand them spatulas and let them stir. He would mix it too quickly, sending the flour spraying up at his face. Their dad would point to the pan on the stove, warn them not to touch it. When he poured the batter in circles on top of it, the pan would hiss, and he could see bubbles in the batter. Once, he had ignored his dad’s warning and stuck his finger on the pan to see how hot it was. His finger had turned red and shiny. He had shown it to his mom, and she kissed it and covered it in a sticky gel that made his finger feel cold.
He loved watching his dad get ready for work. While his face was lathered with shaving cream, he would pull open the drawers, stand on his tiptoes to stick his hands in, and pull out treasures like a mini bottle of shaving cream or a tube of toothpaste. Whenever he grabbed the toothpaste, he would squeeze it as hard as he could until the cap popped open, and blue gel would stream down his fingers and create a pile on the floor. It reminded him of mud, except it smelled better, and it turned everything blue. It also left his fingers sticky, so he would wipe them on his dad’s pants, even though it made his dad mad. If his brother came in, they would jump in the shower, splash in the leftover water puddles, and toss the loofah at one another, leaving big wet spots all over their pajamas. Hayden was the best at tossing the loofah out of the shower and landing it in the tub on the other side. Whenever he tried, it always came straight back down, hitting him in the face.
If his mom was still in bed, he would run over and throw his cup at her to wake her up. He would grab the monitor she kept on the bedside table -- he could see his crib on the screen and he loved pushing the until it played music. When she got out of bed, he would run at her with his eyes squeezed shut and his shoulders hunched up, tackling her. Then, she would pick him up and carry him into the playroom so that he could grab his phone or his piano to play with while she made breakfast. He liked to sit in her lap while she ate and eat from her bowl. Sometimes he would let her feed him with a spoon, but most of the time, he would grab whatever she was eating with his hands and squish it into his mouth or through his fingers. Whenever Hayden came over to try to sit on her other leg, they would start pushing each other and she would make them go play outside where they could run and shout at each other as much as they wanted. Hayden was throw dirt at the walls and they would cover the windows in mud. They wouldn’t come back in until the sweat was dripping into their eyes and their cheeks were pink and hot to the touch.