But tonight I crawled into his toddler bed with him, spooning his little boy body, still insulated with baby fat, tucking him right up against me. He popped his thumb into his mouth and grabbed his "cozy blanket", manipulating around the perimeter of it until he found "his corner". There's only one he likes, and he twiddles it as he sucks his thumb. He's worn the fabric bare with his love. We stayed silent for just a while, and then he had questions.
"How do the workers know how to make sidewalks?"
"How did Jesus make all the trees?"
"Which kinds of trees are in the jungle?"
"Should I be a barbecue for Halloween?" (what???)
He always asks great questions for a three-year-old. The workings of his little mind delight me and make me giggle. I answer the best that I can--and I promised him a YouTube video of sidewalk-making in the morning.
Then he wanted a story. The lights were already out, so I asked him if he wanted the Three Bears or the Three Pigs story. Bears. Bears it was, one of my best renditions ever, him still sucking away at his thumb. Then he wanted the Pigs. Geez, I hadn't told that one in forever. He followed along methodically. The first pig bought some straw to make his house. (Conor interrupted with "How did he make his door?" Good question.) The second pig used sticks; the third, bricks. "How do workers make bricks?" he wanted to know. We added that to our YouTube to-do list for tomorrow and proceeded on with the story.
He was mesmerized, and when the Big Bad Wolf succeeded in blowing down two houses, sending the homeless pigs running to their brother's house, the tension in the plot sent him flipping his little body around to face mine, and burrowing his face in my arm. "How many wolfs are there?" He wanted to be sure he was on top of the odds. But one is enough, isn't it? Anyway, when the Big Bad Wolf ended up in the pigs' stew that night, Conor was so relieved. A bit disgusted, but relieved. And then he wanted another story.
Enjoying the deliciousness of this rare treat, I went through my repertoire. Jack and the Beanstalk, The Billy Goats Gruff? . . . but no. "How about a Jesus story?" he said in his sweet voice. There was a "Duh, Mom" moment for me. Of course! What am I thinking? So I told him the story of Jesus coming to bless the children and how the angels gathered around. And he wanted another. And another.
This is a boy who loves Jesus. In fact, just today his Primary president approached me after church to tell me how good Conor is during Primary. Really? Oh, what a relief! Cause he's like a circus act during Sacrament meeting. No, she said, he sits there in his little chair the whole time, focused and participating. He even sings, she said, which I knew because I hear him all over the house singing about Book of Mormon Stories and Popcorn and Snowmen.
"He always raises his hand to answer every question," she told me. "Today I asked why we love Jesus, and Conor raised his hand and said that Jesus helps us not to say bad words." I giggled and asked him about it in the car on the way home. "Your teacher told me that you answered her question about how Jesus helps us not say bad words," I said. "Yeah, he does," Conor replied. "Like 'poop' and 'butt' and 'stupid'. Those bad words. Jesus helps us." Indeed.
Just when I think I'm going crazy with the teenage version of these sweet little boys, he reminds me how much I am in love with them. We sang some songs together in the dark, silly songs that I made up, but which we take very seriously. Songs that organically come from real-life, like after bath time when I begin singing, "Where has all the water gone? Long time draining. Where has all the water gone? Out to the sea . . ." He loves that one, "The Water Song," he calls it.
I kiss his soft cheeks and then I crawl out of his bed and kneel next to it on the floor. "Can I listen to your heart?" I ask him. "Sure," he says. I lay my head on his little chest and listen. There it is, that beautiful beating, strong and sure. I know all about hearts now, and I picture the "lubb" of his atrioventricular valves closing and the "dupp" of his semilunar valves following suit as blood exits the heart via the arteries. I picture the delicate valves, valves I have felt with my fingers and marveled at in class, keeping time with the thick and sturdy muscles, tirelessly pumping. I listen to the miracle that is his heart and lost in the steady rhythm my eyes fill with tears. Suddenly I am transported back to a February day in my midwife's office where I hear that glorious and miraculous beating for the first time, proof of life. Proof of his life. I remember how overcome I felt that day, and now, here he is. Full of spirit and vitality and a never-ending hunger for life, and there is that heart, still beating. I want it to beat forever. I want to listen to it forever. It is a miracle.
I look into his eyes and tell him that he is a very important boy. "I know," he says, pulling his thumb out of his mouth only partway. Then he orchestrates a scene, like a director. With one hand on my face he says to me, "You say, (and here he makes his voice sound high and sweet), 'Oh, thank you, Conor.'" So, I do, but he cuts me off. "No, no, after I say something."
And then he says, "I don't want a different Mommy. I want you to be my mommy. Now you say it."
And so I do, in the same high, sweet voice, "Oh, thank you, Conor."
"You're welcome," he says. And back in goes the thumb.
And I am grateful for the gift of bedtime with Conor. And so much more.
Oh, thank you.