I’m standing in my closet, hanging up clothes. My least favorite job has been embellished happily with the presence of my littlest boy.
He hides behind the dirty clothes hamper and whispers conspiratorially to me every now and then, his hoarse little voice a tiny, happy gunshot in the midst of what is normally a drearily silent job. When I respond in kind, he rebukes me firmly, telling me to not talk to him.
His Daddy is hunting the house for Ollie and to make matters worse, he’s wearing his black motorcycle helmet while doing so, eyes enigmatically covered by its black, black visor. We can hear him stomping around theatrically, gruffly calling out for Ollie. Is he in here? we hear him ask an empty kitchen. How about in here? he calls out to the blank space of a vacant living room. His disconcertingly altered voice gets louder as he draws closer. Ollie can hardly bear the tension and his little body nearly vibrates as he waits, terrified yet thrilled to hear his Daddy’s thumping footsteps approaching.
And then a yawning silence occupies every corner of every room in the house. Ollie strains to hear something, anything and the little guy’s anxiety is nearly palpable as we wait together in the closet. Even I have to push back a sense of foreboding and I’m married to this ridiculous man, whom I know to be benign to the core. What is this instinct? This primal desire to preemptively rush out of the closet to meet him, our accoster? Before he can come upon us in here as we wait in this enclosed space? Whatever it is, we feel it powerfully, but we push it back from the forefront and continue to wait, motionless.
JoyBoy bursts in and snuffles aggressively about the clothes as I continue to hang them. Oliver finally can take no more and yells out in a sweet desperation, here I am! JoyBoy pounces and hauls this little boy off to our king-sized bed where they wrestle happily.
It is all the sweeter because of the torturous waiting beforehand. These are the moments I know I’ll miss poignantly someday – these precious little moments that feel so ordinary right now in the living of them, and that click into place in a long line of countless others like it to form a busy, happy life.