First, let me begin by saying that I believe in self-expression via writing. Words are the most effective means of communicating how we feel, right? It’s kind of a no-brainer that I, of all people, would encourage my children to write.
So with that in mind, I painted an entire wall in Joe’s room with chalkboard paint.
It’s been fun to find their silly little drawings. Joe’s nearly perfect attempts to recreate Chomp from Super Mario World. Gwen’s weird-looking princess people with something resembling an antenna springing forth from their heads. A series of wobbly lines drawn by Kate and placed directly over the artwork of her siblings thus eliciting screams of protest and angry pleas for me to make her stop.
Sometimes Gwen is permitted to sleep on the top bunk in Joe’s room. These are the nights when her heart swells with joy and she beams with giddy delight at his invitation for a sleepover. We know that giggles and fake farts sounds are part of the deal. Dave and I accept that we’ll be required to stand at the bottom of the stairs and issue several warnings to settle down. Of course we know this, but boy, do those two children share a special bond. We love to see them loving each other.
So last week, during one of their sleepovers, Dave and I let them giggle and make fart sounds for a bit too long. Mostly because the giggles had turned to uncontrollable belly laughs. The deep and uncontrollable kind that can be so rare for Joe as he struggles with ADHD and anxiety and emotions. He’s a serious guy. So when he laughs so hard that he’s gasping for air, we let him and we share a glance and a chuckle before finally issuing the “that’s enough now” statement.
To tell you the truth, I didn’t give those belly laughs much thought the next morning. They had become a warm memory, filed away for use at some future date when I attempt to recall what Joe and Gwen sounded like at ages 7 and 5. When I need to pull that memory out because I’m pining for these days. The very days we are experiencing right now. The ones that parents of grown children tell me I will miss. I believe them. I do. But when you’re in the thick of it, it is hard to embrace that sentiment. Despite the wistful expression that washes over the face of a stranger when they see me herding my noisy flock through the grocery store, the look that comes right before they say, “I remember those days.” They say things like this as they stare at my children, not really seeing them at all, but traveling back in time to spend just a moment with their little ones courtesy of a warm memory filed away long ago.
When a complete stranger remarks that they miss their little ones, I pause. I do. I pause because I know I’ll feel the same way one day. Mostly because my naughty little brood makes me laugh. Despite their decidedly fresh behavior and inappropriate language, I will miss them terribly when they become pimply and gangly-limbed humans.
However, I will not miss finding the messages of self-expression that make it abundantly clear what those sibling slumber party belly laughs were all about.