It was six-thirty on Sunday morning, and I had already shoveled out one of the cars. Lilah had been very sick since Saturday evening, but the driving snow had made it more dangerous for me to take her to a doctor than to remain at home, listening to her cough and wheeze in the bed beside me. Neither of us had gotten much sleep. She woke me up again at five, and after forty-five minutes I realized the snow had stopped. I snuck into the kids’ room and woke J, who I had sent to sleep on the top bunk so that one of us would be rested for the day ahead.
And so it was that, at 6:30, Lilah had fallen back into a fitful sleep beside her daddy, the car was liberated, and both boys were still asleep. I had enough time to shower before she awoke and we could finally get out to a doctor.
Of course, a third of the way through my shower, Benjamin came stumbling in, an endearing mix of hand-me-down orange PJs, rumpled hair, and eyes still not quite focused in the light. “Sweetie, Lilah is sick and sleeping. Can you wait here very quietly while I finish showering?” He nodded, not ready to remove his giraffie from his mouth. Some people are not into chatting first thing in the morning.
Silently, he relieved himself, then sat down on a stool and watched me shower. I gave up the right to privacy when I had children.
I made it out of the shower before the other boy showed up. He is five, and although we haven’t drawn clear lines, we are both quietly making efforts to establish some ground rules for modesty. He waited outside the bathroom for me to finish dressing, using the time to develop his list of complaints for the morning.
I leaned over to put some moisturizer on my legs. Benjamin, I guess finding something interesting enough to bother speaking, found his first words of the morning. “Mommy,” he asked, “why do your breastes dangle?”
For a few seconds, I was dumbfounded. It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then, I am speechless. This was one of those moments. I just had not expected that particular question.
Because, seriously, “dangle” is a pretty sophisticated word for a three-year-old.