I check in on Zachary fifteen minutes after putting him to bed. He is awake. Although he has discovered that the testing is really quite easy, it threw off his sleep patterns. I sit down on the edge of his bed.
“What’s wrong, my sweet?”
“I’m going to have bad dreams,” he tells me. “Someone brought in Spider Man checkers today.” We chat for a few minutes about Spider Man checkers and board games in general. He is quite sure that he is stupid – that he always loses the games.
“You know, you changed my life when you were born.” I am thinking of the way he taught me about unconditional love and parenting, opened up a world of emotions that people who have parents come to understand in childhood.
“I know,” he says again. “You stopped teaching when you had me.”
“That’s true. But I’m sure sometime I’ll teach again.”
“You know, people who have children still can teach,” he tells me.
“I know, but I wanted to be here for you guys.”
“Well, if my grandparents lived in town, maybe my grandma could take care of me while you taught.” Then, silliness kicks in. “Or, maybe grandma could teach for you while you took care of us. No, that would be backward. I think grandma better take care of us while you teach.”
“That’s true. If she lived here…”
“But grandma doesn’t really take care of us,” he remarks, as though taking care of someone implies boring. “She plays with us.” Which, in case you were wondering, his mother does not do.
“That’s true. She’s a pretty fun grandma.”
“She’s the best grandma.”
“That’s right,” I reply. “There isn’t a better one out there.”
He smiles. “You’re joking!”
“No, you got the best grandma,” I assure him. He looks at me, all earnestness. Then he speaks.
“I think your mother would have been just as good.”