The Partner was home all day with no big plans to fix all that was failing around him. We ate breakfast first, which he cleared as I nursed Number Two. Then the baby napped. The Partner and The Boss played a board game. I shut the door on them all and ran a bath.
Later we watched home movies of The Boss when she was the age Number Two is now. I had no recollection. Was she really ever so tiny? I looked down to where she sat, nestled in my arm on the love seat, and I found it hard to see her as anything other than what she was at that very moment. The past, though vivid on the screen, was faded; the future, a blur. I patted the solid bend of her leg next to mine.
Then we were diverted to a flea market, where we bought a camping chair for $2. At home again, I cleaned up breakfast pans I'd left sitting. The Partner kissed my neck from behind me. The Boss watched a movie. Number Two played in a pen of primary colors.
The Boss's bath came before dinner. I lined up foam letters in short word formation on the wall of the tub. I held my breath as The Boss sounded out the first one.
"Puh-ah-duh. P-a-d. Pad!"
I screamed and clapped. I ran to get the Partner, who wore mechanics' overalls as he worked under my car in the garage. He followed me up the stairs to the bathroom.
"You've got to see this." I arranged three more letters in front of The Boss, who was splashing slap-happy as the center of attention. "She can read! She can really read!"
She studied the word. "Buh..."
The Partner and I stared down, nodding her on. My eyebrows were high in my forehead. I still wasn't breathing. "Yes?" I sucked in air, prodding.
"Buh...ah...guh. B-a-g. Bag!" The Boss fell forward like a seal, splashing water over the side of the tub, sending the letters sailing away. We were all spastic.
At the end of the night, after the dishwasher had been loaded and the kids' beds filled, The Partner and I sat down to a movie. I don't like to be sad on purpose, but I suggested The Bucket List anyway, thinking that an uplift would prevail. And it did. We've never been immune to schmaltz. Toward the end I cried so hard that my face hurt where the tears clogged my sinuses.
"It was the little girl that got me," The Partner said. She was the new found granddaughter Jack Nicholson kissed on the cheek; she was the most beautiful girl in the world. "I can't see a little blond and not think of our own adorable kid." His eyes were puffy. He sighed beneath the weight of pride. That breath propelled him into the star-struck addendum that follows almost any mention of The Boss: "She's the best." It takes a little more air away each time. "The best."
You won't hear me deny it. I've said it right here. We'll never be immune to schmaltz.