Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Running Away

Number Two runs in a jig, his feet kicking out to the sides yet propelling him forward. "No run! No run!" he shouts as short legs splay from his torso, the swish and the sweep finding a strange traction. I’m not sure if he knows what he’s saying. I can’t be sure that I know what words are coming out of his mouth. But it sounds like “no run” as he burns rubber in light-up sneakers that illuminate trails at home, at the ballpark, at the furniture store, and on the sidewalk in front of his sister’s school.

Number Two doesn’t seem to need words the way The Boss does. He is absorbed by process while his sister thrives on explanation. Number Two runs to feel the earth more, to feel the wind more, to feel the catch in his lungs and then the exhale. The Boss, on the other hand, runs so that she can be the first person to arrive at the finish line with a story to tell.

When my son moves, he is so solid on the ground that he seems to weigh down the sky. “No run! No run!” The language is what floats away. Does he mean he knows the rules, but is flaunting them? Is he telling me I shouldn’t chase him? Is he saying no to everything except the race? “No! Run!”

I don’t get it. I don't get him. But as Number Two darts away from my grasp in a fit of laughter, I see that my running enigma is sure enough for the both of us. Steady enough, too.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Healthy Eating (for Dogs)

The Boss loves nothing more than hearkening back to the days of youth. Currently, this gives her a three year span to work with. Her own memories can take her back to the latter half of two; her family's nostalgia fills her in on the rest.

"Remember when you used to eat dog food when you were a baby?" I asked The Boss one night as we dumped a new bag of Rachel Ray's Nutrish dog food into Roxie's Rubbermaid receptacle. "It was no fluke, either. You went back for seconds." I giggled at the stupid things people will do before they learn about pet food processing. The Partner lent a chuckle.

The Boss, who likes to be involved in family amusements not just by inclusion but by shared memory, looked at me. She looked at her father. She looked at the replenished container busting forth with red, green and brown kiblets. "Okay, I guess I'll try some." She shrugged. "I guess."

The Partner and I did a double-take. "Whoa, hold up," I said. "I did not even ask you to eat dog food."

She shrugged again, this time incorporating her abundance of expression and the stretch of her neck into the shoulder roll. "No, no, it's okay. I'll try some." The only fear in her eyes was the kind derived from the suspicion that her parents would get in the way of her fun. The Boss was hell-bent on reliving her past.

She needn't have worried about any trouble from me. I just stood there, all "what?" and "uh, wait a minute. What?"

The Partner raised his eyebrows, cocked his head, and reached into the stash of Nutrish. He grabbed a handful for his daughter to choose from. The Boss dug her small palm into his big one, angling to possess the offering in its entirety. "You don't have to eat all of it!" The Partner's words came out in a surprised sort of chortle.

The Boss faltered for a minute. I imagine she was going over, in her mind's eye, what she perceived to be her past dog food-eating triumph. She didn't just want to recreate the moment; she wanted to improve upon it. Her hand halted over her father's for just long enough to be discernible. Then she took it all. And then she at it, one kibble at a time.

I was turning circles in amusement, watching my back for the arrival of the state Department of Children & Families. The Partner was marveling at his daughter's gutsy quirks. "Well, what does it taste like?" one or the other of us asked, finally.

"It doesn't really taste like anything I've ever had." She pondered the question, mulling the grainy chunks over in her mouth and mind. "Well, it kind of tastes like chicken. Kind of."