Blue eyes twinkled as he sat impatiently in his chair. His body squirmed and wriggled in impatience to begin moving again. Fruit Loops decorated the table along with small droplets of milk. A smile filled his entire face as he watched his mother move about the kitchen.
“Outside! Mamma Outside!”
“Would you like some bacon and eggs? You didn’t eat the cereal?”
“Noooo! Outside, Mamma!”
Mamma stood and shook her head at this most darling child. Her little ball of energy and laughter stole her heart anew every day. His belly laughs came from way deep inside and his cuddles, beyond description. “Breakfast first, son, you know that!”
“Toaster Fruit! Her little package of pure action decided.
“Well, it’s not the healthiest, but that is why you get vitamins. Open up for the squirt!”
His face screwed up at the flavor and it made her laugh. Okay, let me get you some clothes while the toaster pastry heats up then when you are done you can go outside. He clapped and banged the table and she moved into the bedroom to grab a pair of short, a top, socks and shoes. She had just finished working the graveyard shift at the local hospital. It had been a quiet night, but she was ready to close her eyes.
“Owwwww!” She ran back out to the kitchen to find him on the floor next to the toaster.
“You were supposed to be in your chair, why did you get up. Oh my poor baby! Where did it hit you? Are you hurt?” She saw a welt coming up on his forehead and grabbed a cloth and some ice to put on it. “Oh, my poor darling; come sit with Mamma and we will make that bump go away.” She blamed herself for what happened; she knew better.
She settled into her rocker and held the compress to his pale forehead and rocked absently while she hummed tunelessly and stroked his soft brown hair. This was the one time she could keep him quiet. He loved the rocking motion and listening to her heart beat. But at eight o’clock in the morning he could not sit for very long. Soon he was wriggling again. He slipped his little hand up to her face.
“Mamma? I all better now. Outside?”
“Oh, alright, but let’s get some clothes on you first. Do you need to potty again?”
A firm shake of his head sent started them on the process of stripping off his bedclothes and getting the shorts and shirt into place. He wiggled and wriggled so much it took twice as long. Finally he was dressed and charged to the door. She grabbed some drinks from the refrigerator and followed him outside. As he ran into the huge world known as “Backyard”, she settled into the chaise on the porch with some cold orange juice.
In a bit it would be “Inside” time, when it just got too hot and he would get a bath, more clean clothes and play pen time. For now, she enjoyed the morning cool and watched her little man toddle from one part of the yard to another. Pretty soon he settled at his dirt pit where all his trucks and bulldozers were. He would push them around as long as his short attention span would allow. Then he was off to find more action.
The soft breeze and morning coolness lulled Mamma to sleep. She did not hear when he got up and ran across the yard. He stopped just short of the porch and stared at something poking out from between the screen and the metal frame. He reached for it tentatively and Mamma did not say anything so he became bolder.
Mamma awoke to her wonderful, very mischievous son poking her. “Mamma! Look, I fix!” There stood a very proud toddler holding the spline that held the screens in the metal porch frames. All screens of all the bottom frames lay on the ground as son proudly held the spline that had held them in place.
The fogginess of sleep cleared, and she realized her son had truly found mischief. Her utter exhaustion and frustration with herself and her tireless toddler began to explode. She jumped up looking with disbelief at the unscreened back porch. She closed her eyes and hands opened and closed as she prayed for understanding and to calm the anger that boiled up in her.
She suddenly bent down and lifted him up into her arms and buried her head into his shoulder.
“Matthew, Matthew, Matthew! God grant me the patience to be all that you need. Yes, Mamma sees. It is getting hot, inside time. Let’s go have a nice bubble bath and get the dirt and sweat off you, then we can put your movie on.”
She ran the bubble bath and while he played , she dialed her husband and explained what happened. They talked about the porch, her job, what was for dinner. Her second call was to the hospital. She let them know she would not be coming in that night or any night thereafter. Once off the phone, she looked down at her precious son. He was splashing tirelessly. She pulled out a towel and lifted him from the tub, carried him into his room, and dropped him carefully onto the bed. He loved this part. She put her hands on either side of him and bounced him up and down. That belly laugh she so loved rumbled from deep down in his tummy. She so loved to watch him as his joyous embrace of life and living. He was her pride and joy.