The stethoscope is cold but you
don’t pull away, instead you
stay on the examination table
with its crinkly paper and funny smell,
but you have a tell: your eyes. I watch
how wide and focused they become -
though you are not even one - as the
doctor leans down to take your
temperature. When she checks your
ears with her sharp light, you wince
a little, but don’t try to fight the process.
Later, when we get home, an ornery smile
returns to your face, your eyes light up
as you begin to chase Ron, the cat,
and search for your toys. Today’s favorites
include a plastic wolf and a soft bear. You
are much too busy to care that I have to
chase you around to get you diapered
and dressed. In fact, you appear to enjoy
the breeze of autonomy, as you crawl,
half-naked, cackling and growling, across
the living room floor: a place safe enough
to test the boundaries of love. You know
that here, you can take the risk to disobey,
to run away, to push the buttons, test the
waters, and scatter your snacks all over the floor.
You lift your eyebrows, searching for my response,
dimple deepening as you smile your way to independence.
You are sugar and spice, gaining energy from
ignoring my “no, no, no,” because, at the end
of the day, you know we’ll stay. Mom won’t leave.
Dad will still tickle your toes and play. And when
you raise up your baby arms, no matter what,
we'll scoop you up, kiss your cheeks, and say:
I love everything about you.
Cover image by Kristin Brown