It was the second time that H had thrown the puka shell necklace out of his carseat and demanded that I retrieve it for him.
“Mama. Get it,” he had twice commanded imperiously, and by the second time I felt the spin of minor irritation in my body, like a mosquito buzzing in my ear or the scratches you get from reaching into a blackberry bramble with greedy, purple stained arms to find more. My thoughts felt like pennies just dropped into the spiral wishing well coin funnel that H loves, the one just outside the bookstore. They were looping around lazily in my head.
I am such a pushover, I thought, harshly, unkindly, the pennies picking up speed. I can’t keep picking up that necklace for him. I don’t want to. Why did I even give it to him? I need to set a limit.
We came to a red light. I twisted around in the driver’s seat to fish the necklace from where he had dropped it and returned it to him despite the voices in my head.
“Thank you,” H warbled, the words new to him, not completely formed, yet clear to me in the way his toddler words can be.
And there it was, one of the many moments between us in which I hung suspended, pulled out of time by love. It was the first time he said thank you to me.
How glad I was that I had chosen not to let the irritation grow, that I had somehow managed to snatch the pennies from the funnel before they locked into a fast spin. How glad I was that I had chosen to engage H in playfulness, that I retrieved and returned the necklace. How glad I was that I got to experience in that moment those words from that boy.
You are welcome, dear H. And thank you.