"Joe-Joe, what are you going to do if Betsy licks your hand?" Jane says.
Jane and Joe hover over baby Betsy. Joe leans down, smooshes his chest on her. He grins two inches from her face. "Her likes me," he says. She flaps her arms.
Joe sits up. He takes her face between pudgy hands and turn-turns it to face him. "Baby Betsy wikes me," he says.
"Joe, what are you going to do if Betsy licks your hand?" Jane says.
He cocks his head, pauses to look upward as if the answer were hidden under his eyebrows. "Wipe it on my shirt," he whispers.
"Joe, what if she licks you?" Jane says.
"Wipe it on my shirt," he says again, this time his eyes caught in the gravity of Betsy's face.
Jane grins at me. We shake our heads.
"Baby Betsy wikes me," Joe says his hand already fumbling hers.
We watch him affection pouring from us to him to Betsy.
5671. Joe turns three. Aside from him coaxing the corner of a baby orange into Betsy's mouth (two months old); and eating brown sugar and toothpaste straight from the receptacles; and getting into Jane's embroidery needles; and emptying the vacuum, getting most of it in the trash; and opening the oven to "check" on the chocolate chip cookies; and trying to poke more stuff into outlets; aside from the normal thrum-drum of training, it was a normal and relaxing birthday.
5672. "Jesus," Joe prays, "please help that Betsy will be healthy and whole. And please help that tomorrow will be my birthday again."
5673. "I love what the oven does to the cookies," Myra says.
5674. Life chitters on. Endurance unbidden finds us, holds us like the curve of old jeans snug against all the tired parts. Something better than pleasure embraces us.