"That's a nice shirt, Joey," I say. He clatters cowboy boots over the hardwood floors.
"Yeah," he says, "'cause it doesn't have pee on it."
"Pee, oh," I say
"Yeah," he says.
"Betsy shouldn't have that," Joe says. I pull toast from the toaster. He pulls a discarded jammie shirt from Betsy, her delicate fingers laced around the tag.
"It's ok," I say. " She can't choke on that."
"Mom," he says, "it's ok if she EATS it," he says. "I don't care, 'cause we have a GREAT washer. And a GREAT dryer."
"Oh," I say.
"So, yeah," he says.
"Ugh, I'm tired of picking this stuff up," I say. Joe had dressed himself. I grab a wadded blob and fashion it into a shirt -- shake, fold, toss it in the drawer.
"I'm tired of you making me obey," Joe says. He tilts his head, nods, shoulder cocked up to his ear.
"What?" I say.
"I'm tired of you making me OBEY," he says.
"Oh," I say. "Well that's my job."
"Yeah." he says.
"Yeah," I say.
A truce ensues, the kind that requires lots of testing. He obeys. I dictate, that constant grasp for approval always there just above his eyebrow. As we play the counterpoint, boundaries result, and happiness, a sense that all is right with the world.
And so it is. Fortitude and mirth result. We laugh and carry on, me firmly at the helm, him learning the high seas. Simple acts of submission grow him strong for adversity.
5686. I Christmas shop with each of the kids. We find simple gifts, wrap them with great love.
5687. New measuring spoons, specially tagged as mine (a notation for the many cooks in our kitchen).
5688. Egg nog.
5689. Betsy takes a liking to plain raw oatmeal soaked in just plain ol' water.
5690. "Mom, you're my favorite woman," Jack says.
5691. I start using my homemade apple cider vinegar.
5692. We have a fried chicken dinner on the farm with Craig's family.
5693. We visit his 100 year old Grammie. I watch him with her, his face resplendent with love.
5694. A good book, a fire in the fireplace, small delights fill our storehouse.