My younger son and I made an unspoken agreement once – when he was five or six or seven – that if one of us smiled the other would smile back. When I was angry, disgruntled, sad, he smiled, and I became his mirror. I smiled too. When he sulked or stormed, I smiled. He smiled back; first grudgingly, then widely. Now, when I kiss him, he kisses me back. It’s hard to evade reciprocity, to give him a surplus of affection, like a parent sometimes craves to do. Sometimes, I kiss him, and he kisses me twice, three times, more. Then I sneak into his room at night on tiptoe, and kiss him again, silently, gently. Like a blessing. A secret parental blessing, which as my child, he can’t return.
I’ve returned to this daily short writing practice after three long weeks of absence, now writing to word prompts by email with three other women across the continent from me. I’m also doing a looser every-week-or-so word prompt with a friend in town. This is from the latter. I’m going to keep posting these periodically under the same heading of Words in Brief. This is what grounds my days right now, this and a weekly art prompt with another friend; this and my I-finally-at-42-have-the-inner-discipline-for-it daily yoga practice; this and the increasingly full days of homeschooling my two kids.