“Mama, did you drip paint here?” I'm on the floor and he’s sitting in my lap, facing me; he's pointing to my neck. We’ve talked at length about drips of paint, because we’ve had some painting projects of late, and also because the painters who preceded us at this house were rather careless—we’ve found drips in the driveway, in the bathtub, on the bathroom floor, etc. Drips of paint are quite familiar.
“No, honey. What do you mean?”
“Right here?” He touches my neck, and I realize he’s talking about a small mole I have there. “You drip paint here?”
“No, babe. That’s a mole. They grow on your skin.”
“What you hit that on?” He looks concerned; now he thinks it’s a bruise.
“No, honey—it’s a mole. It grew on my skin there. It’s okay, it’s not a bruise.”
He reaches out with his little hand, grabs the thing, and starts twisting it as if to remove it by force. Ouch! “No, Marcus, it doesn’t come off. It’s okay—it can stay there. Look, I’ll show you more of them on me.” I do. Of course I can’t find any on him—his fair skin isn’t even freckled like his dad’s. It’s just creamy smooth flawlessness. And here I am, pocked and marked, sitting before him like a warty frog. The whole conversation makes me giggle, and I tell him, “You’re silly and you make me laugh.” He laughs too, and we hug and then he starts climbing all over me and the offensive mole is forgotten.
I know his skin won’t always look this way. He won’t always mistake a mole for paint, or a little bruise. He won’t always try to twist and rub away my many imperfections with his small hands, although I’m certain he’ll become much more familiar with all of them as he ages and gets to know “everything,” thus realizing his mother's idiocy.
He won’t always be my little boy, on my lap, giggling with me about a mole. And that makes me rather sad.
P.S. I needed to write this today because it’s been a bear of a day. Molars are coming and they’ve temporarily turned the kid into quite a crank-butt. So, it’s nice to recall this moment from a few days ago and remember who I’m really dealing with here.
P.P.S. To any veterans reading this: THANK YOU.