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Where Stars Live

Cayden graduated kindergarten today, in which case my grey hairs make sudden sense. When I was Cayde’s age, I first learned that my dad’s middle name was ‘Lee’ and that Mr. Rogers was the voice of both King Friday and Daniel Tiger. I don’t know exactly what this means, but I figure, if nothing else, it means Cayde is by now aware, too.

We quarreled on the way to the grocery store today, but I distracted him by asking where I should park the car: upper or lower level. He said upstairs. After stopping the car and removing his seatbelt, I grabbed him tight and we hugged outside the closed doors, up and above 7th Street where he always remarks how far down the bicycles are parked. I don’t like these arguments, and nor does he it seems–because he set his head resolutely on my shoulder and went limp as if he were twenty pounds and not fifty. There was no need for apologies because arguments with five year olds never make sense–it’s like arguing against the fact of the sky–and we both said sorry anyway. I was happy to have kept my cool. He was happy to later write the PLU numbers on the bags of hazelnuts and dried cranberries I procured at the store, numbers which would later confuse the checker:

‘Spelt?’

‘No–hazelnuts. Try ‘5962.’ His sixes are sometimes backwards.’

‘Ah.’

The register rang correct and Cayde trounced out of the store having scored an apple and craisins. This, mind you, erases everything in a five-year old’s mind, the sudden fact of craisins! and–for a thirty-six year old–the fact of craisins will do just fine, thank you. I hate it when Cayden’s angry. I figure it means I’m angry because Cayde, by virtue of being five is constantly looking into mirrors. That’s what five-year olds do. But, still–there was that hug and the release of everything as Cayde’s dirty sneakers bounced off my hips. His dirty hair, that smell of coconut and playground-sweat stayed for just a second, inches from my nose, and I said, ‘Sorry’ and, at the same time, ‘I’m so proud of you today.’ Because I was. There on the second-level parking structure at Whole Foods.
Cayde graduated kindergarten today and I held Finn on my lap, during the ceremony. Finn was bouncing on my knee and signing, ‘More, more!’ if I happened to stop. Cayde was up on stage waving, else miming ‘rock-a-bye-baby’ to signal that he wanted to see Finn.  I remembered that Cayde’s first word was actually a string of words: ‘What’s this?’ ‘What’s that?’ Finn is threatening a word, too, at this point–a meaningful utterance. He makes a sound that resembles ‘brother’ cuz he loves Cayden more than anybody else. No one else lights up his face more than Cayde, this boy I had to wrest into the car today and remain patient with despite a temper-tantrum, this boy who is smart beyond his years and who challenges me everyday with a barrage of multiplication tables and a multitude of questions: ‘What country do squids live in?’ ‘What does the inside of a blueberry look like?’ ‘Where do stars live?’ Cayde’s always asking questions, the ‘what’s this? The ”what’s that?’ The zen in all of this is the fact of Findlay. Finn has no questions right now, no toddling inquiries. He’s simply working on the declarative. He just widens those great blue eyes, works beyond the thick of his tongue, and tries his very best to just say, ‘brother.’ ‘Brother.’ ‘Bruddah.’

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