Cayden · childhood · cooking · Findlay · home · parenting

Boys on the Double

Jenn goes to GFit more evenings than not. When the car leaves the driveway, Cayde inevitably announces–‘it’s ‘Boy Time!’ while Finn toddles the house and creates new and geometric sculptures out of his toys, stacking cars and dolls and otherwise plastic pieces into the shelves and hollows of our home. He’s very determined in his task, always, chin down and lower lip protruding. The entire house gets decorated in Hasbro. I try to play records on the stereo, but Finn stomps the rooms straight-legged and diplodocus-like; meanwhile Cayde cannot contain his urge to spontaneously back-flip into the couch cushions. The records always skip in time with the boys’ seismic mismanagement of things, and I wind up just having to stop the needle.
“What’re we gonna do, Daddy?” Cayde asks, upside-down on the orange recliner, his hair all fanned out.
Boys. Jeezus. I rarely was one, or maybe I’ve just been grown-up for too long.
The other day I took Cayde to the park for pitching practice–Friday–and the field was abandoned. I had new bifocals, and the mound was freshly manicured. I told Cayde to wait a sec, and leveled my shoe against the rubber. I hadn’t been on a mound in thirty years, but threw five straight strikes before attempting a side-arm curve-ball that went way left of orbit.
Way left.
Cayde laughed at me. We practiced and wound up running into some old SeaWorld friends who were there to do hitting practice with their son. We relinquished the mound and shagged balls till near sun-down, this kid pounding flies relentlessly to center and Cayde pumping his legs in attempt to get them before they bounced over the fence.
“I shagged fourteen!” Cayde announced, only three having skipped the boundaries of the diamond, over the chain-link and into the grass beyond the home-run line.
I’m not usually this energetic. Cayde’s near nine; I worried I’d have broken him by now. Eight was the age I was irrationally scared of, age eight being the diving board quivering over the fact of nine and ten, that hesitation before the teenage years, before the drop into the acerbic and chlorine-blossomed world of adolescence. I panic over losing my boy. Meanwhile, my eyes are noticeably older.
“What’re we gonna do?”
I snap on the burners and harbor the kids into the kitchen. Finn wants some grapes and gets them: “Tank you da-da-daddy-pa-pa.” He doesn’t know when to stop the syllables. He cuts the grape in half with his teeth and it’s the best sound.
I make a molĂ© quesadilla for Finn, throw some pans around and do a black bean chicken burrito for Cayde. This I’m good at.
I let Cayde pick out some songs on the iPad and Finn wanders away from his dinner to jump–his new-found joy and ability–and Cayde follows suit, dancing in the kitchen. I’m still flipping tortillas on the range and browning what needs to be browned. I stop at saying, ‘Stop.’ I forget sometimes being a boy. I don’t tell them to get back in their seat.
We resume, we happen. We stomp and air guitar, forever high on the neck, playing our trouser legs like Les Pauls, occasionally thrumming an always low-slung bass–too cool to play it high and to the chest–just being boys, boys on the double, and  before Mom gets home.