Today I’m greeted with a hug that starts from across the room. He must have been anticipating my arrival because when I open the front door, he’s thundering full speed in my direction. I quickly brace myself to receive him. The impact of his body sends me searching for my balance, but I regain it–I have lots of practice. I pull his body up onto my hips and squeeze my arms around him. I kiss his cheeks, his nose; I say, I missed you, too.
Now begins our walk home or, more appropriately, the journey from the sitter’s. It’s really just a few blocks, but Gus has established several things he likes to do along the way.
The first is a made up game. Gus runs up to a neighbor’s front porch, climbs to the first step and waits there until I shout emphatically, “That’s not our home!” Then he bends his knees into a squat and tries for a great big jump.
We play a game of hide when we reach the community garden along the train tracks. First, Gus tells me where he’s going to hide, and then he orders me to my hiding place. When we are crouched down and out of view, I call, Where’s my Grousie? He echoes, Where’s my Mommy?, which is the signal for us to dart out and meet each other with loud, abundant squeals of laughter.
These rituals didn’t develop all at once, but were created over a series of walks. I suppose I’ve encouraged them. I could’ve taught Gus to hold my hand and to keep to the sidewalk. But, even then, I’m unsure of how I’d tame his spirit for play and exploration, or mine for that matter.
Gus hears the distant train and beams with excitement. We pause and watch it roar by. We feel the earth rattle beneath us.
We continue on our way home and follow our usual detour through a tunnel splashed with vibrant murals. Gus searches for his echo with yelps and screams while scampering to find the fairytale-like family of snails. He thinks their swirly shells are rainbows.
It’s nearly an hour later when we finally arrive home, and I’ll have to rush to get dinner ready. I’ll blame it on wonder. The wonder there is in the world when you’re small. And, when you’re big, the wonder there is when you return.