Every day I ask the same questions. "How was your day, Mishka?" You lean back on me, warming my body with your fleece footie pajamas. Tonight you are playing with a bright orange lock you found on the floor of your older brother's room, where we are hanging out, in his big cozy recliner chair. Your brother was given this little lock by a friend at school. These kindergartners have big hearts and they are always sharing their treasures. I have no idea what items of his, or of mine, my super six year old has given away to his classmates. You concentrate on the lock, your tongue sticking out, trying to find the right combination that will make it magically lock into place. "Did you have a good day?" I try again. You ignore me and work the lock between your fingers. I place my hand on your head and turn it towards me, trying to to get a look at your beautiful brown eyes. You pull away, eyes locked on your hands. "Did you eat soup for lunch today, Mishka?" I know you did. We check the lunch menu every morning, you and I, and so I know that beef soup and peaches were on your plate today. Silence. Your tongue pops in and out of your mouth as you finally give up on the lock and toss it aside. I seize my chance before your mind is otherwise occupied. "Did you have a good time with Daddy tonight?" You spent the evening at church, hanging out with Daddy while your brother participated in the mid week childrens' program. Again, silence.
"OK, you don't want to talk about your day? Let's talk about something else. What would you like to talk about?" You think about this for a minute before answering with, "The bug on your bear." Ah. I retell you the story of a few weeks back when all four of us were in the master bedroom and your older brother and I noticed a scary looking bug sitting on my teddy bear. I remind you of how Daddy took a tissue and captured the bug, showing us that it wasn't a scary beetle like we thought but instead a harmless moth. "Bugs go in tummy?", you ask. I explain that bugs don't go into our tummies. You look scared. I assure you that bugs can be friendly. "Ladybugs scary?", you ask. "No, honey, ladybugs are sweet and come to visit every so often before flying away." I sing you the "Ladybug Ladybug" song. Only one verse, before you make that noise that only you can make, the noise that means "stop , something bad is coming". I stop.
I wonder how your day went. Your teacher told Daddy that you had a good day, considering your preschool program was closed today. You did well most of the day, only having a hard time at the end of the day. But I wonder what you are thinking. Most of the time you refuse to talk about your days, preferring instead to rehash an old story. You love to talk about the past, my Mishka.
This morning in the car you were singing to yourself the names of two of your friends from daycare. Over and over you sang these two names. "Are those your friends?" "Yes momma", you tell me. "What are the names of your friends from preschool?" "No friends at preschool, momma." I worry. I know that you have only been going to this preschool for about a month and I know that maybe some of the other children in your class aren't able to play like you do. But I also know that you don't like this new school. Are you learning to make friends? Will you be able to maintain friendships as you get older? Will you let others into your quiet world?
You climb off of me and start spinning around in a circle on your brother's rug. I sense you are on overload from our short conversation and I pick you up and carry you into your room, standing you up in your crib. I see you have managed to steal your brother's baby stuffed hamster and I watch as you tuck it gently under your blanket. You then take it out, bring it to your face and scream at it, then point your finger at it, saying "NO!" loudly. You then hug it and tuck it back in, next to you. Is this what love looks like to you, little guy?
Maybe tomorrow you will tell me how you day went. Maybe tomorrow you will allow me, for just a few moments, to live in the present with you. But if not, we can talk about whatever you want, little Mishka. Whatever you want.