When the two little neighbor kids came over yesterday, I warned them that someone was coming to fix our furnace.
“I’m going to call you Mom when the furnace guy is here,” Little Biker Boy said, “Don’t laugh and don’t say you’re not.”
It’s a game the two kids play all the time. “Let’s pretend you’re our Mom.”
I had actually intended to send them home when the furnace guy arrived — they can be very difficult kids — but it seemed important to Little Biker Boy that they stay. “We’ll be good,” he promised.
“Okay, you two need to play quietly in the living room while I’m talking to the furnace guy,” I said. I dragged the Tupperware container of lego blocks out from under the orange tree and dumped it onto the floor for Ponytail. I gave them each a couple of cookies.
“I’m going to sit on the stairs and play with my cars,” said Little Biker Boy, “Like a normal kid.”
When Furnace Guy arrived, Ponytail abandoned the lego blocks to come and cling to my legs, jumping up and down and screaming, “She’s my Mommy!” Subtlety is not her forte.
Shaggy Hair Boy came to my rescue and took Ponytail into the living room to play with the lego blocks while I talked to Furnace Guy.
But Little Biker Boy sat quietly on the stairs right next to me, intently playing with his cars. It’s the longest I’ve ever seen him sit still. A couple times before Furnace Guy descended into the basement, he called out to me. “Mom, can you get me a glass of milk? Mom, can I have another cookie?” But he did it politely.
After Furnace Guy finished repairing the furnace, he and I stood talking in the foyer. We talked about the furnace, the weather, and the holidays that had just gone by. Furnace Guy, like me, grew up in this area so we compared notes about places we’d gone to when we were younger.
“You remember the old store on the main street of Train Track Village? The one run by those very old people?” he asked. I remembered it well. We bought jeans there, stiff and unshrunk, and the old lady would follow us out yelling, “Do you need any socks? Any underwear?”
During the conversation, I was aware of Little Biker Boy sitting on the carpeted stairs behind me. He was playing quietly, much like any of my own sons would have at that age. He was half-hidden by the railing, but I could feel him watching me, aware that he was part of the scene.
After Furnace Guy left, I gave Little Biker Boy a hug, “You behaved really well.”
“I told you I would,” he said. "Can we stay and play a little longer?"