Cole is a climber. Perhaps he has been watching too many reruns of American Ninja Warrior with Madison. He is now at a level of skill which allows him to get on top of the plastic bins we’ve used to fortify the play area. He can also pull himself up onto the couch. Every time he does, he tries to climb over the back of the couch. The boy might understand pull and push, but he has no idea about gravity. He seems destined to learn the hard way.
Cole is also a team player. Last night I posted a picture of an angry Avery in the middle of mauling Cole. His face is stoic.Earlier tonight I saw Avery wrap her arms around his neck and shoulders and tackle Cole. It was cleaner than anything the Broncos did last night. Avery was fussy and tired; Cole just ate the tackle and whined until I pulled him from the rubble. He was fine after that. He loves Avery. Whenever she goes into one of her fits, Cole stops what he’s doing and looks at her. Once when he was close enough, he reached out for her and patted her arm as she wailed away. For the most part, Cole’s been so calm during Avery’s stay at the hospital. It’s as if he knew things were complicated so he decided he would not be one of the complications. I hope I never forget how well he behaved during those 7 weeks.
Finally, Cole is a piece of me that I’d like to somehow, some day, get back. I eventually make my way over to Cole and Avery when I get home from work. It seems like I always get to Cole first. I lay on my back and sit Cole on my stomach. “How was your day?” I ask. “What did you do?” I ask. He never answers, but sometimes he smiles and that is enough. I suck in and push out my gut and he enjoys the mini-carnival ride. His laugh is a magical cackle that has the ring of pure joy. I stand and hold him under the arms. I toss him up in the air and focus on his face. His face scrunches up as he squeals. Those ridiculous wings of hair on the sides of his head catch air on the way down and spread like those of sea birds gliding on a stiff ocean breeze. He makes the Evil Cole face when I catch him. If I hold him there too long, he grunts and shakes. He wants to fly again. Literally, I couldn’t do this all day. I am in horrible shape. Figuratively, though, I could. I would never get tired of it. The last year and a half has been an emotional gauntlet. I have made it through this latest particular leg, but I know I am changed. I stew more. I smile less. Little things frustrate me in a way that feels new. Thinking about the future fills me with anxiety and dread. I have difficulty focusing at certain times of day. I feel so heavy walking up the stairs to my living room. But Cole’s such a happy-go-lucky guy that I feel lighter just being around him. I remember that. But I can’t remember how to get back there.