Darrow is off to New York to attend his brother’s wedding.  So it’s just me and little T for the weekend.  I don’t know why, but it made me a little giddy thinking about the prospects of just the two of us bounding around the city, running around the Inner Harbor, shopping, heading off to the play ground.  Because of my schedule, most weeks I am out of the house before the little tike wakes and come home just in time to eat dinner, read him a story or two and then put him down.  It isn’t often that I have him all to myself.   

We ended up doing lots of fun kid things, but what emerged on the top of my list for the whole weekend was probably the trip to the grocery store.  Sure we ran around crazy-like at the playground, and had a thrilling ride on the light-rail, but the goofy games we played with each other, shouting through the aisles of the grocery store were pretty fun.  This was not your dreaded screaming kid in the shopping cart kind of outing—at least not that kind of screaming.  In between picking up items on the grocery list, we played a game where I say some gibberish, pointing and prodding him in the chest like I was making some grand accusation.  He in turn points back at me and tries to contradict my gibberish with some of his own.  But before he can make his full case against me, I cut him off with wild faces and even wilder accusations, “you bag-geutened the schnudle, and now I am going to spicken-spacken your gazzuten.”  All the while he is cackling about each syllable of adult gibberish.  I kept wondering what other parents might make of our ruckus.    

What I discovered though it that most of this weekend for us was full of quiet moments.  Very early Saturday morning, I heard T’s door close and found him standing at the foot of the stairs his face all crinkled, his little cheeks streaked with tears.  I asked him what he was doing and he told me about his dream of the lady.  Our friends who have two children around T’s age live in a beautiful center hall colonial and standing before their staircase is a six-foot bronze deco-type statue of a woman.  Aside from covering it with a sheet, the two of us have spent considerable time showing our son that the woman isn’t real.  Apparently our efforts have failed to seep into his subconscious.  Afterwards I told him he could climb into bed with me, since with Darrow being gone there would be much more room for him to flail around.  It was a peaceful night of slumber for both of us. 

As we trundled through Saturday, we moved closer and closer toward one of my goals—naptime.  Just after lunch we did some artwork which seemed to set the stage for an easy transition for both of us to go upstairs.  After reading a few stories on the bed, we pulled his little blankets up to our chins and laid next to each other under the ceiling fan.  As we lay there talking quietly about the rest of the day, I turned to him and asked if he was tired.  He looked back at me and said, “no Papa, I’m happy.”  He’s reached a stage in development where he has begun to talk more and more about how he’s feeling.  It so surprised me and touched me that tears started rolling down my face.  Then he said, “How are you Papa?”  To which I responded that I was happy too.  He quickly disagreed with me and said, “Papa, you’re sad.  You’re crying.”  Rather than explain what I was feeling, I wiped my eyes, shushed him and within a few minutes we were asleep.     

After our nap, we made a late afternoon trip down to the Inner Harbor.  I knew that the getting there would be as much a part of the experience as being there.  As the train pulled up for the ride into town, he got so excited he started to shake and this wild look came over his face.  After we tooled around for a few hours we made our way back home.  Sitting on the first car of the train just a few rows behind the engineer, it became clear we were definitely closing in on Mr. T’s bedtime.  When we passed by the last two stations, he slid his index and middle fingers into his mouth, and sat back in my lap with his head against my chest.  As I stroked his long curly hair, I realized that there would be other children sitting in my lap someday and I would do the same for them.  I realized for the first time that in light of the prospects of losing our foster son, that I could love another child just as deeply and fully as I do him.  In love there would be no comparisons, and the fear that I could never feel this way again about a child disappeared.