Green Striped Shirts (and other relics of childhood)

I called Mona last night, and had the unexpected pleasure of having a certain goofball answer the phone.

“Hi Lovey!”
(with excitement in his voice once he realizes it’s me) “Wait a minute – WHAT DAY IS IT TODAY?!”

“It’s Tuesday. I guess you remember where we’re going on Thursday, huh?”
“To see DONOVAN!!!”
“Yes, we are!”

farmer's market, summer 2013(I proceed to lay out the schedule for him, because, you know, every almost-six-year-old loves an impromptu Franklin Covey reading…)

He is certain he cannot wait a moment longer:
“You have to come get me today!”
“I can’t, Lovey – I’m at work.”
(like the idea has never occurred to him:) “You’re working today?”
“Yes, I have to work so that we can afford to go have fun!”

The conversation continues, complete with a full recap of the owie on his toe (I thought he said at first that he hurt his stomach, which with Elijah always makes me nervous) and a little bit of random poop talk thrown in just because he’s a boy…just because he can.

I ask if I can talk to his mama, and he informs me that she is at his granny’s house. “Do you wanna talk to my daddy?” 
no“No, your dad’s not going to know where to look. I need you to help me…I need you to find your green shirt with the white stripes. Do you know which shirt I mean?” 

He assures me that he does, and promptly walks over to his plastic dresser and starts pulling things out, narrating as he goes along. “Oh wait…that’s my orange shirt. I gotta look in all my clothes!” “Wait, what’s this?” and any number of precocious Elijah-isms.

(I wish I could write these conversations down, every single one of them. I wish conversations could be snapped like a photograph, framed to cherish..)

I try to tell him that he does not have to find it right. this. minute. He just needs to find it before Wednesday evening.

It’s important to me that he find his shirt. Don-Don already knows where his is. I need the green striped shirts, because they me keep track of two little boys when we go to places like the zoo. And to be honest, I need them too because they freeze a moment in time for me.

green striped shirt hailing a cabIt seems like I am always finding matching shirts, or hoodies, or…it is my homage, perhaps, to the brother-like bond they share.

And as much as I would like to, I don’t have language to express to this little boy how precious these days are, how little time there is to soak up all of these memories along with the chlorine that will turn their legs to chalk.

Because Donovan leaves in September. For Texas. Not like Chicago this time…not a day trip…no more impromptu visits at random times.

Texas is a long, long drive. Texas is a plane ride away. It’s a greater distance, and not just geographically. It’s another thing that feels like it will weaken the bond between these two little boys that has been so strong.

(And don’t tell anybody, but it’s a gigantic loss for me, too. Donovan gives me so much joy, even in his pouty moments…they both bring me joy, and never more than when they are together.)

How do you explain to a soon-to-be first grader that these are holy moments, and that, like most things in life, they are so very impermanent?  How do you tell them to cherish every moment, to not waste precious time on minor arguments or initial shyness? I’m not sure I can. Half the time I can barely tell myself this.

I need more hellos.
buddies forever

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