We picked out three books.
“Can I put them in my new backpack?”
He’s wearing a lime green LLBean book pack over his French blue polo shirt, and the hair on the crown of his head is sticking up like a crest on a tiny yuppie bird.
“Not yet, honey. We have to check them out first. Can Mama look for a few books?
I start to peruse the stacks, with my offspring tailing behind, clutching the Railway Rhymes book that is his new “favorite.” He spies a table, with chairs, in the center of the fiction section. We are at a small branch library near our home, and it’s really just one big open room, divided by the stacks.
“Mama? Can I sit at the table and read my book?”
So, I help him into a chair, still wearing his lime green backpack, and he opens up Railway Rhymes, and talks to me as I browse. The table is a little too high, so his arms, folded on his flat-opened book, are high enough to rest his chin on.
“Mama! Look at this long train!”
I look back over my shoulder.
“Wow, sweetie. That is a long train. Library Voice, please.”
“Mama, is this James?”
I squint across the section at his book. Thank goodness for the large illustrations.
“No, baby. That’s Salty. Like your squeezy bath toy.”
“Mama this is kind of like my Thomas book at my house…”
“Yes, darlin’. It is. It has rhymes for each engine, though, instead of long stories. Remember your Library Voice.”
And then I turn back a third time. I see him, my mostly sweet preschooler sitting at a grown up table with his backpack on his shoulders and his legs swinging, with his book in front of him, wearing the smile he reserves for me and our adventures together. I really see him, and I’m swamped by it. It’s not like I ever forget that I love him, but at this moment I’m literally immobilized by it.
And then another woman browsing says, “Oh, isn’t he sweet? How old is he?” and the bubble breaks. I answer her, thank her, and then begin to collect our things to check out.