the newest game i play with cyrus: i ask him for a smooch- with my lips puckered like a cartoon character.
he says no. firmly.
i drop my head in defeat, stick out my bottom lip in an exaggerated pout. eyes shut. soft sniffle.
he asks "are you sad?" i nod with the slightest movement of my sad, sad head- so heavy with rejection it can barely move.
"smooch?" he asks, teases really. his voice has hope in it and you can already hear the smile.
i perk up- pop open my eyes wide and pucker up again as i made a hum sound that is hard to describe with words. it's not really a "yum" sound but has some of the same flavor to it. he laughs at this. this is the reaction he wants.
he puckers his small mouth then smooches me. his lips are so tiny and cool. they are like bird kisses. his eyelashes are never-ending like the rays you used to draw in math class. his plump cheeks fit in my hands like eggs in a nest.
and then we begin the song:
I LOVE IT!
I LOVE IT!
I LOVE IT! I LOVE IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT!
the last "it" is drawn out until it becomes deep and growly like a monk's chant. as we sing this we are laughing, bumping heads, tickling, and/or rolling around on the wide sheets of the bed after a warm bath.
then cyrus says "the end" as he throws up his hands in a french-inspired way.
and it stops. until it starts again.
he never gets tired of this it seems. ten times in a row is not unusual. this game has morphed but it always resolves around the smooch. the essential meeting of the lips in a moment of affection. a strange ritual, some might say. however, when i think about all the things that could come out of my mouth i don't think any of them do justice to the love a mama has for her child. there's whole religions built upon that emotion. so a kiss- well, it's the closest thing i've got to explain this love that's got me.
our ritual of smooching also reminds me something about our human spirit. yes, we crave affection and laughter. and all of us have that goofy, teasing, laughing, loving toddler inside of us that is delighted by the love of another. hopefully, we each had at least one moment of gleeful dancing and giggles that still bubble and sparkle inside of our eyes, our hearts, our souls. from a grandparent or sibling or papa or auntie. a moment when another person forgot everything in their world except for you in that moment of life-celebration.
and if you didn't have that or if you have forgotten that joyful sensation- i am truly sorry. the good news is- you woke up this morning and so you have chance to do it now. laugh, roll on the floor like a puppy, make strange faces in the mirror, dance to old cartoon theme songs in your pajamas and make no excuses to anyone who thinks you might be crazy for your bliss. actually, grab their arm and drag them right into your toddler-flashback.
when you are winded with your effort- remember the essential ending: singing "I LOVE IT!" loudly, off-key with a grin until you melt off into that place of "everything is better than just ok."