Oh, joy! My grandson has gone home. So, why do I feel as if he is still here? I hear a noise and think it is the door, and that he is running in and out of the house again. Then I remember it can’t be him because he went home yesterday.
There are fingerprints on the glass in the storm door. I could have sworn it was clean. I wipe them off and turn quickly to make sure they do not magically reappear, like they do when he’s around.
My feet stick to the floor as I walk across the kitchen and I remember how he spilled juice the other day. I though I had mopped it all up, but I must have missed part of it. Little reminders help me remember that he was here.
I find a forgotten toy. Only yesterday blocks created castles, tiny cars lined up to make a parking lot, and dinosaurs stalked the living room. Today there is only one forgotten car lost under the edge of a chair. The house is a house again.
The cat has returned from her hiding place under the bed, behind the desk, on top of the hutch, or wherever it is she goes to escape the terror of being hugged to death by a five year old. When my grandson is here, we nearly forget we have a cat.
The house is strangely quiet. When he is around the noise never ceases, at least until he is asleep. He talks, asks questions by the dozens, and on the rare occasions when he cannot think of something to say, he just makes noise. A whistle, a hum, a squeal or an unidentified sound from the back of the throat will do – as long as it’s a noise.
The television set is still turned to his favorite cartoon channel. I watch the Rug Rats, before I realize that I don’t have to watch cartoons because he isn’t here. I quickly change the channel. Thank goodness, I can watch what I want to now!
His shoes are by the door where he abandoned them, choosing to run around in sock feet. He isn’t really gone. The house is so full of the child’s possessions that it takes a while for him to go away entirely, even when he is not here.
My refrigerator is well stocked with fruity-flavored drinks. The box of chocolate breakfast cereal bars is empty. But what will I do with the extra milk in the fridge? I only drink 2% milk myself. How strange to know that I can fix adult food again instead of hot dogs and potato chips with ketchup.
The disk with his favorite computer game is still in the computer. Thank goodness he didn’t try to remove it without remembering to exit first again. I wipe fingerprints from the screen and clean the sticky keyboard. Why does he get everything so sticky? It’s because he is five years old, of course. What other reason do I need?
Laughter floats in from another room, but it is only the television set. It’s nice to be able to relax, not to have to worry about whether he is splashing water in the bathroom, sneaking cheese for the dog, or climbing on the backs of furniture. Yes, it really is nice to have my calm, clean house back again.
I listen to the silence, the empty silence, the cold and empty silence, and then I realize it’s just too quiet.
I can’t wait until he comes back again!