I wake to the smell of coffee brewing in the machine. I can hear Dylan pour himself a cup and then the metal rattle of the fridge as he grabs, uses and replaces the cream. The trash can lid plastic thumps open and closed with Splenda wrappers.
Sometimes he remembers to offer me a cup.
Barn door to his room slides closed.
First period. “I know mom! I already logged on.”
Half way through the period, barn door slide and he says, “I’m hungry.”
I make him three eggs and a piece of toast and he heads back to his room to eat in private. Curled around his plate watching videos about raising the minimum wage and why it is crucial.
He comes for a second cup of coffee and says, “Families can not make it on minimum wage mom. Did you know that?” I am trying to follow what a teacher is saying in my meeting on the screen and I know he says more than this but I miss it. I remember to call, “Can you tell me more about the minimum wage later?”
The barn door slides closed.
Second period. He comes out to tell me how cute the dog is curled into a tight ball with his new haircut. We ooohhh and aaahhhhh together at our sweet baby. I say, “Why are you not in second period?” He answers, “I am.” I think we have different definitions of what in class means.
Barn door again.
Third period. I shout from the dining room, “Third period.” Both boys yell back, “I know.” They have been home for school for the rest of last year from March through June and all of this year. Most days the apartment feels just right but on some days, the days when people bristle with restrictions and loneliness, it is way too small.
A few minutes before fourth period Dylan emerges again and I ask if I can give him a birthday squeeze. He leans in and down. Almost 6 feet. Down to my five foot and change self. I am happy for every one of these. Today I squeeze longer and say, “I am very proud of you and I will love you forever.” He kisses my cheek and says, “I know. Me too.”
Barn door again.
A few minutes before fifth period and Dylan comes out to ask, “What’s for dinner? I’m hungry.” I answer, “Birthday dinner. Your choice.” “The diner I think,” he says. The fridge opens and Dylan heads back to the barn door with a fistful of cheese sticks. Three I think.
A few minutes after the start of sixth period, Dylan comes out of the room looking sad. This was his second birthday during Covid. He did not want a present. He could not have a party. I said, “What about a computer shopping spree in your favorite online stores?” Thoughtful face. A small head nod. “Maybe,” he says.
Barn door closing again.
Almost 6,000 days of life. So much of it these days happens behind the barn door. But at least the door keeps opening. And it opens a lot each day. I will take it with a giant grateful heart.