big messes + small deceptions / by Christina Rosalie

Today was all about getting things ready for winter: tossing our fat ghoulish pumpkins into the compost and raking up piles of wet leaves, mostly to be jumped in by Sprout and Bean. It was cold and our cheeks were pink after an hour spent outdoors, mowing the lawn a final time for the season and gathering up the stray bits of bark left from the wood that we stacked. Inside, after pulling off muddy boots and wet gloves we made hot chocolate: unsweetened cocoa and sugar melted with a bit of boiling water, then stirred into frothed milk with a touch of cream. Little boy moustaches, happy grins, and only one spill. “Uh oh, uh oh” Sprout exclaimed as his drink pooled into his lap.

By the end of every day my boys are covered head to tow with the evidence of their days: mud and chocolate, paint on their shirts, pasta sauce on their elbows. Are all little boys messy, or are mine particularly so? Reckless in glee and sensory delight. They’ve both grown this month; a late autumn growth spurt. One of my favorite things about our house is the corner wall between the kitchen and the den where we mark their growth with stubby pencils or whatever pen we can find.

“Let’s see if I grew!” Bean will exclaim gleefully after eating a particularly enormous serving of pasta or a heaping plate of blueberry pancakes.

Once we were a little overzealous and recorded his growth: a remarkable half inch in a month. The following month we discovered our error: he’d shrunk. Or so it seemed. The line made from his head to the square edge of the book was below the mark we’d already made.

“Did I really shrink?” Bean asked wide eyed.

“You did,” I lied without blinking. “That’s what happens when you don’t eat your veggies.”

Oh yes I did.