We were lying on the couch, Obi lying on top of me with eyes still wet with tears and fingers in his mouth to soothe. He was happy now though just five minutes ago he had been screaming his head off, wanting to steal the vacuum cleaner from me. Olive was sitting at my feet and inquiring about a scratch on the inside of my ankle.
What happened, she asked.
Oh, Lando scratched me this morning.
Was it bleeding?
Yeah, I should put some cream on it.
She proceeded to examine the scratch then moved on to my foot.
What is this, she asked, aghast, pointing to my heel.
I laughed. That’s my skin.
It feels like dry skin, she exclaimed.
Because that’s what it is.
And what’s this, she asked, pressing her finger into the ball of my foot.
That’s dry skin too.
It’s like, it’s like old dry bread, she declared with glee.
And this, she said while prodding my big toe, is squishy like pancakes! It’s squishy like pancakes, she repeated herself because I was laughing and she liked how it sounded.
Let’s look at Obi’s foot, she said as she pulled off his sock that looked like a bear’s face.
His foot is so soft! Let’s look at my foot, she said as she pulled off her sock. She stuck it in my face and said, Look at it! What is it like?
I felt her slightly clammy foot and said, It’s soft like pancakes!
She laughed and said, So the younger you are the smoother skin you have, and the older you are the harder skin you have.
Then she was examining my big toe. What is this, she asked. There was a little piece of dirt wedged in the toenail.
It looks like mud! You have a muddy toe.
I don’t know why, but at that moment I thought it was the funniest thing ever and we were laughing and laughing.
Mommy, have you ever laughed so hard you had tears come out?
Yes, I said. It’s happening to me right now!
All the while, Obi was rubbing his face against mine and looking into my eyes with his nose pressed against mine to make sure we were cool. I had been cleaning our place, and he kept trying to take the vacuum cleaner out of my hands because he is obsessed with cleaning equipment. And when I said no, he cried and kept trying because he doesn’t care if you say no or don’t to him. So I walked him to our bedroom and had him stay there until he calmed down. That was my intention, but he kept coming back out crying and I kept dragging him back yelling no. Finally, he ran out of the room and into the living room and then it suddenly got quiet. I went in there and found him hugging Olive, collapsed on top of her. That was when he gave me a big hug and we lay on the couch talking about feet and how they feel like carbs. It was a nice break of cuddling and talking silly- a welcome break from cleaning toilets and sweeping up cat litter.