Jack bounds out of bed, and appears in my bedroom doorway like some sort of magic. His lanky arms wrap tight around my neck as he falls into my bed. I pretend to be asleep until he turns and insists that I spoon his little frame, he melts and molds into my arms. This morning routine is almost religious for my four year old.
"Is it video game day mama?" he asks.
"No baby, but you can watch George if you want."
Jackie-boy breaks free from my tired embrace and a loud "woohoo!" follows him down the hall. I can be one of those obsessed mothers who worries that surely my kids brains are fried due to television marathons but today is not one of those days. And besides, it's Curious George, that little monkey has saved us in more ways than one.
During the entire year of three, Jack could not resist puddles. It's as if they called to him, like they knew his first name and had a window to his heart. This made for many wet curls, muddy brown socks and endless laundry. My hopes of ever being on time to preschool were pretty much a pipe dream; the call of the puddles was just too great.
It seemed like there were a million other tiny things like the puddles. Things like running his fingers through every groove of the brick on our old row house, pulling out the bottom toilet paper roll at the grocery store display or having to pick every dandelion in sight. A messy disaster could be waiting for me around any corner. On days with agendas and schedules, he could make me so crazy.
I'm sure there are very few moments in parenting where something or someone reveals a whole new way of thinking but thankfully this happened to me. After a particularly tiring day Jack and I were watching Curious George. We have read the books for years but something was different seeing him on the screen that day. It never occurred to me that I've really been rearing a monkey all along. This happy little monkey who must try everything, his inquisitiveness driving his every decision, his need to soak up every part of his world. This was my boy in so many ways.
So now my sometimes motherhood feelings of personal affliction feel so much less personal. I have a new admiration for the man in the yellow hat. It is a camaraderie shared by parents who are rearing joyous little monkeys everywhere.