A small room in the Time & Space Limited warehouse contained all the magic a one-year-old could want: Crayons, markers, bottle caps, paper plates, wooden sticks, cardboard cylinders from spent toilet paper rolls and fistfuls of uncooked lentils that just begged to be tasted.
We were there to make musical instruments out of the recycling, however, not to play test kitchen.
For what seemed like hours, The Champ had been happily perched on a makeshift stool, drawing purple and red magic marker lines in an EKG-like pattern all over the paper-covered table in front of him.
When he’d filled his canvas, including the palms of both hands, he abandoned his instrument-making station — where his sister was still busy making guitars, kazoos and maracas — and moved into the corner where a handmade sand table offered tiny test drives of toy cars as well as fistfuls of fine-grain sand for the tasting.
With her own projects completed, Ittybit flitted from this room to the next, a larger open space where the band was setting up for its gig. She was so beside herself that she and herself were having some spirited conversation about what they would wear to the “rock show.”
Ittybit was still wearing tights and leotard from her dance class that morning, while Herself was itching to get into the pink flouncy dress, which had been packed for just such a special occasion. Though, neither could be still long enough to change.
I, however, was straddling both rooms, trying to take pictures and keep an eye on my progeny.
Her brother didn’t want to leave his little piece of heaven until he did leave it. When I poked my head into the room after snapping a few pictures of his sister waiting on the band, he was gone. I hadn’t seen him going past me so I head in the other direction: Toward out.
He wasn’t there either, thankfully.
I went back into the main space and stood staring blankly into the crowd of tiny jumping beans and their accompanying parents. It wasn’t until I looked above knee level that I saw somebody else’s mother raising her hand and pointing it downward.
She knew where he went.
As did the grandfatherly fellow who pointed in the direction of my little escape artist the next time I found myself without him.
I really miss the days when he’d happily hang out in the sling watching the world go by.
Neither of my children want to miss anything these days, yet their interests never seem to be in the same room.
“When are the rockers playing,” Ittybit bleated impatiently as I tried to wrestle the popcorn away from her whirling dervish of a brother who is, in turn, trying to wriggle his way back to the floor and the trail of snacks that his sister accidentally spilled.
“Soon,” I tell her, using the word that has become my catch-all response for all queries beginning with WHEN.
I sweep the kernels into the box and hide it as The Champ moves back toward the sand table.
She sways back and forth when Uncle Rock bursts onto the “stage,” a cleared triangle of concrete in front of a bistro set-up of a dozen or so carpet remnants. She clapped her hands, wagged her hips and jumped up and down on her little piece of green shag.
Next Ittybit was up and running; out of the room and out of sight. When she returned she had her new best friend, a girl she’d met while I had been chasing her brother; the “Kitars” they’d made from a paint sticks and paper plates; and a desire to be center stage.
It’s a good thing the band didn’t mind sharing the limelight.