Rocking Chairs are the Only Modes of Traveling Backwards

Together, We Rock
or
Rocking Chairs are the Only Modes of Traveling Backwards
or
After Bath Time but Before Tomorrow

Sitting on the lower bunk, my two year old reads from memory, and by reads, I mean recites, and by memory, I mean my son is a genius. On his lap, Cliffard's Barnyard Animals, a bedtime staple for my youngest, my last. His chubby finger points to each animal. His whole body acts out their sounds. Moo, whoo. Tweet, squeak. Sometimes he messes up the sentence structure, but never the rhyme scheme. When he finishes, he tosses his book to the floor, a bad habit he learned from me. I need to organize his bookshelf so that I can fit everything on it again. But not tonight. Not while my son is reading to me, not while he's smiling and pointing and mimicking the animals on the pages. Not while he's turning each cardboard page with precision and concentration. There'll be other days for organizing bookshelves; my older kids taught me that. Tonight, I scoop him into my arms and haul him off his unmade bed. We sit together in the rocking chair. He presses his cheek into my left shoulder, then my right, then my left again. He smushes his arms between his body and mine. I breath into his almost-dry hair, the smell of his PJ Masks' shampoo hovering around us. He asks me to hum by saying: mm-mm-mm, mommy, mimicking me like he mimics the animals in his book. My back presses into the thin rails of the rocking chair and I feel how it holds me, holds us. Together, we rock. He huffs and fidgets. I hum. The house grows quiet around our sway, our forward and backward motion. Rocking chairs are the only modes of traveling backwards. My older kids taught me this, too. Tomorrow he will be one day older. One bit bigger. He'll move from reciting to reading. The board books will become paperbacks will become reams filled with his own words: math and english. History. But not tonight. Tonight, his body grows heavy in my arms. His limbs fall loose and his cheeks puff out. He draws deep breaths with a thin whistle of his nose. Forward, backward. Together. We rock.

Kristin Kozlowski
writer/creative type
Teacher