How many sticky tootsie pops does it take to melt a heart?

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Right now the most handsome little black boy is sitting beside me handing me an imaginary mouse out of his ear. Youvendjy leans back, both hands on the floor behind him and lets his big belly stick out unashamed over his Husker shorts.  He picks up his too big glass bottle of limonade and waddles over to me “Apewil m’ chita ave’m?” he asks, then gives a big look as he remembers and corrects himself “ave’w.” I smile and nod as he made his way right next to my side. He polps down with a bump and a “uff” from me as he sits on me instead of beside me.  He is beautiful as he smiles between gulps of his limonade.

Today I have the privilege of spending with this boy that I love so very much. A date of sorts as Lala goes to Port to get her passport renewed. Some days are bitter sweet. Today has been like that. This morning Youvendjy was in a lot of trouble in my class.  Starting out by spitting on another kid, peeing his pants on purpose and finally throwing a rock because he was angry all over a period of just an hour. After he was finished with all of his punishments Tia looked at Lala and I and said “I do not know how he is still your friend at the end of the day.” Sometimes I wonder too.

But today after school he happily climbed on the back of my moto and we headed for home. We both had showers and then sat down beside my bed. He had a sucker in one hand, a piece of bread in the other and his big bottle of cold limonade in between his legs. And he sat down on my lap as if the mornings happenings never happened, with a big smile on his face. Every time I took a drink of my coke he would jab his sticky sucker at my hand and then his bread so he too could take a big gulp of his drink. I couldn’t help but smile. He wanted to be like me. Do just like me. We imagined he had a mouse in his pocket, then his ear, then he ate it so it was in his mouth and then tummy. He finished his drink and turned the glass bottle into a truck and is now zooming it all over the room.

I don’t deserve moments like these. Moments of pure joy, innocent happiness. I have to simply sit back and suck it all in. Store it in memory for tomorrow morning when he makes more trouble and I have to give him another punishment. But it is this inbetween time, the times of unasked for kissed, smiles across the room, reading to him before bed and having him repeat all the words of the well worn book. It’s the “Apewil lalin!” as he sees the moon on the walk home. It’s the smile on his face as he falls asleep. It’s this place in my heart that is his and only his.

It’s having to put this down because he is asking to read a story…

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