Dottie wished she could keep them babies forever, hold them in the safe confines of the tiny space Chester had fenced in on one side of their duplex apartment where the worst either might suffer was a bump on the noggin from a tumble off the red and yellow plastic Playskool slide Dottie had purchased for the two of them to share. “Big boys know how to take turns,” she advised from her place at the kitchen window, wanting them to learn to get along with the world in spite of how ill-prepared she was to see them grow up.
Chester marveled at how easily Dottie took to the responsibility of parenting a child. He admired the dedication as he labored to muster her level of commitment, struggled to comprehend his wife’s newfound baby fixation. He couldn’t wait to see the little men they would grow to be but was not inclined to descend into the same goo-goo, gaga type of smothering affection. But then, he hadn’t carried them, hadn’t been called on to provide sustenance from womb to bosom to the brightly colored tip of a rubber-coated eating utensil meant to hold their interest as she coaxed them to make their way to the bottom of the bowl tinted the same shade as the spoon—all gone!
Chester’s strong parenting instincts kicked in as each boy hit five or six, ready to start T-ball. By seven or eight, the two were best buds, his little man accompanying him to the dojang to begin martial arts training. The age difference afforded Langston a three-year head start in learning to relate to their father, drawing Trajan and his mother that much closer. The balance promised to correct itself so long as Chester saw fit to stay, provided he and Dottie developed some means to hold it all together, affording Trajan a few years at the center of attention after Langston had flown the coop. None of them ever made it that far.
Both had been on hand to witness their sons’ first steps, spread out across from one another, calling for baby boy to stumble back and forth between the two anchors in his world. But she had been there to see all the herky-jerky early attempts, the tumbling falls, the hard backward plops onto their padded bottoms. She celebrated the eventual triumph, witnessed the satisfaction on their shining faces as they clapped with flat, inarticulate baby hands upon realizing they could walk, their determined little wills poised like never before to decide the places they needed to go (in Trajan’s case, generally opposite from where she might want him to be; Langston seemed content to toddle behind her, lost in a world conjured inside his imagination.) They were Chester’s boys without question. But they were her babies first, justifying any compulsion she felt to lament their departure even before either boy had slipped beyond her grasp.
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