Browned Hogs

When Simon was born, I couldn’t believe how soft his skin was. Compared with mine, of course, but even compared with Thea’s. I started putting baby oil on him and on Thea.

Simon usually wakes up to eat around four, and I like to get up with him. It’s a quiet time of day when I know I can watch him watch things, even if it often means I’ve had three cups of coffee before six.

This morning, I noticed him looking at the pattern the white window panes make against the dark night outside. Thea used to love this pattern, too, I remembered. Then I started thinking about how even though Simon’s eyes are wise and I hope he knows all about the deepest kind of love, he’s hardly left our house.

Since she’s started going to school, Thea has learned about things I’d deliberately kept from her: the existence of princesses, for example. She’s learned adorable and wonderful things I’d never have thought to teach her about: ground hogs, for example (which she calls “browned hogs”), the song “Rain Rain, Go Away,” and how to put on her coat by placing it upside down at her feet. She’s also learned about queen bees (whose status is signaled to Thea by a cupcake-patterned rain coat), the impropriety of nose picking, that some children use toilets and others use diapers, and the phrase “first __, then Thea.”

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