where a baby made tomorrow is again

Tonight the four of us are sitting at the table doing schoolwork. Sophie completes a few pages and grows tired of difficult subtraction problems. She and Ralph leave to take a bath and I’m sitting with Nels on my lap as he finishes his Language Arts book (reading so well!) and quickly moves on to the new Math volume acquired today. It’s funny; he can perform well at first-grade level math even though in writing an answer down he still sports a backwards 9 now and then, and his 8s can end up “sidewards” (his word of course). I literally cannot tell you where he learned math because they weren’t really doing it in his preschool and this is the first time I’ve sat with him to do it; I think he’s been snuffling around in the various workbooks that accrue in our household.

I watch him discover “8 + 2 = 10” without using his fingers and his body jumps and he looks up at me with his eyes alight and the Iron & Wine song “Someday the Waves” is playing and my hand is in the wet tangle of hair at the base of his brown little neck and I feel tears coming on, because how did my baby end up sitting on my lap doing sums?

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