"No, you're the Twicewatops, Momma!" Finn yells. "You're coming to get me!"
I form a low growl in my throat and stomp my feet, "Grrrrrrrr!!" I rumble, and curl my fingers into claws.
Tears spring into Finn's eyes. "Twicewatops don't growl, Momma!" he cries in frustration. "They ROAR! Like this!" He screws up his face and lets out a mighty roar.
"RRRRAAAAAWWRRR!" I shout. "I'm coming to GET YOU!!"
"NOOOOOOOO!" Finn says, and starts to cry in earnest. "Twicewatops don't TALK! You're not good at this at ALL!"
Tell me about it, kid, I think. We've been going back and forth like this for over twenty minutes, as I struggle to adhere to the ever-changing rules of his imaginary game.
"How about we play a board game," I sigh, my body tense with frustration. I try to keep my voice bright, but Finn hangs his head and sniffs loudly.
"Now you're mad at me," he says. "It's not my fault you are so bad at Dinosaur." He shuffles off, looking forlorn, leaving me with a stone of guilt in my chest. I'm aching to get back to my studio, work on jewelry. I cringe at the pang of excitement I feel that the game is over.
I hear the television click on in the next room as I plunk down at my work station. My fingers mold the wire, and my body calms from the familiar repetition of doing, of creating, but my mind is reeling.
I hate imaginary play, I think. It's not like I didn't offer to play with him.
Twist, twist, twist. My fingers fly over the wire, bending it into whimsical shapes. I slide a bead on here and there, and hold my blossoming creation up to the light, admiring the way it is taking shape.
"Mooooooom!" I hear from the next room. "When are we going to da big playgwound?"
"At eleven o'clock," I reply, striving to keep my voice chipper, acting as if I can't wait to go to the playground. In anticipation of his next four questions I shout, "that's in one hour, which is sixty minutes, which isn't a long time; it's about as long as two television shows".
Great, now I'm parceling out time in increments of television shows, I think, silently chastising myself.
I finish the piece, attach it to some sturdy leather cording, and package it up to mail later this afternoon. It's a logical time to stop and take Finn to the playground, but every cell in my body aches to keep going, to lose myself in creating. I peek into the next room, where Finn sits on the floor, slack-jawed, watching Phineas and Ferb.
I tiptoe away, hoping he doesn't turn around and see me and ask to go to the playground again. I feel a twist of guilt in my gut, an old familiar ache. I'm sneaking around my own house to avoid playing with my kid; the thoughts come, right on schedule. What kind of mother does this?
I search for my Gentle Observer, the one who assures me that a busy mother sneaks around her own kid; a mother who is juggling a growing business with the demands of raising young kids. But She is nowhere to be found. Her silence unnerves me.
I pick up some more wire and search through a pile of colorful stones I keep in a bowl at my desk. I run my fingers over their cool, smooth surfaces and marvel at the vast array of colors, of textures. Under my skilled touch, they transform into art. They always yield to my wishes.
"Ferb! I know what we're going to do today!" Phineas says from the television in the next room. I think of Finn sitting cross-legged on the floor, bored, and the guilt comes again, stronger this time. But he's quiet, I think. Take advantage of his silence, and keep at it.
I select a pretty green stone, one that catches the light in such a way that it glows. I begin wrapping it in gold wire, pleased at the contrast, and then I sigh and place it back down onto my desk.
It's no use. I face the cold reality that I'm never going to want to stop what I'm doing to play Dinosaur, go to the playground or play a board game. Finally, my Gentle Observer shows up. They won't be young forever, she reminds me. The day is right around the corner when you will ache at the memory of your son's upturned face, asking you to play dinosaur. You'd be wise not to lose sight of that.
I get down on my hands and knees, a low roar forming in my throat. "rrrrrraaaaawwWWRRR!" I shout, and Finn flies around the corner, a broad smile on his face.
"MOMMA!! You're a WEAL TWICEWATOPS!" he shouts. He giggles and runs in place. "Now, COME GET ME!"
As I chase after him on my hands and knees, roaring at the top of my lungs, I watch his little bare feet fly across the floor. He laughs, his head thrown back, arms waving madly, and I think: Right now. Right here. This is good.