Day Twenty-Five: Reverence
Lenny wobbles across the lawn towards his father, thrusting his short legs in front of him, dragging a length of orange skipping rope behind. He has been holding the rope since he found it hanging by the door three hours ago. He sucks and drools on the green plastic handles, trips repeatedly over the part that gets caught up under his feet, and squeals with glee as he flaps his arms and rolls it through the air. His most pressing dilemma thus far has been how to eat snacks and still hold both ends of the rope.
His mother has fitted him with boots for the occasion of a cool, fall evening fire, but the extra three-quarters of an inch in height is cumbersome for him and he falls often. He grunts, huffs, sighs, and coos his way back to his standing height of 25 inches and trundles on. Finally, after detouring around the dog and a brief sojourn under the legs of a lawn chair, he has arrived at John's side by the campfire. Heiss, John says, pointing at the fire. Kerstin, Lenny's mother, is German, and they speak to him in both languages. We are all brushing up on our German this week. Lenny smiles at his father and repeats the action, Heiss.
Last night, just after they'd arrived, his reverence for degrees of temperature spiked dramatically when, despite repeated warning from us all, he touched the wood stove accidentally. It was a minor burn with a quick recovery, but now each time he passes the danger zone, he veers back a little and whispers, heiss under his breath. He looks at the fire again, watches the flames flick and climb over one another, points to the smoke rising through curling heat waves and says again, quietly and unsmiling this time, Heissssss, Papa. Then he turns back to the dog, flaps his arms, spits out a shrill squeak and a foot stomp, and adds, Woo-woof, before barrelling towards her with both arms out, gripping the green handles of the skipping rope with his tiny tight fists.