It's Friday afternoon, and I'm flinging food into pots. The boys, who earlier explained that they wereNOTtiredNOnottiredNOPE are asleep. And then asleep some more. Ultimately, the Eldest will sleep for roughly four hours, but the Toddles, our current nap champion, comes wandering down the stairs. Plops himself into a gigantic armchair and props his feet up on the ottoman.
He sits there, eyes nearly closed, a cloud of tousled red curls, pink cheeks and a few, faint freckles. I sit down on the ottoman. Hello, I say. He cracks an eyelid. Hello.
The eyelid drops back down as the kitchen begins offering up a fabulous caramelized onion smell. I kiss his cheek and head for the stovetop.
Hello, he murmurs, and I grin. Kiss him on the other cheek. He smiles, his eyes still closed, and it is then that the Kissing Monster pounces.
I'm so sorry, I said, but I've just got to mooch** you. He holds out an arm, so that I can kiss the inside of his elbow, and it's like we've dropped a pair of years, skipping back to the uber-cuddly days when he rode on my back, wrapped up like a toddler-taco.
But then he pauses, tilts his head and looks at me critically. Um. I say, what's up?
He's quiet, thinking about it. Then, I know that you haven't had much practice, Mum, but your mooches aren't very good.
I should note here that there's a lot of history to this moment, history that if I'm ever brave enough to hit 'publish' on a certain post, would become clear. But it might help to know that once, we were the house of Muchas Smoochas, the hunting grounds of the dread Kissing Monster. We still are, but less so - partly for age-appropriate reasons, and partly for oh, complicated ones. So take my word for it: ouch.
Okay, I say, maybe I need practice. Any advice?
Hm, says the Toddles, taking his role as advisor very seriously. Well, a good mooch is a kiss that has a tiny bit of love in it. He pauses, and thinks, while I try not to ask whether mine had love in it. And it has a sound.
I try again, this time with sound.
That could work, he tells me, thoughtfully.
***mooch = smooch = kiss