It’s the barely perceptible shushing noise that tips me off. Cian, quietly, slyly, opening the door to his oldest sister’s room–the one she keeps closed to keep her sacred space free of American Girl-mauling dogs and three-year-old little brothers–then slowly, carefully, easing it closed again.
I let him go for a few minutes, maybe five, partly because I don’t feel like playing Mean Mom right now, and partly because I’m a terribly nosy person, and curious to see what could be so fascinating in Saoirse’s room that he wanted to sneak in. After a bit, I open the door, look around, and discover him sitting on the other side of the bunk bed, playing with the Shopkins SK keeps there, on an old rolling office bookcase of my mom’s that Saoirse insists on keeping. I don’t know if I say hello or if he just hears me come in, but Cian looks up at me with a smile, then places the toys back on the shelf where he got them.
“I putting them back, Mommy,” he says, shifting his arm out while keeping his eyes on me, as if he thinks that if I keep eye contact with him I won’t know what he’s been doing in the first place.
This is the room where he sleeps at night, his fear of being alone so exhausting to everybody in the house that we let him sleep in here, alongside the sister who also stays here at night because she doesn’t like being alone. Cian knows that if his sisters were here, there’d be yelling, pushing possibly, screamed pleas for me to get him out of Saoirse’s stuff already. I know he knows this, from the way he backs away from the shelf, each toy exactly where it belongs. He spies a toy car on top of the covers of the bottom bunk. “That’s Kin-lin’s,” he says, and picks it up. He walks around the bed and places it, too, where he thinks it’s supposed to go, in the pink bucket we use to hold the girls’ stuffed animals. He smiles at me again before taking my hand and leading me back out of the room. I watch him reach to the door’s handle and expertly pull it closed, as silently as he opened it.
The door latch clicks, and Cian claps his hands together. He grins up at me with a sigh. He’d made it.
I follow him down the stairs then, quiet. Wondering why we so often make noise when we try to get what we want, and if sometimes, maybe a lot of the time, it’s best to just quietly work our way forward to get to the same destination. Simple. Brave and humble, both at the same time. Being really, really savvy about when to use time. Maybe sneaking into your sister’s room can be the same as writing a novel, or training for a half marathon, or renovating a house. Maybe the quiet wins are sometimes the most rewarding. I don’t know.