I’m in my office, sorting through some manuscript notes. Cian walks in with a handful of toy dinosaurs, dumps them onto the carpet, and sidles up beside me, draping himself against my side in the way little children do, so that he’s kind of Velcro’d against me, one whole seam of his body zipped up against mine.“What are you doo-ing?” he asks. His hand is resting on my shoulder and he looks at my computer.
“I’m working, buddy,” I answer.
“But where’s Daddy?”
“Daddy’s in his office. He’s working, too.”
“But he can’t work. Or you can’t work. You have to work one at a time, not to-gev-er.”
“I understand, Key, but sometimes we both have to work at the same time.” I worry for a second, concerned that he’s going to have a hard time adjusting to our new, back-to-the-usual routine. It’s enough to make me completely lose my concentration.I move out to the deck. It’s under a big shaded umbrella, and I set up my computer and notes and manuscript-in-progress on the rickety table. Cian asks if he can join me. Of course, I say. So he makes a couple of trips, his pajama shirt folded up like a basket to hold his toy dinosaurs, and starts to set up shop on the wooden floorboards. He’s chattering, talking in a nonstop stream of commentary, and I wonder how I’m going to do this–throw myself into writing, parent him. I’ve done it before, of course, and handled it all pretty well, but that was with his sisters. Cian’s always seemed less independent. Writing always seems harder to do because he demands so much of my attention.
Or so I thought.
I snap a couple of pictures–there’s nothing better than when toddlers arrange their toys, military-style. It’s amazing to me how a child who can’t eat a taco without spilling its contents into his lap can line up dozens of toys in perfectly spaced formation. Cian explains what he’s done, asks me to take a picture of the whole set-up. And then he sits down and looks me full in the face.“Okay,” he says. “I’m going to play now.”
I’m being dismissed.
I turn back to my work. There’s a moment of silence before Cian picks up the stream of conscious talking again, asking questions and describing what he’s doing. He’s playing, of course. And I’m sitting at the table beside him, laughing to myself but staring at the words in front of me, willing them to make sense again. That’s the difference–he plays super well by himself, just like Saoirse did (Quinlan was a whole other story, but she also napped)–he just talks the entire time he’s doing it.
Cian’s in the yard below me now, chattering away. He walks up the stairs of the deck every couple of minutes to fill me in on what he’s doing, then wanders back to play. And it hits me: if a three-year-old can multi-task this well–if he can make up dream worlds while describing them at the exact same time–I guess it’s about time his forty-year-old mother learns how to do it, too.Okay. I’m going to play now.