The day had been quiet and enjoyable. Noah and I spent the afternoon at my sisters. We watched the Euro Soccer final while Noah literally sat on his cousins and played Nintendo, talked up a storm and ate only snack food.
Noah wondered if he could sleep over at their house. My sister was obliged to disappoint him.
“You know Noah, Vince gets up at noon (that’s the 15 yr old), and Melina’s gone to her summer job before 8 (that’s the 18 yr old). Later, in summer, we’ll work it so that you can sleep over a couple of days when they’ll be around. Maybe combine it with a trip to La Ronde.”
Sometimes he’s so reasonable it pains me.
On the way back home, Melina gave us a lift proud of her new learner’s permit. As we rode over the bridge we had a full panoramic view of La Ronde, the big amusement park which is Noah’s Valhalla.
“Look, tonton (uncle) George…that’s the Sky Screamer. I really really want to go on that one.”
A tower as high as the bridge, whipping screaming fools in swing chairs round and round. It looked obvious to me that one of those chairs would eventually go flying off.
“That’s really cool,” says the Uncle.
“Make me puke,” say I.
“Dad, you gotta do it with me.”
“No way. I’m freaked by heights, so…and I don’t trust Amusement park technology.”
“Dad, do you know how many people have like, died, since like La Ronde is open?”
I play along.
“None, dad, not one. It’s like safer than even crossing the street.”
“I’ll go with you, Noah.” says his cousin.
“Looks really exciting,’ says the Uncle.
Yes, I’m a physical coward. But a moral warrior.
By the time we got home, it was bedtime. Noah brushed his teeth, fed his fish and was ready for bed without the shadow of a protest.
I was overwhelmed by the urge to hug him.
“Dad, it’s too hot.” He wiggles his way out of my grasp. He’s all arms and legs now, so he has an effective bony defense.
“Dad, I would really want to, you know, sleep over at tantine’s (auntie’s) for like, I don’t know, a few days, this summer.”
“I’ll try to work it out for you, Noah.”
“Because, you know, I really love my cousins. Yeah, especially Vince. Now, I don’t know why, but he’s like the best cousin I have, you know.”
“He’s a boy and closer to your age than Melina. I guess that helps.”
“Yeah, and he really is nice with me. It’s like we can share, you know.”
“I know. Family Ties.”
“Yeah, that’s why I’m not like afraid to go you know on the Sky Screamer because I can go like with Vince and Melina and be like tied to them in the chair. Imagine like tied with a rope in the chair, you know so we don’t go flying. That’s funny.”
“Tonton Georges is going to want to go also.”
“I think you can be four, dad, if you squeeze, so yeah, he can come too and get all tied up. Haha.” Then he snorts because it’s just too funny.
“Lots to look forward to.”
“Yeah. I’m excited to do it with them.”
“Okay, buona notte, sogni d’oro, a domani.”
Kiss, smack, pat on the butt and I leave his room. He’s asleep in two minutes.
Later, at 11pm, despite my physical fatigue, I lie in bed awake. The more I try, the less I fall asleep.
Noah’s cousins are hardly children anymore. My sister was telling me how hard it has become to keep them involved in family affairs. Their four person unit is dissolving. Before it coalesces into a new formation, she feels a little lost, a little sad.
For a few seconds I feel terribly alone as I imagine my life without Noah. He’s only nine, but every parent I respect has told me to enjoy these years because then they grow up and leave in all sorts of ways.
I tell myself to remember that, next time I’m too tired or lazy or indifferent to join him in a game or activity.
I turn over on my stomach and curl up in a comforting position.
One thing is for sure, though. No way I’m doing the Sky Screamer.