Gabriel shuffles into the office at 6:55 to express his bewilderment that the 7 on his digital clock -- we block off the minutes -- still hasn't appeared. I've been grumpy with the weary legs and now the train of thought that has encountered this barricade for the day. When we are all up and I'm assured no one will be disturbed, I storm through the chores: dishes, laundry washed and into the dryer, an older load folded and an even older one into dressers, night-time diapers disposed of, recycling done with a bracing moment contemplating the cool, grey dawn as boxes are punched flat.
As soon as he was up, Gabe said he was hungry and after serving him his two requests, he still hasn't eaten more than a bite or two, he's still in his pyjamas and the clock is ticking down toward departure time for music class. I've issued the threat that if he doesn't get going there'll be no music, no pizza and no time with the camera. I know that keeping the promise would mean idling around home fending off his requests for TV until I land on that sweet spot that gets him doing something else though not rewarding him.
He buys in, however, and he's dressed, self-fed and bouncing impatiently in the hallway while I get my shoes on. He has even done his homework for music with his closest approximation to colouring inside the lines -- the first victory of the day.
The morning has turned and I can look ahead to all those things that we anticipated. He runs up the hill and I try to teach him micro lessons about pacing and getting up the hill without having to stop. My legs are dead, but moving a little and keeping pace with him.
The transfer between the train and the bus leaves a window of time that I've gotten into the habit of filling with a stop at Starbucks. Tea and a cookie for me; juice and a rice krispie square for him make for a quiet moment. Usually there is just one other occupied table in the cafe and there is a calm in neutral territory. He contemplatively works through his square and the juice seems not to overstimulate him despite its sugar. He is unprompted with his thanks, his expression of love for running and his comment that this grey, Russian-novel, morning is a beautiful one. It truly is. I marvel at his resilience and his knack for wiping away the significance of my scowling efficiency in addressing what apparently needs doing.
This is needed and it resets my entire weekend. He marvels at the tall apartment across the street, counting the floors as I snap a surreptitious shot of him pointing up and counting to sixteen. The conversation leads to the word "opposite." I evade the definition and ask him what the opposite of short is and he's off. Big, up, on, in, tall, young and new, down, left and here. He gets them all without struggling with the curveballs and I can praise him each time. We share our treats, and when it is time to go he wants to help carry my hot cup of tea to the counter for the take out lid and I wonder if these twenty minutes a week will add up for him the way they do for me.