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the quiet absence of a toddler

the tips of the tines of the fork gently scrape across the plate; its a kind of ringing scraping sound.
the incessant and restless jaw, chewing and tearing the food, a rumbling and rather animal kind of noise.
the internal hiccup of swallowing.
the clang of the silverware on the table.
the faint hum of the air conditioner in the background.
the give and take of a rational, intelligent dialogue.
these are all sounds that are associated with dinner. perhaps you know this, though. i forget that not everyone has a two-year old at home. but, you see, i do. i do have a two-year old at home. and i had also forgotten that these were noises associated with dinner. well, until this week.
when we left central pa on saturday we left something behind, in the form of a small, independent, overly sensitive, and, above all, loud little human being named jack. we left him with his neenah, as he calls her, his pappy, and his aunt shay and uncle butter (don't ask. actually, do ask if you'd like. its a funny story). as we drove away i was thinking, "man, this is awesome! it is already so much quietier in this van. this is going to be so freakin' swee...wait, what's that noise?" and i look over to my left and there in the passenger seat is my wife, crying and blubbering like a little baby because she is apparently 'sad' about leaving jack for a week.
men are from mars, women are from venus. anyway, i digress...
jack isn't around this week, and it is so quiet. i hear everything at home. everything except the usual tiger, lion, dinosaur and dragon roars. everything but the occasional meltdown becuase soap got in someone's eye or the richard scarry video is over.
in the quiet absence of a toddler i hear birds outside. i hear thoughts in my own head ("where did you come from? i ask them). i hear the creaks and cracks of the house dealing with an indian summer. i hear the neighbors mowing the lawn. i hear caedmon giggle. i hear the tv showing sports instead of maisy, curious george, elmo or the backyardigans. and, i guess, not surprisingly, when i walk by his empty room, i hear my heart crying like a little baby, "i miss my little jack."
i can't wait to see him. he could leave some of his noises in central pennsylvania as far as i'm concerned, but i do miss him.
come home soon, buddy. it's too quiet here without you.


mego said…
We just got Ella back from a Thurs-Mon stay with her grandparents. It was definitely alot quieter those days - but Catherine did her best to make up for it! Enjoy your week with Cade - it's unusual to have alone time with the youngest.
monica said…
oh, those sounds!! this is the quiet hour here, both boys resting. i can hear a few thoughts shuffle around, but after this break, i am ready for the rumpus, the racket, the symphony of little boys to return.
Emoly said…
greg, to fill those empty silences, which your house is about to be over-run with family, have you ever listened to Needtobreathe? My friend and I went and saw them in concert last night (they also opened for the Jars of Clay concert we saw back in March). HOLY COW! Dude, this was a small venue. When I say small, it was not much bigger then our living room. There were only about forty people there. There weren't enough channels so they did an acoustic performance. It rocked our worlds! We love their new album "The Heat". I have no idea if you'll enjoy their style of music, but if you haven't had a chance to listen to them give 'em a try. (they're from South Carolina, so they have a little southern thing like Crowder). We got to meet them and talk to them afterwards! I'm on one of those little school girl highs.....

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