Last Saturday Clay, Tre, and Max had a meeting to attend, so that left Raphael and me to enjoy our morning together. I took him to Starbucks for hot chocolate and a little one-on-one time.
Special time like this with Raphael is what I imagine it would be like to date your stalker. He completely invades my space, leans against me, pets my cheek, fills the air with endless chatter, and protests if I pay attention to anyone but him.
Don’t tell anyone, but Raphael loves his Mem.
We collected our drinks at the counter and headed over to a little table to play a game of checkers. He was doubtful – did I even know HOW to play? Did I know WHERE to put the checkers? Would I be ok when he BEAT me?
Well. I may be slipping, as I edge into the upper 30s, but I think I can still defeat a six year old at checkers. I mopped the board with him, in very short order.
“You…you WON,” he said, looking at the board in amazement.
“Yes. Remember this. I am far smarter than you suspect.” I hope he remembers this in six years, not because I think I’m going to be even smarter then, but because I expect his estimation of me to take a nosedive around then.
“We will play AGAIN!” He pointed a finger in the air, already triumphant about his expected victory. Then he dived under the table to take a bite of cookie, which he was keeping down there, balanced on my purse, so it wouldn’t melt in the sun streaming in through the window. He bounced back up, his face streaked with chocolate. “Set them up – and this time I am going to be red.”
And so we played again. This game took longer, because he was being a bit more careful, but also because of the frequent pauses in action so he could describe the AWESOME move he had just thought of, if only we could just…sort of…TWEAK the rules.
“And see? If I could just jump BOTH of these guys here? I could BAM! and then turn around and BAM! over here, and then I would win!”
“Yes. Except you can’t do that.”
“Right, but if I could sort of bounce along the edge, like this, BANG BANG BANG, and I could jump allllll these guys here, and I would be all, ‘King me,’ and you would be all, ‘what? How?’ and I would just…just WIN, like that!”
“Yes. Except you CAN’T DO THAT.”
“I know, but what if I said to you, ‘hey, look over there,’ and when you turned, I was all [scrambles to collect all of his pieces that I’ve captured] and would put them on the board, like here and here, and NO, I would make all my pieces KINGS, and you would turn back and I would go JUMP JUMP JUMP, I WIN!”
“I know! Just…what if?”
We spent a good hour like that, him chattering away, me repeating things like “You can’t do that,” and “Raphael? Just GO,” until the words wore a groove on my brain, a linguistic rut labeled “checkers with Raphael.”
I defeated him a second time, despite his many excellent plans, and eventually it was time to go. He went to the bathroom and came out a few minutes later, his smile still outlined in chocolate, the front of his shirt caught up in the waistband of his jeans.
“Hey, honey,” I beckoned him over and whispered in his ear, “did you wash your hands?” He hopped a little in guilty surprise (who knew? Handwashing rules apply even in Starbucks?), and turned and ran back into the bathroom. I watched him go and smiled.
I truly am smarter than he thinks – smart enough to know that he needs to learn to play by the rules in life.
I am also fool enough to be a little sorry about it.