“Mommy, can you massage my back?” I do.
“Can you massage my feet?” I do. It’s right before bed. I’m trying to get my little boy to stop jumping like a pogo stick. The sheets have long come off and I’m not putting them back on.
“Ahhhh, it’s good to have a servant.”
He’s been going around calling himself king, declaring me guard, servant, or his personal assistant. I say he’s going to have to abdicate or I will overthrow him. I tell him the story of the Magna Carta, which he neither appreciates nor understands. I also tell him stories of various other kings for whom life didn’t work out too well, and advise it’s much better to be one of the people, blissfully off the radar in times of great distress.
He pays me no mind.
I look into his little brain. I try to remember what I thought at age six-turning-seven. I don’t recall ever telling my mom she was a servant, though I most certainly must have treated her like one. At six-turning-seven, Declan is his own star in a universe created only by him.
I listen to him. He talks to his imaginary friends, he creates worlds where he and they are characters and heroes.
I guess we’re no different when we grow up. Instead of talking to chipmunks, dinosaurs, and plants, we tell ourselves half-truths and create the worlds we want to live in, saving ourselves from the hard work of making them real by cushioning ourselves with illusion.
Maybe a forty-three year old and a six-turning-seven aren’t so different after all.
“Mommy, I need my figures.” I find the clay figures he’s created, the ones he carries around everywhere and talks to. I put the bin on the nightstand where it keeps him safe from zombies.
He’s in bed. I, his faithful servant, tuck him in. I turn off the light and tell him to keep it off. We both know when I’m safely out of site, he will get up and read. He makes the rules. He is king, after all.
I sigh. I set off to relax for the fraction of an hour a mom gets each night before her own bedtime. I make some tea. I put my computer on my lap and begin to write.
Indeed, I am creating my worlds after all.