Recent conversations with Cole and Bella, age 4....
Bella: Mommy, are you gonna get fingerpainted so you can come on a field trip with us at school?
Me: You mean, fingerprinted? Yes, I have an appointment set up for next week.
Bella: What happens when you get fingerpainted....um, I mean, fingerprinted? Does it hurt?
Me: No, it doesn't hurt. The person doing the fingerprinting has me put my fingertips on a black ink pad and then I press my fingertips onto a sheet of paper. And then they do what's called a background check to make sure I haven't done anything bad.
Bella: Oh....oh no....uh-oh...that's not good.
Me: What's not good? I haven't done anything bad so my background check will be fine.
Cole: Yeah, you have. Sometimes you yell at us and that's bad.
Bella: And sometimes you say bad words. And that's REALLY bad.
Me: Cole, I want you to always stay little.
Cole: No, I can't stay little. I have to turn 5 years old on my birthday.
Me: I know you'll be 5 but I want to slow down time so you'll always be my baby. It's a Mommy thing.
Cole: But I'm not a baby. I'm a little boy. It's a boy thing.
Me: But when you get older, I hope you'll still want me around. I hope you'll still let me hug and kiss you all the time. Sometimes when little children get older, they'd rather hang out with their friends than their parents.
Cole: Don't worry, Mommy. You can hug and kiss me all the time, even when I'm a big boy. And I'll tell my friends they have to like you because you make good chocolate milk and you bake cookies. And sometimes you sing but I'll tell them they have to like you anyway.
Me: (as I'm tucking them into bed last night) Cole, I love you.
Cole: I love you too.
Me: How much?
Cole: Too much.
Me: Bella, I love you.
Bella: I love you too....too much.
Me: Well, I love you both to the moon and back. And then 10 times around the earth and back.
Cole: I love you 2 times around the galaxy and back.
Bella: I love you to the front door and back.
Me: Only to the front door?
Bella: Well, I guess I could love you all the way to the park but you'll have to pack me a snack if you want me to come back. That's a really long walk, Mommy.
A Blank Slate - The 2015 Garden
8 minutes ago