After two weeks away working for his great-uncle, Thomas will be back for only a weekend before heading out for another week. I will have to resist following him around the house, nudging and nosing like the dog, who can still get away with that sort of thing. I will stay up late enough to tuck him in and find a reason to lurk, picking up wads of used athletic tape from under his bedtable, and he will indulge me for a little while and ask me what I did while he was gone. His chin, all angles now with a few well-tended whiskers, still fits into my cupped hand, but I mustn’t be too greedy.
I am not the only guilty one. This happens when my daughter comes home, too: she’ll be washing her face in the bathroom, and I will wander in to chat, and then Thomas will come in ostensibly to clip his toenails, and the dog follows to see if she can get at the clippings or steal a sock, and my husband, not wanting to be left out, will poke his head in. And at some point, Nina notices. She looks up at us in the mirror and smiles that slow, knowing smile of hers– we’re busted– and we all act surprised and innocent and clear out because we were really just about to go anyway.