Our Secrets

1. The Creek. You: No pants. Me: No socks. Ouchy feet on river rocks. I hold your hand too tight. We watch two red lizards swim around and around. I think you’ll shriek with excitement, but I’ve switched us. You watch calmly. I shriek. The water is ice. We are so happy.

2. Buses & Trains. After preschool, we run to the bus stop even though our house is down the street. The bus lets out a deep sigh so you can step into it. You say loud hellos to all the passengers. Next, we run down the BART station steps to your favorite spot, where you watch the trains come, and feel the big wind. Me: “Should we get on a train and go home?” You: “We’ll just hang out here.”

3. Breakfast. You: Monster-size cereal spoonfuls. Me: Catching falling cereal soldiers, gritting my teeth, “Smaller bites, please!” You: Finger resting on a lone Cheerio on the edge of the bowl, “Can I push this one back to his family?” Me:

4. Softening…softening.

5. Naked & Cold. You: Always wanting to be naked. Me: Always concerned, “Aren’t you cold?” You are never cold, but my worry taught you that naked=cold. So when you want your clothes off, you ask, “Can I be cold now?” One morning, I awake to the thunder of your feet kicking the crib. I come into your dark room wearing a tank top the same color as my skin. You study me for a moment, then ask, “Mommy, are you cold now?” I am cold, actually, but I know you’re asking me if I’m naked. “No,” I tell you, “I’m not cold.”

Minna Dubin is a writer, artist, and educator living in Berkeley, CA. She is currently working on #MomLists, a Bay Area literary public art project on identity and motherhood. When not chasing her toddler, she is eating chocolate in the bathroom while texting. She has published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Forward, and has been featured in the Museum of Motherhood. www.momlists.tumblr.com