"I think that they won't let us squeeze the cow's penis today..."
Jon is standing at the counter, flipping oatmeal pancakes; I'm helping myself to a cup of coffee, which clearly I'm going to need for this conversation. We steal a sideways glance, both confused by Julian's 7 a.m. statement.
"Huh?" I need some clarification.
Jules continues, "To get the milk out. I don't think that we'll get to see the cows today."
Finally brave enough to meet eyes, Jon and I share a quick smile. Quickly, I look away, moving the conversation along because I don't trust I can keep from dissolving into hysterical laughter. (For the record, we've already covered "what makes a mammal" with Jules - we hit the farm often and I nursed both boys. Still, it would seem we need a refresher.)
"Jules, I think you're probably right about the cows. But we're going to see the sheep and baby lambs," I tell him. Lambs. Baby lambs is totally redundant, I know, but I can't quit saying it. "And Maite is coming us. YAY!"
Maite is Julian's best friend at school. Every day for the last year-and-a-half, they've been hugging each other to the ground (literally) each morning, snuggling and fighting like cats through the day and then skipping out to our cars, holding hands, each night.
In two days, Maite is moving back to Italy. Jules hasn't said he's upset about it but there have been signs: difficult drop-offs, touch-and-go moments at school. So Jon and I have been trying to prep him: We're talking about how we'll talk to Maite on the computer, how we'll write her letters and send her pictures from Vermont. He's fine - we're the ones who seem sad - he's most interested in whether Maite will send him presents. (Oy.)
So today, we visit the farm, we see the "baby lambs." We pet Penelope the donkey and we head home for pizza and play time. All the while, Jules and Maite are, well, Jules and Maite: all snuggly and sweet with each other one minute, bossy and aggressive the next.
Then, while they're arting it up at the kitchen table, Jon and I overhear this:
Jules: "Are you sad because you're going to Italy? Are you going to cry?"
Maite: "No. I am going to Italy. I am going to get notes from everyone and then I am going to come back someday."
Jules: "But are you going to cry?"
Maite: "No. I am going to Italy."
When it was time for Maite to head home, Julian decided he didn't want to ride along with Jon; instead, he wanted to stay home and "play bubbles" with me. On her way out, Jules gave Maite an orange bottle of bubbles.
Once Julian and I were alone (Kai was napping), he took the wand from his (red) bottle and pursed his little lips to create a parade of iridescent orbs - which he chased down with the wand. Then, he watched the bubbles pop, one by one. He did this again and again. Then he burst into tears. "I want the orange bubbles. Maite is going to take them to Italy and I want them back."
Oh, bud, I totally know what you mean. And here's what I would have told you if I could have trusted myself not to cry:
You're going to have to say goodbye again and again and again. But you're also going to get to say a lot of hellos, and meet a lot of new people and see a lot of new places and things. (Like baby lambs!) The trick is to not let yourself get so lost in the intense emotions of the goodbyes and hellos that you miss all of the awesomeness of the in-betweens. Which totally isn't easy. That I know.