“Mama, Mama, look!”
Little chubby hands grabbed at the hem of her skirt. She smiled and reached for the child. She’d never imagined her heart could be so full.
“What, baby? What do you have there?” she asked, settling him on her hip.
She tucked a stray lock behind his ear. His thick curls bounced as he moved, little coils on top of his head. She chuckled as she ruffled them, soft and springy beneath her fingers. He proffered her his elbow, the scab from last week’s fall in the playground puckered and rough.
“Look, Mama! My skin is like a orange,” he said.
“AN orange, baby. Not A orange. And yes, your scab is a little like the skin of an orange. Do you want to eat an orange?” she asked nuzzling her nose into the soft creases in his neck.
Giggling, he pushed her away.
“Stop, Mama! No tickle. I peel orange?” he said with all the seriousness of an 18 month old.
“Sure, honey. Let Mama grab you an orange, and we can peel it,” she said.
She’d been trying to sell him on the concept of oranges for a week now, but he hadn’t been very keen, complaining that they hurt his mouth and tummy. This turnaround was a relief. She could stop fretting that he was going to die of scurvy. She released her beautiful, wriggly-worm child and opened the fridge to grab an orange for him.
“Oawie! Mama! It stings!” he shrieked.
She suppressed an eye roll.
“How can it possibly hurt you yet? You haven’t even peeled or eaten it,” she said.
She turned to face him, an orange firmly gripped in her hand, ready to argue. Her sweet baby boy was sitting on the floor, tears streaking his angelic face, gripping his elbow, fresh blood smeared everywhere looking like a crime scene.
“No peel orange, Mama! It hurt,” he sad sadly.
Dropping the orange she scooped him into her arms, hugging him till her own heart stopped racing. She kissed his forehead, and when she saw he would be okay, a laugh burbled from her lips.
“Oh, my darling little one. That’s one orange you shouldn’t peel,” she said.