“sometimes when people get mad at me, i come in here and stand on my bed and look out the window to see if mommy is coming to get me,” joey says. he’s standing on his bed as he says this, the trees turning color through the window.

he’s a sensitive boy, this four year old whose mommy is two hours away, whose life has been turned upside down since february. and even when i speak sternly to him on occasion, it’s more than he can take. he runs to his bed and stares out the window.

he starts shooting pretend guns before i can think of a response, other than “oh honey…” and i hate guns. i hate that aiden is becoming intrigued by them, and how jin picks up an alphabet letter from the fridge and pretends it’s a weapon.

but i hate violence of the soul, more. the kind that renders my friend unable to care for her children because her partner left her traumatized. the kind that leaves a world reeling with anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills (both of which i’ve been on). the kind that reeks of the anti-christ.

later that day, i pick joey up, pick him up like he’s a baby and put him on my lap because we’ve had a disagreement, and now he’s not talking to me.

i pick him up and say into his ear, “i love you, joey. and i’m sorry.”

“you got mad at me,” he says.

“i’m sorry,” i say. “i’m having kind of a bad day. can you forgive me?”

“my mommy never has bad days,” he says.

i swallow. “well, i guess she’s a better person than i am.”

he leans his head on my shoulder and i know i’m forgiven. but i also know that, try as i might, i can never be his mother. there’s only one woman for every child, and even though other women can maybe do a better job at care-giving, deep down, the child remains loyal… we learned this in foster-care training.

because a mother is perfect to her child, in spite of her mistakes. she is the savior outside of the window. the one every child is calling to, through the glass. “can you see me, mommy? i’m here, waiting. please take me home.”

and i get why joey plays with toy guns. it’s his way of fighting off the bad in the world that keeps his mommy from him. it’s his way of slaying the dragons that hurt his family.

“i’m fighting off satan,” he tells me, a pretend weapon in his hand.

and who can argue with that?

(thank you, so much, for all of you who linked up to this week’s imperfect prose… i was blown away, and so thankful, for your kind comments and your loving support. you rock my world, friends. love you.)