Friday, January 19, 2007

Winter Memories

Today I put the flannel sheets on my bed, finally acknowledging the existence of the winter weather. It was hard to be seasonally correct before, since the weather has been so crazy. But now I can break out my winter wear and safely tuck my other clothes into storage.

We haven't had any real snow yet, but the winter weather always makes me remember a blizzard years ago when I was trapped inside with my young cousin, who was a toddler. Cuz was/is my heart. I remember seeing his 2-pound body stretching and straining in the incubator when he was born two months early, saw his first steps and heard his first words. When I went off to college, he was one of the folks I missed most.

When I returned for my Christmas break, I offered to babysit Cuz and he spent the night over my place. They called for snow, but I didn't think it was going to be that big of a deal. Cuz and I always had a good time together. He had me playing the hell outta some peek-a-boo and he joined me in singing Goodie Mob's "Who's That Peepin' In My Window."

Then we got a foot of snow and things changed. Our little games got old and Cuz could only watch the Cartoon Network so many times. The kid was demanding too. He had a cold, which sent him into a sneezing frenzy. The one thing he hated was having snot hanging from his nose. In the middle of the night he woke me his sneezes, then cries of "wunny nose! wunny nose!" After dealing with this madness a few times, I did the only thing a responsible teenager would do. I sent him to my Mom's room.

Cuz will be 14 in a few short weeks. I've been home from the Midwest for two years now, but it's still hard to look at this handsome teenager who towers over me and try to picture the baby that melted this cold heart. His voice is cracking, he's got acne and the girls are constantly calling the house or knocking on the door.

I'm very proud of him, but I'm scared for him too. Everytime I see him wear those baggie pants and plain black or white t-shirts, I picture an overzealous cop slamming him against a wall. Each time he checks out a girl that's more consistent with the European standard of beauty than the one in his own family, I worry that he'll grow into one of those men that sistahs typecast.

For now, I'm content with enjoying this goofy manchild and hoping that the future doesn't bring him too much pain. It hurts a little that he doesn't remember the blizzard of 96 or the Goodie Mob lyrics, but I'll get over it. I've got four more years to influence him before he's sent out into the world. This time, I hope to give him something more useful.