That Black Thing

The other day, while driving home, Younger and his dad were discussing the impossibility of eliminating shadows in space. As my head thunked soundly against the passenger window, I remembered my own discussion with Younger more than ten years ago…

Younger has started pretending to be various Nintendo characters, usually insisting that the rest of the family join him in the charade. He has been Mario, while I have been the Princess. Or I have spent entire afternoons referring to him as Baby Yoshi, while I was called Mommy Yoshi. Or he has been yellow Yoshi, I have been purple Yoshi, and his daddy has been green Yoshi.

He has also babysat a pretend Yoshi that is apparently small enough to sit in his hand. One day, his pet Yoshi even had to use the toilet. Younger slammed the lid against the tank with a loud thunk and held his hand over the appropriate area.

So, tonight, busy cleaning the kitchen, I barely noticed his odd behavior of stepping into the bathroom then, backwards, into the kitchen, then again stepping forward into the bathroom, then again backwards into the kitchen. He repeated the ritual for several minutes, muttering continously, leaving me to assume he was in character and acting himself through one of the “worlds” of Super Sunshine Mario of which I am completely clueless.

But then he said, “Mom, what is that black thing in the floor?”

“What?” I glanced at him then the floor. Not seeing anything, I answered, “I don’t know, Younger.”

Now on his knees, he leaned over the metal divider separating the two rooms, peering at the bathroom linoleum. “Well, it’s making the floor dirty.”

“It better not be making the floor dirty,” I told him, suddenly suspicious. “I just mopped it.”

“It’s following me,” he announced, panicked. “Mommy, it’s following me.”

“Ohhhhh.” I laughed. “That’s you’re shadow.”

“Well, can you pick it up?”

“No, hon, I’m sorry, but you can’t.”

“How do you make it go away?” he damanded, backing towards me while watching the “black thing” follow.

“You’d have to turn off the light. Your shadow is where you block the light from hitting the floor.”

“Well, I don’t like it,” he muttered. “Aaaaaaahhh. It’s following me.”

He wasn’t very thrilled to hear the newly discovered “black thing” would be a lifelong companion. I think sometimes Elder has the same feelings about his own shorter, bossier, three-year-old shadow.


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