My boy Calvin can't talk. He's almost seven but he can't utter a word. He does a good job vocalizing, humming and screaming but the closest thing to a word is his "uh-uh" which I believe stands for "mama." In my mind our physical relationship makes up some for the lack of word exchange between us. In that way our relationship is a lot like the one that I had with my dad, who was a man of few words at times.
When I was a kid my dad would often give me hugs or tussle my hair. He'd carry me on his shoulders way up high and I'd sit on his lap. Sometimes we'd walk hand-in-hand. He relished tickling me, especially right under my chin because he knew it drove me into hysterics. At night, after my bath, he'd lovingly and most vigorously dry my hair with the towel, and if my legs ached from growing pains, he'd massage my small calves. And, like with all of my siblings, we'd have healthy bouts of wrestling until we were both exhausted and red in the face. He always won.
I don't wrestle with Calvin, but otherwise our physical closeness is very much the one I had as a kid. There is so much joy and reward touching the child that was once inside me. And more so because Calvin happens to be the softest, mildest kid in the whole wide world. Really.
Calvin's skin is supple like those fresh rice-dough dumplings surrounding that sweet egg yolk center. It's as velvety as the cream off the top of raw milk, a steaming double breve or a warm Guinness stout. It feels like cashmere or angora in that color they call champagne, all creamy-beige like you just want to dive into it. And too, Calvin's spirit is the sweetest note Itzhak Perlman ever played on a Stradivarius violin. To soundly nap next to Calvin is akin to hearing Ella Fitzgerald croon while soaking in a warm milk bath with faint vanilla candles casting liquid gold light on velvet walls. Calvin is that soft and mild. Really. Inside and out.
And so, although Calvin and I can't talk with each other or know each other's dreams, we can exchange simple pleasures much like I did with my dad, through warm luxurious embraces, holding hands or delighting in our very own tickle-fest, which neither of us can get enough of.