I went to work late Tuesday because Eli found me early in the morning and asked me to play outside with him. If I have a neglected child it is Eli, who is quiet, and who therefore rarely gets a word in edgewise between his older brother’s soliloquies and the shouting/squealing/caterwauling that his younger brothers believe passes for civilized discourse.
So we went outside, did a few chores, and then played basketball. He’s pretty good for a Woodlief, which isn’t saying much. Once he was up on me 7-2, I decided to turn on my “wet blanket” defense. It’s much easier to play the wet blanket when you have a two-foot height advantage over your opponent. That’s one of the reasons I like playing with Eli.
After one ferocious block (not really — he launches a shot and then I jump in the air and make Scottish-highlanders-taking-on-the-evil-British-interlopers battle noises as I swat it onto the grass, but I rarely hit it that hard because you would be surprised how much that plasticky pseudo-leather smarts when you slap it), I boasted: “I’m everywhere Eli!”
Eli retrieved the ball, and began dribbling. “No you’re not,” he said, cool as a cucumber. “Only God is everywhere.” By way of making his point he observed, “You’re not in Colorado.” He had me there. He scooted past me, befuddled as I was by his razor-sharp logic, and swooshed in a little Eli shot.
Later that morning, as I gave everyone a goodbye kiss, Eli crawled into my lap and broke down into bitter tears. He didn’t want me to go. He keeps a tight rein on himself, and when he lets all that love out I suppose he has trouble bottling it back up. One day, I promised him, my office will be in that barn out there. Then whenever you want to see me during the day you can just come on over for a visit. “When?” He asked. “I don’t know,” I admitted. “But one day soon.”