He has fallen again.
Crying, he comes running and I lift him into my arms. Grubby fingers clutch at my hair. He sobs into my shirt, wipes his nose on my neck, and then turns and squirms for release.
I kiss the back of his head and set him on ground. The minute his sandaled feet hit the gravel, he’s off. And running. Toward bicycles and boulders. Toward big kids and dump trucks. Toward squirt guns and puddles.
Away from me.
“Come back, baby,” I feel my mouth whisper as I watch him. “Come back.”
But already, he has run too far to hear.