The Lap

When I was a little girl, I was stick thin. My daddy used to say that if I stood sideways and stuck out my tongue that I would look like a zipper.  Well, that all changed after the birth of my last daughter. My body began to change and then when I hit 45, I began to spread like unbaked cake batter. I still do some yoga and circuit training each week, but I cannot lose weight.

One evening when my oldest grandson was visiting, I pulled him onto my lap. He is 4. I cradled him and he said, “Nana, I am not a baby.”  I told him that I knew he was not a baby, but that I wanted to cradle him in my lap because soon, he would be too big.  He looked up at me with his deep brown eyes and said, “Nana, your lap is perfect.” And he settled in. 

I began to think about all of the laps that had spooned me over the years. My mother is a small, thin woman. I loved sitting on her lap…not because it was comfortable but because it was comforting. I can still close my eyes and feel her arms around me, the smell of Avon hand cream making the air thick with scent.  

My Aunt Louise was a different story.  She was a broad woman with heavy, sagging arms. Her lap was very, very comfortable. When I was pulled into it, it meant that a treat was coming; a cookie, a cheap piece of costume jewelry, or a joke! It was a good lap. 

My fathers lap was a place of conflicting feelings. It was used for two extremes. I can still hear his voice singing to me, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy….,” as he rocked me in his lap. But I can also remember being asked to bend over that lap so that a firm (and usually well deserved) swat could be administered. I preferred the first use. 

Laps are amazingly engineered pieces of living furniture. Man has tried for centuries to replicate the perfection of the lap through chairs, couches, benches and settees. They have failed. Even the most well crafted piece of furniture, no matter how deeply comfortable, cannot compete with the lap. 

In these man made attempts there is no soft childbearing pouch, no sweet low humming, no stroking of the hair, no stories whispered, no warmth from the arms, no perfectly placed pillows of rest that echo the heartbeat and never, from any chair, will you receive a kiss on the crown. The lap is perfection.

The first throne of a king is on his mothers lap. The first seat of a congressman or president is on his mothers lap. The greatest inventors, artists, and leaders were formed while sitting in someone’s lap. 

I looked down at my grandson and smiled, “That is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.” And I began to sing, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy…”


Anonymous said...

This made me cry, beautiful, just absolutely perfect.

Susan said...

You are so precious. Thank you for sharing this special story. I now think of the laps that comforted & the arms that held me.
Love are my idol!

Linda Goodman said...

Lovely story, Kim! I love the idea of a lap being a king's first throne.

P.S. Wine is my guily pleasure, too - 130 calories per glass!

jeff ell said...

You should do this on NPR here in the valley!

Carolyn Stearns said...

Having just spent a week with my Grandchildren I appreciate this reverie of Lap time, counting the weeks and days until I can see them again.