about sticking your fingers up other people’s noses

In the plane from Copenhagen to Amsterdam: A father kneels in front of his one-year-old son to indulgently let himself be annoyed. The son picks at his father’s face, and every time a couple of fingers venture into an opening or scratch so hard it hurts, daddy abruptly pulls his head away and then returns. A game, a little lesson in other people’s physical boundaries, a love declaration of patience. The son’s inner monologue clear as daylight around him: “Will you hold still so I can stick my fingers up your nose! Why are you being so difficult!?”

Later: His tiny hands appear, crawling like monkey fingers up the back rest. He sees me smiling at him between the seats and smiles back like only a child that is loved can smile: Unrestrained, confidently affectionately; Still in the happy state between the moment when he realized that someone catches him when he falls – and the moment when he realizes that mutual smiles from the heart are not a basic fact of life, but a direct consequence of his cuteness.

Behind me the grinding double monologue between a grandmother and her grandson, looking for words to have in common.

And it suddenly occurs to me that it’s not love to ask you to stop suffering.