Antique Childhood

When I Grow Up, I Want To Be A Gorilla And Drink Tea

When I was about six-years-old, my mom was the den mother of my two older brother’s Cub Scout troop. Looking back, I have to really hand it to my mom. For a woman with very few resources at her disposal, she did a lot with and for her kids.

Since there was no place else to put me during troop meetings, I was kind of an unofficial cub and I just did whatever it was my older brothers were doing. And my over 197278454_8786f42317_m_3 protective brothers loved having me around and patiently and proudly looked after me.  No they didn’t. They hated it. I’m sorry, I’m confusing my life with an episode of The Walton’s.

These Cub Scout meetings usually involved some kind of craft or activity. I remember one troop meeting in particular, my mom supervising eight little boys sitting around her kitchen table gluing burnt wooden matchsticks onto cardboard forms in the shape of a cross.  Another one of those “made sense at the time” moments.

Thirty some years later, when this scene comes to mind, several questions spring to mind: First:  Why on earth…? And then the following questions in no particular order: 2) Little white boys making burning crosses? 3) Was there a KKK badge? 4) Eight little boys lighting matches? 5) In the house? 6) Crosses? 7)Why on earth…

Since we were all Catholic kids, making a cross for a craft didn’t raise any eyebrows. Today? The ACLU would be knocking on the front door, right behind the fire department and CPS. Aaah, the 60s! No helmets! No car seats! And Jarts! Good times.

What does this have to do with a tea party you wonder? Very little. It was just a fun little memory I thought I’d share.

Anyway, one time my mom single-handedly chauffeured her den of eight little boys and one little girl to tour the Abraham Lincoln Museum in her station wagon. I’m sure that we were all well-behaved children and that it was an educational and relaxing time for all. As we were leaving the museum, my mom ducked into the gift shop and bought me a little porcelain tea set that had Bambi pictured on each piece. The reason this is such a memorable event in my life is because had I asked for a magic carpet, I would have been as likely to get it as a tea set. Knowing better, I hadn’t asked for anything, let alone a tea set. She just bought it for me for no particular reason. It was a total surprise. I loved that tea set then and I still love it today, although all of the cups and saucers are missing.

Aside: Now that I have a child of my own, I understand how a mother’s heart wells up with love for her baby out of nowhere and for no particular reason and how the impulse to purchase something frivolous solely for the joy of pleasing that little person can be nearly impossible to deny. Had my mother been a rich woman we would have been spoiled beyond measure. Luckily we were poor and were spoiled with love and attention instead. Who needs a Barbie Dream House when you can light matches in the kitchen with your brothers while your mother looks on?

Flash forward thirty years: Not one to contain exciting news very well, my mom called last Friday and told Sean that she had purchased a little tea set for him and that she was sending it in the mail. Obviously the desire to please her babies with impulse purchases has not waned with time. He was quite excited about the prospect of having a tea party. Since he does not yet grasp the concept of time, he ran to the window to wait for UPS to arrive with the tea set and like an obsessive dog I used to have, he pretty much stayed there all weekend.

So that he might remove himself from my dining room windows and get on with life until the UPS guy comes this week, I decided that I would let him play with my tea set until his came. After digging it out of storage, I called him out of the window to see it. As I unfolded the bubble wrap to expose the three tiny pieces, he gasped in awe at such finery.

I explained to him that the tea set was mine, and that my mommy — “Bivian” (what he calls my mother) – had bought it for me a very long time ago when I was a little girl. “Wong, wong ago, like weelly wong ago?” he asked.  “Whatever dude,” I snapped. “When Noah put them maminals on the awk and it wained and wained?” he pressed. I felt it best to end the discussion of my antiqueness, so I hurried on to tell him that it was very special, but that he could play with it if he were very careful.

We spent the afternoon sitting at his little table sipping tea and pouring tea and spilling tea and eating maminal crackers. At some point I will have to teach him that in some circles it’s bad form to drink directly from the creamer. But it was special to see him playing with and enjoying something that I loved so much as a child. That is, until he held up his cup in the air as if to toast my fabulousness and announced, “When I grow up I’m going to be a girl!”

He could have said gorilla.  I’m hoping he said gorilla. His daddy would be happier if his boy grew up to be a gorilla rather than a girl.  When I relayed this scene to Antique Daddy later that evening, he said “Do you think you could get your mom to send him a gun?”

And there you have it.  An excellent example of how to take a very long way to tell a very short story.

23 thoughts on “When I Grow Up, I Want To Be A Gorilla And Drink Tea

  1. You made me laugh out loud before coffee, A.M. THAT is a true treasure of a story. I’d go with gorilla — until he’s a rough and tumble teen and you need to reign him in a bit with a little blackmail.

  2. Enjoyable as always. . .and my own little boy lives in a house with an older sister. He is constantly surrounded by Polly Pockets, Barbies, and more tea sets than you could shake a good sturdy stick at (we are not rich, but tea sets–especially plastic ones are cheaper now). He used to throw his sister’s doll out of the pink and purple heart doll stroller to replace it with his Curious George, then he would go racing about at break-neck speed and terrify the other on-looking dolls. Asure your man that Sean will be fine.

    And maybe your mother bought you that dainty little tea set because you had declared, “When I grow up I want to be a boy!” after all your time in the cub den.

  3. Reading your blog has become my daily “Starbucks”…I just can’t NOT check to see if there is a new posting. I love reading these “daily dailies” in yours and Sean’s life. I especially love reading the ones about your mom – and what a great mom she was. Isn’t it amazing how much of our moms we become? And I say that with great pride – though it took me over thirty years to grasp this. And I’m privileged to know Sean’s “Bivian” as well…every child should have a grandma like his!

  4. My kids love maminal crackers. My son has also been known to announce that he would love to be a girl, since girls get so many nice things, like pedicures with mommy and bubble baths. Poor guy.

  5. My 4-year-old girl just said “Is that a girl or a boy?” and “Why does he have a tea set?” I told her that boys drink tea, too.

    We are all fighting stereotypes all the time!

  6. Great story!

    My mother was also a Cub Scout Den mother and I memorized the Cub Scout promise after hearing it over and over. They were always doing crafts in our basement. This Fall I will be Jackson’s Den mother. Thanks to my husband I already have a uniform and everything (said through clenched teeth).

  7. I love it. If more boys wanted to grow up to be girls, we probably would have more book clubs and fewer wars. Well, he’ll probably grow out of the desire soon. Just as I figure Girlie will retract her statement that she is never going to shave, ever. (It’s not a feminist position, it’s a fear of things with sharp edges.)

  8. Hilarious post. I love reading your blog every day. With 2 sons in cubs my blonde, curly haired daughter used to steal the boys cub cap, plop in over her curls and wail at the garden gate….. ” I go cugs, Mommy, I go cugs!” Needless to say it is one of my most precious memories!

  9. No biggie. My mother was ahead of her time, and raised us in an androgynous way. I could play with all the cars and trucks I wanted. My brother was allowed to play with dolls and taught how to cook. No lasting harm, other than I never learned how to cook!

  10. I remember those crosses. My brother and sister made them, but that craft trend had passed by the time I was old enough. I always kinda regreted it.

    I love the photo. I was not a tea-drinker myself but a gun-toting little girl shooting it out with the bad guys.

  11. I had forgotten all about those lawn darts until now! We used to play them all the time until my neighbor caught one with her eye….not a pretty sight. Thank God those went bye-bye. Can you imagine letting our kids toss them back and forth to each other today? Crazy I tell ya! Great story, too.I really enjoyed reading this.

  12. Pattie! You weren’t supposed to throw the Jarts AT each other! There was a little plastic circle and you were supposed to throw it in the cirlce you crazy kid! I kind of liked living on the edge in the 60’s. We used to build bike ramps out of an old piece of lumber and some cinder blocks and jump our bikes off with no helmets onto the street. Whee! And my brothers played with mouse traps and fire crackers. We used to dangle out of second story windows with just some flimsy rope. If God wanted me dead, I gave him plenty of oppportunities. If my parents wanted to drink, I gave them plenty of reason.

  13. Cute story. 🙂

    I think I would have prompted Sean to be sure to tell his daddy that himself. Shock value at its finest! 🙂

    P.S. I love the picture in the previous post.

  14. Great picture! Our whole family was involved in the scouting program from Tigers on. Now we have 2 Eagle Scouts, a Venturing Silver award, and another Eagle in the making. Such a great activity for kids (and their parents).

  15. My kida are always saying strange stuff and my husband always thinks their strange. I tell him they act like him. You’d think with 5 boys he would know how strange they can be. They seem to grow up just fine.

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