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 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.