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  • The Lonely Skeleton

    October 31, 2008

    When I was growing up I loved and looked forward to Halloween. My brothers and I and the forty or so kids who lived in the neighborhood would start talking about what we would be for Halloween shortly after school started in September.

    The years that Halloween fell on a Saturday or Sunday, we would spend the entire day scavenging for and cobbling together a costume. The ghosts in our neighborhood wore sheets with paint splotches the color of their living room. No one had a “store boughten” costume. Unthinkable.

    Long before the sun would set, four or five kids would crowd around the mirror in our tiny bathroom, elbowing for space. We painted our faces with left over craft paint, the gouged out remains of an old spot of blue or green eyeshadow or one of my mom’s old tubes of blood red lipstick. We’d rat up our hair and drench it in hairspray and practice scary faces holding up our hands Dracula-style.

    Then, just as the sun began to set, 10 or 15 kids at a time would set off screaming down the street with brown grocery bags, going from house to house, descending like a horde of locusts hollering TRICKORTREATSMELLMYFEETGIVEMESOMETHINGGOODTOEAT! And hooboy! Wasn’t that funny?!

    Amid the safety net of 20 kids, we’d roam a two-mile radius around the house for three or more hours. Our bags would be so full of candy we could hardly carry them and occasionally you’d see someone whose bag had broken, on their knees on the sidewalk, crying over their lost booty.

    Last year, Antique Daddy took Sean out trick-or-treating in the neighborhood while I stayed home and ate miniature Snickers waiting for the goblins to arrive at the door. Kids trickled up the sidewalk two and three at a time, escorted by their parents who were in the background hissing, Say trick-or-treat! Say Happy Halloween! Say thank you! Did you say thank you!?”

    Halloween seems so much more lonely an event these days, at least in my neighborhood. The singular Ariel or Ninja that comes to my door makes me nostalgic for the gangs of ghosts splattered with Sherwin William’s Burlap Beige and hobos wearing their dad’s work pants cinched up around their armpits.

    As I stood at the door watching a tiny princess and her daddy make their way to the next house, a skeleton emerged out of the darkness and made his way up the steps. He was an apt skeleton weighing no more than a bucket of green beans. “Trick or treat!” he called to me cheerfully. I estimated him to be about 10-years-old. I looked beyond him into the darkness, but there was no one. I looked into the eyeholes of his mask at his bright brown eyes. I could tell he was smiling at me. I dropped a handful of candy into his bag. “Thank you ma’am!” he said looking me in the eye. Then he turned and started down the steps. “Wait a minute!” I called him back. “Here!” I said, dropping two more handfuls of candy into his bag. “Happy Halloween to you Mr. Skeleton!” “Wow! Thanks!” he called as he disappeared into the darkness. All alone.

    I watched him until there was nothing but darkness beyond the bright porch light. I heaved a heavy sigh. Something about the slightness of his form, his cheer, his courtesy that made me think of my little goblin, who will never be one of a roving gang of paint-splattered ghosts, but a polite, lonely skeleton. And that sort of makes me sad.

    Originally published November, 2006

    Not Just Because He Wears A Napkin On His Head

    September 4, 2008

    I am out of town today and tomorrow, so today it’s leftovers! This post was originally published in March of 2007.

    * * * * *

    The prevailing assumption in our culture is that parents can’t wait for their children to grow up and leave home. And yes, there have been a few days when I would have traded Sean for a margarita and a plate of nachos. But not many. At least not too many.

    Maybe most people do feel that way, but I don’t. Maybe because I waited so long and so late in life for him and maybe because I thought I’d never be a mother, but I am not anxious for this time to speed by. I am fully aware that the day he leaves my house will be here too soon.

    I remember one time when Sean was about a year old, we were seated in a restaurant booth and he was enjoying the thrill of wearing a napkin on his head as everyone does. He was having a good time and we were having a good time watching him have a good time. At one point, the lady seated in the booth behind us turned and said, “Don’t worry, only 18 more years to freedom.” Without thinking I blurted, “But I don’t want to be free from him!” Her face contorted in disgust and disbelief, as though I had just stated for the record that I enjoy sticking straight pins in my eyeballs. That was kind of a conversation killer, so she immediately turned back to her margarita and nachos.

    But it’s true, I’m having a great time being a mom even though I’m chronically tired and most of the time I feel like I don’t know what in the heck I’m doing. I mean how often can you take someone to dinner and get them to dance on the table with a napkin on their head purely for your own amusement without buying them drinks? Not that often people. Not since college anyway.

    Sean is a source of joy in my life. I like having him around. He makes me laugh. He makes me remember to breathe long and deep. With or without a napkin on his head.

    Hester

    August 10, 2008

    This month, my maternal grandmother would have been 109 years old.  She died in 1938 when my mother was only 4-years old, about the same age my son Sean is now .  In honor of her birthday, I am re-posting this essay I wrote about her in August of 2006.

    * * * * *

    The day was November 7, 1938. She had turned 39 in August and was in her twelfth year of marriage to an uneducated but hard working farmer who adored her. It was never clear if she really loved him or if at the advanced age of 26, she had just given in to the fear of becoming a spinster and finally agreed to marry him when he asked her for the sixth or seventh time.

    She was a tall, pretty woman with hazel eyes, a thick head of wavy auburn hair and perfect white teeth. She loved jewelry and china and books and beautiful things.  Her own mother ran off and left the family Hester_1
    when she was ten-years-old, leaving her to help her father raise her three younger siblings.

    At an early age, she had made the unconventional decision to forego marriage and children in favor of working as a housekeeper for a wealthy doctor in order to have the nice things she loved so much. Marrying Allen Rhodes had put an end to her life of pretty things and was the beginning of a life of hard work and worry that was the lot of the farmer’s wife. Together they had five children ages 11, 8, 6, 4 and 5-weeks.

    She had been suffering since the birth of the baby with severe abdominal pain and after more than a month she could bear it no more. Her father, Hiram, who had come to live with the family several years earlier, begged Allen to get help for his daughter and so the decision was made to take her to town to see a doctor. In those days, few things were more terrifying to country folk than doctors. Such a radical decision says everything about the degree of desperation and pain she was suffering.

    As she stood to leave for the hospital that November afternoon, her feet must have felt as though they were made of lead. She kissed her infant daughter over and over cradling her downy soft head up to her cheek, closing her eyes and listening for the sweet purr of baby’s breath circling in her ear. She placed the baby into Hiram’s waiting arms and then kissed each of her other four children taking a long time to look into the face of each one. If there was any question of her love for Allen there was no question she loved her children more than anything in the world. In spite of the crippling pain, she couldn’t bring herself to turn away. Allen gently pulled her away and lead her to the door.

    Three separate times she made it as far as the car only to return to kiss her children good-bye one more time, kissing them and weeping over them at the same time. When she turned away for the last time, she knew that she would never return.

    Allen settled his sick wife in to the car for the long journey into town and waved feebly at his father-in-law as he put the car in drive. Hiram stood at the door of the farmhouse with the baby in his arms and tried to nod reassuringly. He watched the car carrying his daughter pull away, then dip and disappear into the rolling hills of corn. When there was nothing more to see but endless rows of corn, he clutched the baby tight to his chest, hung his head and shook and shivered, silently releasing all the tears he had been holding back his entire life.

    As the car bumped down the country road, perhaps she bore the unbearable in silence, wordless and brave. Perhaps she gave in and beat her breast and howled long and bitter and helpless as an injured animal does when caught in a trap and left to die. Allen never spoke of it.

    She never returned to the farmhouse again. She died in the hospital 12 days later. Her name was Hester. She was my grandmother.

    Here’s Your Baby Ma’am. Welcome To Adulthood

    July 5, 2008

    The years I lobbied to be treated as an adult have blown up in my face.
    ~ Lisa Simpson

    I managed to put off adulthood until my mid-40s. Once I was handed that precious bundle of screaming, puking, pooping responsibility joy, my carefree protracted childhood lonely meaningless life came to an end. Adulthood blew up in my face in one big gush of baby blue confetti. And I’ve never been the same since.

    The first time that Sean looked up at me with those unfocused drunken eyes of infancy, the weight of the responsibility for his well-being and survival bore down upon me, and for the first time in my life I felt like an adult. And it was terribly frightening. I remember looking into Sean’s tiny face and praying, “Dear God, I’ve managed to screw up a lot of stuff in my life — I guess you already know that — but please let me get this one right.”

    Adulthood has meant that I am no longer the center of my own universe. It has sometimes meant cleaning up puke for six straight days, inspecting poop, wielding a rectal thermometer, getting only four non-sequential hours of sleep in any given 24-hour period and existing on a diet of luke warm coffee and left over chicken nuggets.

    Yet it is in the servitude of motherhood that I’ve discovered another facet in the prism of my being — a richness and depth of experience that can only be gained from dealing with someone else’s boogers. To love is to serve.

    Yes, being an adult has blown up in my face. And I could not be happier.

    * * * * *

    I accidentally started this blog three years ago this fourth of July weekend and so in celebration of happy accidents, I present to you this post from October of 2006 which seems to sum up a lot about me and this here blog.

    More Millie

    June 20, 2008

    Your last helping of Tuna for the week.  Have a great weekend y’all!

    * * * * *

    Millie Conway

    In our family, we celebrate Easter and our risen Lord as we do any other holy day – by racing home from church and eating entirely too much. And then complaining about how full we are as we waddle off to check out the dessert table.

    And after all that eating, nothing much else can be done except to sit around the table and talk trash before going back for another piece of pie. When my mother-in-law Cleo and her siblings get together, talk inevitably turns to Millie Conway. After 70 or more years, it’s still Millie Conway. If you have ever wondered how long one can harbor sour feelings, it’s at least 70 years.

    In case you are wondering, Millie Conway was a girl that Cleo and her older sisters grew up with. As legend has it, Millie had the good fortune of being an only child and consequently was afforded a few luxuries – new clothes, an occasional Coke or a bologna sandwich all to herself. In Cleo’s family there were seven children and no such luxuries. If Cleo were to have to choose a last meal, I can tell you right now it would be a sandwich of thick cut bologna with real mayo and a Coke. The contentious feelings towards Millie wasn’t borne out of the fact that she had so much and that Cleo and her sisters had so little, but that Millie was the original Nellie Oleson.

    After a round table rehashing of Millie’s many acts of evil against the sisters, each one reported as though it had never been told before, one of the siblings will say of their oldest sister, “You know, Fanny always wanted to hit Millie but mama wouldn’t let her,” and then almost piously, “Mama never let us hit anybody or anything like that.”

    And then someone will say, “Poor Fanny went to her grave wanting to hit Millie and never got the chance.” And then we all hang our heads in a moment of silence for Aunt Fanny and her unrequited and unopened can of whoop ass.

    “Whatever happened to Millie Conway anyway?” someone asked.

    “Oh she died some years back,” Cleo says.

    Everyone paused to consider this.

    Then Antique Daddy adds triumphantly, “Well, I bet the first thing Aunt Fanny did when she got to heaven was kick Millie Conway’s butt.”

    And if there is any image that will convey the true meaning of Easter, it’s two old ladies in a throw down at the Pearly Gates.

    Originally published April 2007.

    Thursday Blue Plate Special: Leftover Tuna

    June 19, 2008

    Keeping Time in Tuna 


    100_4842a_2 I never hate Wal-Mart more than when I am in downtown Tuna.

    Across the country, small town Main Street has been decimated by the big hairy ape that is Wal-Mart and Tuna is no different. The old historic buildings that line Main Street, that once teemed with the life blood of the town — the Mom and Pop businesses — now stand as a silent, empty and decaying tribute to capitalism at it’s best, or worst, depending upon your point of view.

    One thing I really like about doing business on Main Street in downtown Tuna is that there is no one standing at the entrance of the store handing me a little yellow smiley face sticker if I come in with a bag. We all know what those smiley face stickers mean: We don’t trust you. In Tuna, trust is the currency and a handshake is your receipt.

    Awhile back, I had several watches (and by several I mean seven) that needed batteries replaced. What is more absurd than the fact that we have seven dead watches, is that neither Antique Daddy nor I even wear a watch most of the time, yet we feel that we need to have seven in working order in case there were to be some sort of wrist watch emergency.

    When I took my comatose watch collection to a local jeweler in the metroplex to have the batteries replaced, I was astonished by the degree to which they could over-promise and under-deliver a simple service. After several attempts and as many phone calls to get the jewelers to perform the requested service, I tired of their excuses. I finally retrieved the dead and dying watches and brought them home where they would be more comfortable and I could mourn them privately. I happened to mention this to George, my father-in-law, and he suggested that I bring them up to Tuna to the Main Street jeweler, whom he described as a “good ole’ Baptist boy.” So that’s what I did.

    When I walked into the Tuna Credit Jewelers, it was like stepping back into time 50 years. The hardwood floors creaked and dipped where countless feet had worn a path to the front counter over the course of more than 100 years. Behind the counter sat the owner, whose father and his father and his father before him had probably sat in the same cracked green leather chair. Most of the merchandise looked as though it had been there for at least that long.

    I told the man that George had sent me. “Oh, George, of course,” he said with almost no inflection. I explained to him that I had some watches that needed to have batteries replaced and I handed them over the counter to him. He peered at me over his bifocals, blinked a couple of times and then said, “Okay.” They say that a lot in Tuna and I like that.

    Then he asked me if I would like to wait. It was my turn to blink. I was thinking about the jewelers in the metroplex and how they kept my watches for a week and then another week and I was pretty sure I didn’t want to wait that long. Then I realized he meant wait, like for twenty minutes. I said, no I had to go see Floydine down at the bank and I would100_4851a_2 come back later. He nodded knowingly and again he said “Okay.” And then I waited for him to write me a receipt for my precious seven watches that I was entrusting to a complete stranger.

    We stared at each other for a few awkward seconds like a couple about to kiss for the first time. I stammered nervously and waved my hands in a gesture that made it appear as though I were waxing an invisible car.

     ”Um, do you think, that maybe, I could have a receipt? For my. Um, you know. Seven. Uh. Watches? If it’s not…. toomuchtrouble.” He looked puzzled. Perhaps because all of a sudden English didn’t seem to be my first language.

    He quickly scribbled something on one of those generic pale green reciept pads, tore it off with great precision and handed it to me. I folded it twice and stuffed it into my pocket without even looking at it as a display of trust. I did not want to risk insulting the stranger now in possession of my seven stupid watches.

    As I headed down Main Street, I pulled the receipt out of my pocket and looked at it. On it was written “watches” punctuated with a little smiley face. I guess that’s about as official as a handshake and that’s good enough when doing business in Tuna.

    Originally published June 2006.

    How To Be A Rock Star In Tuna

    June 18, 2008

    I am getting ready for a conference that I will be attending in beautiful North Carolina this weekend where I’m looking forward to seeing friends I’ve actually met and many more friends that I haven’t actually met. And I have no idea where my suitcase is or what to put in it.  So then, for the rest of this week, it’s left over Tuna. Yummy.

    * * * * *

    If you ever find yourself in Texas, and you’re really hungry and you want good food and plenty of it, what you do is drive to the nearest small town, check the obituaries and then head to the church for the post funeral feeding. Wear an outdated and ill-fitting suit of clothes and look appropriately pitiful and you’ll blend right in. If you arouse any suspicion, you can always deflect it by complimenting the potato salad:

    “I’m sorry, but I don’t believe I know you. How did you know Bubba Ray?”

    “This is the best potato salad I’ve ever eaten! Who made it?”

    “Whell! (sniff) Erleta Winslow made that, and it’s okay, if you like your potato salad dry and bland like that, bless her heart and all. You wait right here (calling over her shoulder). Let me get you some of my potato salad. I make mine with a pinch of dill. Can I bring you anything else? Refill your tea maybe? Some pie?”

    Before you know it, you’ll have four or five church ladies armed with bowls of potato salad fawning all over you. Small town people take their recipes very seriously and the church cookbook is the Who’s Who In Greater Tuna. The absolute worst social faux pas in Tuna is bringing store bought cookies to the church picnic. Your reputation would be forever sullied. Prayers like this would be offered up on your behalf in the ladies groups: Dear God, please bless poor Leona Fay. Either her oven or her mind is on the blink and we just ask that you restore her either way.

    George, my father-in-law, is a Tuna rock star. He’s got so many recipes in the First Avenue Church of Tuna cookbook that they finally set a limit. Sitting in his den the other day, he leaned forward in his recliner and beckoned me towards him. Then looking over each shoulder, he whispered to me in a low voice and confided that he had submitted some of his recipes in my mother-in-law’s name to get around the limit. I might have gasped and clapped my hand over my mouth if I had understood what a scandalous thing this was. It wasn’t scandalous that George was blatantly swan diving through a church cookbook committee loophole, but that my mother-in-law goes to The Second Avenue Church of Tuna. So in my ignorance I said, “Oh really?”

    Small town churches have a rivalry that goes far beyond that of Texas high school football, which is saying a lot, since both are considered religious activities. Being a Midwestern Catholic, I don’t really understand either. This became obvious when I attended the funeral of an elderly relative awhile back.

    After the funeral, the family gathered in the basement of the Second Avenue Church of Tuna for the post funeral feeding. One of the church ladies sashayed by my table to refill my tea and asked me how my meal was. I told her it was wonderful, especially the potato salad, and thank you so much for doing this. Instead of just shutting up like a normal person, I asked her if the recipe was from the First Avenue Church of Tuna cookbook (Antique Daddy, quit kicking me!) which is so good and has so many good recipes (would you please quit kicking me?) I’ll bet this good potato salad came from the good First Avenue Church cookbook (stop with the nudging and the kicking dude) and maybe I could buy one while I’m here. In fact, maybe I’ll buy several for gifts, they’re just that good!

    She stopped pouring the tea, slammed down the pitcher, looked me squarely in the eye and through gritted teeth hissed, “Whell! I wouldn’t know!” Then she spun around and marched off.

    I turned to Antique Daddy who was leaning on his elbows with his head in his hands. “What just happened here, dude?” I asked. “I just complimented the potato salad. Isn’t that what I was supposed to do?”

    He shook his head at my embarrassing blunder. “This is the Second Avenue Church of Tuna,” he said hanging his head. “We’re never going to get pie now.”

    * * *

    Stay tuned for more Tuna on Thursday and Friday! Yum!

    Limit Two Protocol

    May 30, 2008

    When I was at my Aunt Jean’s house a while back, I noticed that while she didn’t keep canned goods in the bathroom, she did have a stash of probably 25 or 30 giant Snickers bars. In the kitchen that is, not the bathroom. And it wasn’t even Halloween.

    It was surprising to see so many candy bars because you never see her eat anything like that. Aunt Jean is tall and thin and regal and dignified and not given to self-indulgence. When I asked her about them, she said that when she was growing up, one of the oldest of seven very poor children, all she ever wanted was a big old candy bar all to her self. And now that she can afford them, she buys them because she can. But only when they are on sale.

    Let me just stop here and say I would never have a stash of Snickers. Not because I’m not one to “stock up” on a commodity as precious as that, but because in order to have a stash I would have to have at least enough restraint not to eat them all. Whenever I get my hands on a Snickers bar, I chew off the paper with my teeth and then I toss it up in the air. And then I roll on it until I get the scent of Snickers on my neck. And then finally, I lay on the floor on my tummy with my feet out behind me and I gnaw on it and growl at anyone who looks my direction. So when she offered me one, I declined just to avoid that whole scene.

    Anyway, apparently Aunt Jean really wanted her own liter of Diet Cherry 7-Up when she was growing too because when she sent me out to the garage to get something out of the extra refrigerator, I was confronted with an imposing wall of Diet Cherry 7-Up. When I asked her about it she said that Albertson’s had a super duper sale on them a while back, but it was limit two. “My goodness!” I said, “Limit two!? How on earth did you get so many?”

    “Well, you know,” she said her voice trailing off. “I went to the store and I bought two.” She paused here to lightly pat her hair into place and then stretched her neck as though working out a kink. And then she evasively looked up and off to the left at nothing in particular. “And?” I asked. “Well, then I went home and…. I chaaaaanged clothes…. (cough) andthenIwentbackfortwomore (cough).”

    In case you didn’t know, it’s in the fine print on the back of the bottles. In order to legally purchase two additional liters of Limit Two soda, you must have changed clothes. And not just in the car either. You must go home and change into a completely different color blouse. If we were to look at the grocery store surveillance video the week Diet Cherry 7-Up is on sale we would see my good and proper Aunt Jean wearing dark sunglasses, going in and out of the store carrying two liters of Diet Cherry 7-Up at a time. And you might think the video was on a loop until upon closer inspection you would see that she had changed clothes making it totally legal.

    I then did a quick calculation in my head — four trips a day, four changes of clothes for seven days at which time limit two expires. And sure enough it adds up to a stash of enough Diet Cherry 7-Up that should last until the rapture at which time we will all be caught up in the air toasting the brethren with Diet Cherry 7-Up and Snickers.

    And oh what a day of rejoicing it will be. 

    * * * * *

    This post was originally published in February of 2007.

    The following is an excerpt from a recent email AD received from Aunt Jean:

    “Tell AM that Albertson’s is having a special on their sugar this weekend and the limit is one. That leaves me with a problem. I am out of sugar and would like more than one bag.  I am considering several changes of clothes but I will have to change in the parking lot. If I drove home to change, the cost of gasoline would cancel out my savings on the sugar.  Life has it’s problems. But I love you anyway.  Love, Aunt Jean.”

    My Aunt Jean cracks me up. Gotta love Tuna where clipping coupons is an investment strategy.

    More Visa Adventures

    April 25, 2008

    Sadly, what you are about to read is a true story. But it keeps Antique Daddy employed and Antique Mommy in new shoes.

    The other day as I was paying bills, I noticed that I had a late fee of $15 on one of my credit card statements. $15. That presented a dilemma: Is it better to pay the $15 and go on my merry way figuring I’d blow $15 somewhere along the way sooner or later? Or should I stand on principal and sacrifice what little sanity and free time I had on that particular day to a Visa call center?

    I was in kind of an ornery mood and I figured it was worth $15 just to mess with some call center agent. So I called those people who are everywhere you want to be, except perhaps where accounting logic resides.

    After spending 20 minutes keying in my credit card number, being transferred, telling some stranger what my mother’s name was before she married my father, being transferred, telling another stranger what the last thing I purchased was, verifying my credit card number that I had already keyed in at least twice before and then getting cut off, calling back in and starting over, I was connected with Jason whom I imagined was a scrubby clean boy with freckles and right out of college with a degree in communications and a minor in philosophy. And it went like this:

    Thank you for calling Visa. This is Jason. How may I help you?

    Hi Jason. This is Antique Mommy and I’m looking at my credit card statement and I notice I have a late fee of $15.

    Yes, ma’am you do.

    Well, I didn’t pay late. I always pay the amount due in full and never late. I never pay anything late. Ever Jason. All the labels on the cans in my pantry face forward, and the spoons never mingle with the forks in the silverware drawer. I don’t pay late Jason. Ever.

    Well. Um. Okay, well, just a minute. Let me get back to another screen. Okay, I see. Okay, yes, here it is. Yes, you have a $15 late fee.

    Yes, Jason, I know I have a late fee, that’s why I’m calling. My question to you is how is it that I have a late fee? I didn’t pay this bill late. In fact I paid it two weeks before it was due.

    Um let’s see ma’am. Yes, you paid in January. I see that. And then you paid in February. And then it looks like your March bill you paid two weeks before it was due.

    Jason, since I paid early, don’t you think, if anything, that I should have a credit and not a late fee. I didn’t owe anything so I didn’t pay anything.

    Well there you go. You didn’t pay your March bill.

    Because I didn’t owe anything. You owed me. Technically you owe me $15 because you didn’t pay me on time.

    Um…. (click click click…. clickityclickityclick click…) Okay ma’am? Because you are a valued customer (which we all know really means “nutcase”) as a courtesy, I’ll wave the fee this time, but in the future..

    Jason, thank you so much. And next time? I promise that the next time I don’t owe anything — as a courtesy — I’ll be sure to not pay anything on time so I won’t get a late fee for not paying what I don’t (click) Jason?…Jason?

    Originally published April 2006.

    In The South, You Can Wear A Crayon On Your Head Or Color With One

    March 12, 2008

    Anyway, I was over at the Apathy Lounge where I ran into my friend and the proprieter, the lovely Mizz Beaverhausen who was celebrating the 105th birthday of Crayola Color Crayons.

    And I was reminded of two things. No, make that three. I was reminded of how much I love crayons. I was reminded of a post I wrote a few years ago about crayons and I was reminded that I have nothing for tomorrow. So here ya go, an old post about crayons.

    * * * *

    Broken Crayons

    I like my crayons broken. They are better that way. Like people, you can do more with them once they’ve been broken and the hard edges are worn down with love and time and attention.

    Many many months ago, Sean and I sat down together to color for the first time. The crayon he was using immediately gave way under the pressure of his clumsy inexperienced hand. “I boke it!” he cried, holding up both pieces. “Fit it Mommy!” Not wanting to expose my inability to mend all that was amiss in his world just yet, I soothed him by breaking my crayon too and telling him that they work better that way. Then we went through the entire box breaking all the crayons in half. Since that day, Sean has made it his mission in life to leave no crayon unbroken. So take that as fair warning, you might not want us to come play at your house.

    Last night, Sean and I were reading together before bedtime. He doesn’t actually read yet, but has memorized the words to every book he has which is somewhere in the triple digits. And that makes it hard to skip pages let alone paragraphs or even the occasional adjective. The book we were reading from last night was a collection of nursery rhymes, most of which I find to be rather disturbing. Three blind mice? And an ax-weilding crazy woman chasing rodents? That you would have agressive rodents in your house? If ever there were a recipie for night terrors. But nonetheless, there we sat side by side in his rocking chair reading about one boy playing with fire and another running through the town, alone and after dark, in his pajamas.

    (Unrelated side note: I will be really sad when we can no longer fit in that chair side by side because one of us has grown too much.)

    Anyway, I read “Jack and Jill went up the hill,” and he followed “to catch a pail of watt-ee.” I continued, “Jack fell down” and Sean piped up “and boke his cray-own. They’re better that way.”

    Jack with a broken crayon is a much better image than Jack with a concussion, don’t you think? And they say you can’t improve upon the classics.

    Originally published May 2006.