Last year was the year of The Brunette. This year, it is apparently the year of The Blonde. What can I say brunettes, the times they are a’changin’.
Last year, Sean was in love with his teacher Ms. Vicky, who is a drop-dead gorgeous Latina. I must say, Sean’s taste in women is exquisite, much like that of his own father who didn’t find anyone exquisite enough to marry until he was 41.
Ms. Vicky’s daughter was also in Sean’s pre-K class and every day Sean would come home from school talking about the two lovely brunettes. He would sometimes compose a letter to mail to one or the other; other times he would draw a picture for one of them and stuff it into his backpack to take to school. The television commercials would have you believe that women want flowers or diamonds. No. They want pictures drawn in crayon which have been folded seven times and maybe have milk stains.
Be that as it may, kindergarten has brought in a whole new crop of babes and this year Sean has had his eye on two girls who by description, are about the same – Christie Brinkley in miniature — bright, beachy, athletic, long blonde hair.
The other day, as we drove home from school, he chattered about the two girls and how he was trying to decide which one he should like to marry. I asked him what he liked about Kate and he cited her slim shape, her long “silvery” hair and that she was smart. I told him that I thought it was good to know what you wanted in a mate and that those were some good qualities.
I also said that I thought I would grow my hair out long, just like Kate. He said, no, he didn’t think that that was a good look for me, that I was “too thick” for that kind of hair. Okay. Very well then.
When I asked him what he liked about Maddie, he named the same things – she has a slim shape, long silvery hair, that she is smart, and she is the fastest girl in the whole school.
A fast girl in kindergarten is fine, a fast girl in high school, not so much.
“And she includes everybody,” he added.
I had to sigh. Oh that every kid was taught to include everybody. Wouldn’t our schools (and world) be a better place?
I was delighted that Sean recognized that including others is a wonderful quality in a person — something to appreciate and admire and something to which he should aspire.
The other day Sean and I had a couple of errands to run. It was an ugly sort of day, a day much better suited for staying home, but we had some things that had to be done, so off we went.
As we were driving along, we made up a game to see how many words we could come up with to describe the day.
I started with the obvious, “Damp.”
“Gray,” he countered. It was true. It was a monochrome day, gray from ground to sky.
“Cold,” I added.
“Still,” he said slowly. The world did seem particularly still in spite of the traffic.
“Um, let’s see…melancholy.”
“What does melancholy mean?” he asked. I told him that melancholy is sort of like when you feel damp and gray and still on the inside.
“Oh,” he said satisfied. “My turn.”
The car fell silent as he looked out the window and searched for another word to describe the day.
“Dull,” he finally said.
“Dull indeed,” I said. Dull was the mood of the sky.
“You know because when it’s sunny, the world is shiny,” he explained. “But when it’s cloudy, the world looks a little dull.”
When I pulled up to a stop light, I turned to look at my little boy in the backseat.
He was looking out the window at the dull sky.
As we waited for the light to turn green, he pointed out a coyote slinking along the railroad tracks under the fog. He wondered out loud where the coyote lived. He spotted a shoe along side the road and wondered how it got there. He thought about the person who was missing a shoe. He pointed out the white plume of exhaust rising off a tall building and a line of black birds resting on the power lines.
This boy reminds me that from time to time, the sky may be dull, but the world around us never is.
One of the things I miss the most about having a toddler around the house is the spontaneous and exuberant affection.
As a toddler, Sean was given to fits of passion. Without warning, his teeny tiny heart would seemingly erupt with unrestrained and irrational love. All that slobbery affection had to go somewhere and I was his favorite target.
I miss the days when he would stand in my lap, giggling and bouncing on fat little legs. I miss how he would wrap his ams around my head and gnaw on my face. I miss the leg hugs.
It seems the days of unfettered expressions of love are gone forever, but every once in a while one will come out of no where. And it’s like getting a bonus — a little end of the year reward for all the hard work of motherhood.
Last night Sean and I were sitting side by side on the sofa reading through a stack of Christmas books. He had already had his bath and was in his robe and jammies and was extra warm and snuggly and smelled of lavender shampoo. Y’all, that is like catnip to a mommy.
The book we were reading, Santa’s Stuck, always sends him into fits of snorting giggles. I started laughing at him laughing. And then we were just laughing and had no idea why.
When I closed the book and set it aside, he threw himself into my lap in a fit of passion. He wrapped his arms around my neck and chicken pecked my face with kisses while making chomping noises.
He was two again.
Then he stopped and pulled back. He looked into my face, his eyes still sparkling.
Then his expression changed. The moment was over as quickly as it had begun. My six-year-old was back.
“Stop goofing off mom,” he said seriously as he rolled out of my lap. “Let’s read another book.”
Maybe if I keep up the good work, I’ll get to stay on. And maybe I’ll get another bonus next year.
About 20 years ago, someone gave me a big roll of brown paper. I lugged it home thinking I could do something artsy with it, although I had no idea what.
So I stuck it in the back of the closet until such time as an idea came to me. And there it stayed for about 10 years until I moved and stashed it in the back of yet another closet for another ten years. Then I had a child. And an idea. And the brown paper was finally put to use.
About once a week, Sean and I will get out the big roll of brown paper and stretch out six or eight feet on the floor and make something. Because that’s what we do. We make stuff. We’ve got crayons and markers and we are not afraid to use them.
Last year, he was really interested in the rain forest, so we read a book on the rain forest and we learned about the various animals that inhabit each layer. Then we rolled out about 8 feet of our trusty brown paper and drew a ginormous tree and worked together to create a verticle mural of the rain forest from the river to the canopy. It was fun and educational and a great way to kill a rainy afternoon.
The year he was four, around Christmas time, we rolled out the brown paper and I had him lay down on it so that I could trace his outline. Then he painted and drew himself as a Santa and we cut it out and displayed it on the wall. You deck your halls with boughs of holly, we deck ours with dwarf-sized brown paper Santas. We made another brown paper “Seanta” last year and again this year and it’s been fun to see how he has grown, physically and artistically.
Twenty years ago, I had no idea what I would do with that roll of brown paper. The roll is almost gone and I still don’t know what I’ll do with it from day to day, but I know it will be something.
Sunday night, the church we attend held its annual Christmas get-together where the children sing Christmas songs and have their picture taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus. So we donned our gay apparel and off we went.
Sean had been looking forward to going because he knew that Santa would be there and he wanted to make sure Santa knows that he wants a bow and arrow for Christmas. He doesn’t really believe in Santa, but Sean is the kind of guy who likes to cover his bases.
At the same time, he was not looking forward to going because he knew that he, along with his Sunday school class, was expected to get up and sing in front of everybody and he would rather eat broccoli with spinach sauce than do that.
When they called Sean’s class up to the front to perform, he did not want to go. Like a mule, he sat back on his heels and refused to go.
Had it been just me, I would have said fine, no biggie and let it go at that. It didn’t seem very important to me and I know I hate being forced into doing something that makes me uncomfortable. And if there is one thing that makes me uncomfortable it’s the thought of being forced to sing in front of a roomful of people. And just below that is the thought that I should have to wrestle my child to the ground and then drag him by his ankles up front to sing for a room full of people. Then there would be two terrified, not to mention angry, people up front which would put a damper on the whole tidings of comfort and joy theme. So then, my vote was to not make it an issue.
But Antique Daddy saw it differently. He felt it was important that Sean push through the fear and get up and sing with his group. So he coaxed and cajoled and encouraged. Sean looked to me for a rescue, but also high on the list of things that make me squirm is the thought of having a spousal argument in front of the entire church body, so I shrugged my shoulders to indicate to Sean that I was staying out of it and that this was between him and his daddy.
Finally AD grabbed him by the hand and drug him up front offered to go with him. So off they went to the front hand and hand. Sean made his way to the stage while AD stood off to one side.
As he stood among his peers, lip-syncing Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, I thought about how parenting is this constant challenge of trying to decide when to push and when to back off. And how often no matter which way you go it feels like you’re getting it wrong.
When he got back to his seat, I pulled him into my lap and told him I thought he did a great job and that I was really proud of how brave he was.
“I wasn’t brave!” he said in a huff, “I was really really scared!” And then he nestled into me like a bird in a nest.
“I know,” I whispered in his ear, “Being brave means being really really scared and doing it anyway.”
So mom, do you know what you’re getting for Christmas?
I’m getting something for Christmas!? Wow, I’m so excited!
Do you know what it is?
No, I have no idea.
I don’t want to guess.
Okay……. I have no idea.
Want me to give you a hint?
No, I think I’d like to be surprised.
Okay I’ll give you just one hint.
No really I think I’d like to be surprised.
Okay, it’s something that you wear.
Something that you wear. Hmmm…. Deodorant?
Um, I have no idea.
Okay, here’s another hint.
I don’t want another hint, I want to be surprised.
You wear it in the morning.
It starts with R.
And it also has an O and a B in it.
R. O. B. I’m getting a Rob! Awesome! I hope he’s cute and can run errands for me.
Why is the sheriff so sad?
He is sad because he lost his badge and how can you be a sheriff without a badge? You can’t. If you have a gun but no badge, you are not a sheriff, you are a cowboy. The power is in the badge, not the gun.
While assisting an elderly gentleman in bringing down boxes of Christmas ornaments from the attic, this young sheriff, unable to stay on task, spied a Christmas ornament in the shape of a star. He claimed the star for his sheriff’s badge and put it in his shirt pocket.
Unfortunately the laws of physics were not on his side and when he bent over to investigate yet another shiny object that would take him off task, the ornament badge tumbled out of his pocket and deep down into fluffy piles of blown insulation never to be seen again. It disappeared so quickly and so completely that it was almost like it had slipped into another universe.
The brave sheriff did what any brave sheriff would do. He cried.
But the elderly gentleman was crusty and offered no assistance or sympathy and probably said something like, “Sorry dude. That’s a hard lesson.”
So the brave sheriff took his sorrow to a higher power. His mother.
He found her sitting at her desk in the kitchen. When she looked up she saw big sad blue eyes looking back at her. The sheriff twisted his face in a valiant effort to hold back the floodgate of tears. The sheriff’s mother tried not to laugh and at the same time, the sight of the little broken hearted sheriff made her want to cry.
Through snotty slurpy tears and incoherent and incomplete sentences, the sheriff’s mother was finally able to piece together that he had lost his badge in the insulation and that the elderly gentlemen refused to help.
So the sheriff and his mother returned to the attic to find the badge. His mother slipped on a pair of surgical gloves, got down on her hands and knees and dug through the insulation for 30 minutes all while the sheriff leaned over her and asked about 231 times, “Have you found it yet? Have you found it? Do you think you can find it?”
But the badge was not to be found.
The sheriff mom’s reported the bad news with great sympathy.
“Oh,” he said. “That’s okay. I think I have another badge in my toy box.”