Monday, October 16, 2006

this and that

Heather brought a few packages of Gummy Brains for the kids when she was here for the art show. The wrapping boasts they're "Abbie Normal, Abnormally Large." They're also purple and gelatinous.

The dog ate the brains this morning when I wasn't looking.


My younger two sons have birthdays within five days of each other, in the next week. One will be 7. The other says he'll be 45. Subtract forty years from that and it'll be about right.

It's really the seven-year-old who's going on 45. He told me last weekend that "it's so much fun, Mom, spending time with you."

I don't think he was just saying that because I happened to be making his favorite breakfast at the time (pancakes). "We just have a lot in common."

"Like what?" This I have to hear.

He tapped his head. "For one thing, our brains work the same," he said.

I nodded.

"We're both creative."


"And I get the same kinds of colds that you did when you were my age."

I nodded again. Salient points, these.

He brought home his first report card tonight. Beautiful. A 4.0 GPA and percentages like 98, 99. Comments like: Submits Quality Work. Attentive In Class.

"Spelling is my worst subject," he said dismally.

I found Spelling on the list.

"You got a 99. You call that your worst?"
"I just don't know what I misspelled to get a 99," he sighed. "It should have been a hundred."

Yep, that's my kid.


There seems to be stages to this child rearing thing. The first five years are slow and painstaking: immunizations, haircuts, developmental milestones. Then you register them for school and it's as if you've lifted them up onto a much higher platform: for the next five years, they're getting school pictures, losing their teeth, making friends, bringing home papers you have to sign.

And at first you're so necessary: they really have to tell you each and every solitary thing that ever happens between the time you dropped them off and the time you picked them up. Then with each grade they seem to drift just a little further away from you and time seems to just accelerate: in no time they're teenagers and only asking for rides to games or movies or having sleepovers with friends; you're sort of a police officer type person, on perpetual duty, bearing an official signature, but still only there in a supervisory capacity, not so interactive as, well, advisory.

It happens so gradually you don't even really notice how it all comes about, until a neighbor comes out and says hello with her little toddler in tow, a child so tiny that when she says "Hew-woh!" it comes out in this scratchy, pleading little voice, a kitten's mew of a voice. How long has it been since you could carry your own child from the car to the house? And have to unbuckle the car seat out of the base first before proceeding?

Where do all the spent years go? Did the children store them up for later, catch them like dandelion wishes as they were passing by while I was distracted, worrying about how loud they cried in the supermarket and what people were thinking of my childrearing talents?

And will they remember, when they're grown, rediscovering them (those dandelion wishes crumpled flatly in their fists)?

When, if, they do, they'll open their hands and let the wishes float away once more, wishes helicoptering away to take seed and flower, over and over again. Because that is where the spent years go (I think I know). --They recycle.

Someday they'll know what is to be my age and what it is to see young mothers with children. And then may they know I, also, loved them this much; yes, this much and then some.