Today I found this drawing during a marathon cleaning spree in which I sorted through mountains of kid artwork, school papers and various other junk that has been collecting for months. A year if I’m completely honest. And by “sorted” I mean actually removing rather than just moving the mountains. The marathon was made entirely possible by the fact that the kids are spending the week away with their grandparents. I love a good purge and am happy to report that a.) I can now see the entire floor of my office and b.) Nothing was living underneath the piles.
A week ago I might have interpreted this little scrap of green paper with a raised eyebrow and a flash of concern. I might have tucked away the lightsabers (out of sight, out of mind) or accidentally broken the stick that has become The Best Shooter Gun ever. These weapons! I can’t escape them. Yes, it’s a natural phase for boys. And yes, we do our best to keep their play focused on imagination, not violence. But still, enough with all the blasting, shooting, killing and lasering. I cannot take another bit of it.
But that would have been me last week.
This week, I stumbled across the drawing and immediately thought, “Oh my sweet boy! Are you sending me a hug from afar? I miss and love you too!”
• Shoes that are not flip-flops
• Any non-beige food item
• Books involving happy bunnies
• Running errands without a lightsaber or other weapon
• Having your photo taken
• Leaving the house when Mom seems rushed
• Television shows designed for 3-year-olds
• Lego sets designed for 3-year-olds
• Costumes that don’t come with a laser blaster because Mom didn’t special order it
• Shirts with collars
• Shorts with snaps
• Going into the school classroom
• Leaving the school playground
• Washing hands “when I only went pee!”
• Getting into the bath
• Getting out of the bath
• All of the Star Wars movies except “the hot lava one that I’m not allowed to watch.”
• Mom’s no-gum-til-I’m-four rule
• Catching bread when it pops out of the toaster instead of reaching in and grabbing it.
• Drawing with anything but Sharpie markers
You know it’s true: boys and girls really are different.
Hubby and I have been trying to carve out more individual time for the big kids–their increased fighting, whining and general grouchiness is their sophisticated way of saying they want to feel like an only child…for at least an hour. (Really, don’t we all sometimes??)
So Doodlebug and I escaped one afternoon for milkshakes and pedicures. In the car we chatted nonstop and gushed about the chocolate heaven that is a P. Terry’s milkshake. We held hands across the parking lot, sat next to each other in the big massage chairs and watched HGTV while the lovely ladies made our toes pretty. We thoroughly discussed our nail polish options. I chose “I’m Not Really a Waitress” red and Doodlebug picked a springy green with daisies painted on her big toes. She shared some cute gossip about her school friends and we both laughed about my embarrassingly ticklish feet. We took a silly self-portrait photo and then some shots of our new toes. On the way home, she said, “Mama, I love this day so much! You are the best Mom in the whole world. Can we do this every Sunday? Mama, I love you more than chocolate.” I couldn’t ask for a better compliment.
The following Sunday I took Rascal to his soccer practice. Just the two of us. We drove with the windows rolled down and the sun shining bright, and for minutes neither of us spoke. Then he said, “Mama, remember how on AstroBoy he had those rockets on his feet? Did you know they weren’t just rocket boots, they were actually rockets on his feet? That’s the kind I want–not boots, but rocket feet.” We crossed the parking lot, me with my hand resting on his head as he tried to dribble his ball without swerving into traffic. At the field, I stretched out in the grass and watched while he practiced with his team. In between kicks he sometimes gave me a thumbs-up. During every water break he ran full-speed my way, tackled me, then leaned up against my back while he refueled. I said, “Buddy, you’re doing great!” He replied, “Mama, don’t tell me that! Don’t talk.” After practice we played a spontaneous and rowdy game of one-on-one, with lots of hollering and theatrical tumbling across the grass. When his best buddy asked if he could join in, Rascal gave him the hand and said, “No. Just me and Mom today.” And yet again, I couldn’t ask for a better compliment.
A Saturday morning: Hubby and Doodlebug are at ballet. Smiley is sleeping. Rascal is itching to go exploring (code word for “nature walk”), but we are tied to the baby monitor and our own small yard. As I’m scrambling to think of a thrilling alternative to a walk, he picks out “adventure tools” for us and heads out back.
His tool is an abstract Lego creation; mine a small, plastic airplane. “Use the tip of it to explore things, Mama,” he explains.
We snoop around the playscape and spy ants on the slide. We dig through the pebbles for crystals and look for locust shells hanging on the big live oak. We use his Lego thingie and my airplane to locate incredible finds among the bamboo lining the fence (A wire holder! A bump on the bamboo that looks like a frog! A leaf magically suspended in the air!).
For an hour we explore, dig, observe and speculate. We document our findings in both photos and writing. And when the baby monitor starts fussing we head inside, energized and fulfilled as if returning from some worldly excursion.