Happy Halloween

As my boys have grown past the age of trick-or-treating, I thought I would share an old story from 2000, when Elder was four and Younger one…

My husband and I found the boys’ costumes more than a month ago. Elder tried on his Tigger costume immediately. He jumped a few times. Glanced over his shoulder at his tail. Sat down. Stood up. Tugged on his tail. Sat down. Stood up.

“Mom,” he called, padding over to me. “Fix my tail so I can bounce like Tigger.”

So, I explained to his great disappointment that it was just a costume and Tigger was a cartoon, and we put the costumes away for a month. A month for a four-year-old is a very long time. And last night he was very excited to put on his Tigger costume again.

Younger was a little more doubtful about the whole experience. His costume was Pooh dressed like a bumblebee, and the extra padding on the front messed with his balance. He fell on his diapered butt in his grandparents’ driveway and was stuck until Mommy offered a hand.

When we stopped at the house beside a local church, the pastor was sitting on a bench in the front yard. As Elder emerged from the car, he said, “Well, it’s Tigger.”

Elder responded a layer of disgust at Pastor’s naiveté coating his voice, “I’m not Tigger. It’s just a costume.”

Pastor then asked if Elder could jump like Tigger. I requested that we not go there.

By a little after seven, we were in the house enjoying the fruits of Elder’s labor. A little after seven-thirty, I was cleaning candy corn out of our bathroom sink and explaining to Elder that the next time he wanted to add water to any container holding candy, he should please question Mommy or Daddy on the advisability of such an endeavor.

Elder has already asked if we can continue Halloween to today. I told him we had to wait until next year.

For a little boy who could hardly wait the month, a year is interminable.

For Mommy, a year sounds a little too close to tomorrow.

Monkey Butts

My husband and the boys bought me a St. Louis Cardinal’s sock monkey as a Mother’s Day present, and the little guy rides beside me on the front seat of our truck. Sometimes, he even snuggles in my lap. But the other morning I needed to clear the fog from the inside of my windshield, and he was the first bit of cloth I could get my hands on.

“Mom,” Younger ventured, casting a sideways glance at me as I swiped at the glass with the doubled-over monkey. “Does Dad know you do that?”

Exhausted, and a bit sick, I grumbled, “I don’t know what your dad knows.” But then, repentant for the snarky response, I added, “Actually, I think your dad is the kind of man who would take a certain amount of pride in admitting that his wife cleans her windows with a monkey’s butt.”

Younger grinned. “There is that.”

We’re not a family that will ever survive on our dignity.

But laughter will keep us fine.

Cowboys and Other Superheroes

Today, I thought I would share another old story from when Younger was three years old…

In Elder’s elementary school, they have devised a program to encourage reading. In kindergarten, it starts with parents reading ten books to the child to reach the first level then reading twenty books to reach the second level. Starting with the third level, the child must read to the teacher. And all the levels are somehow related to the rodeo, such as Cowboy, Mutton Buster, and Bull Rider.

When Elder reached the last level, after reading five books to his teacher, he received a cowboy hat and a red bandana. For him, they have been relegated to a deep corner in his toy box. But not for Younger. He has repeatedly insisted that I tie the handkerchief around his neck.

The first time I was somewhat confused as to where he might have seen a cowboy with a bandana as we do not watch westerns and we do not engage in any obvious western behavior involving horses, cows, or chewing tobacco. But I folded the handkerchief into a triangle and knotted it around his neck anyway. Then I returned to my chores, ignoring him when he mumbled some sort of protest. And I refused to repeat the procedure when he jerked it from his neck in frustration.

A week or so passed and he again brought the bandana to me. So again I folded the handkerchief into a triangle and knotted it around his neck. Then I smiled at my little cowboy in his purple, footed pajamas and red bandana.

But he did not smile back. Instead, he glanced over his shoulder at the small, pointed cloth. “Well, I’m not gonna fly very high with this thing,” he muttered. But with his sword in hand, he hurried to attack the various shadows dirtying the kitchen floor.

Ahhhh. Not a cowboy then. A superhero. Which means his pajamas are actually the correct attire.

Same Difference

Last Saturday, I made taco soup. Then on Tuesday, needing a quick and easy meal, I settled on tacos.

Wandering in after football practice, Elder leaned over the stove to identify dinner then straightened to frown at me. “Taco soup and tacos in the same week?” he questioned.

“Yeah, well,” I acknowledged, having expected his objection, “when I ask for suggestions for dinner, no one has anything to offer. So, you can keep it to yourself now.”

“But taco soup and tacos in the same week?” he grumbled, heading upstairs to take a shower.

And then on Wednesday, the very next night, I paused in the middle of preparing dinner — a pasta dish, for some apparent variety — to answer a phone call from Elder. “Hey, Mom,” he asked, “can I go with some of the guys to Taco Bell?”

Now, I’m not always the brightest crayon in the box, but I’m pretty sure that Taco Bell serves things like, well, like tacos.

Maybe it’s the paper wrapping that makes the difference.

Such a Good Boy

The other night, when Younger walked into my bedroom to wish me goodnight, he was particularly affectionate, hugging me again and again while murmuring, “You’re such a good mommy, and I love you, yes, I do, I love my good mommy, such a good mommy, you are…”

Leaning back, I frowned at him, completely confused by his wide grin. “What is wrong with you?”

“You’re a good mommy, yes, you are,” he continued to croon, patting my shoulders. “And I love you, yes, I do love you…”

And then our border collie, who had apparently been curled on the floor beside the bed, wriggled and squirmed determinedly between the two of us, sending Younger into fits of laughter over his successful attempt to provoke jealousy from the dog.

“Oh,” I realized, turning my face from the tongue-wielding Dusty. “You think you’re funny.”

“Night, Mom,” Younger responded, offering another grin and hug before walking from the room, leaving me to soothe the ruffled sensibilities of the dog with an enthusiastic and prolonged scratch behind her ears.

I would say that I don’t know where Younger gets it, but I distinctly remember his father plopping down on the sofa to snuggle and slobber over me until a young Younger would feel compelled to wriggle and squirm between us.

So I know where he gets it. And it’s apparently a lifelong affliction.

Well, it’s my lifelong affliction anyway.

You may save yourselves.

And your daughters.