My Little Boy

Baseball season has arrived.

We’re all very excited.

Before Elder’s first game — last Saturday at a tournament — I watched him pace beside the fence bordering left field. Elder has always had to fidget in one way or another, whenever he’s bored or nervous or concentrating or eating or talking or, you know, awake.

But then he paused in front of me, his cheekbones streaked in black to help shield his eyes from the sunshine, and I smiled at him. “You’ve been touching your face.”

One corner of his mouth lifted in a grin of acknowledgment. “I know.” Then he glanced at his fingertips. “How can you tell, by my face or my hands?”

I glanced lower to his legs, just above his knees, and the four streaks of black marring the gray cotton, perfect replicas of four long fingers. “Your pants.”

“Oh.” He glanced down. “Yeah.” And he rubbed his hands against the marks. “Huh.”

Of course, he left the diamond with a lot more than four streaks of black on his pants. He always has. Never met a boy that didn’t. And despite eighteen years and seventy-four inches, he’s still my little boy.

I’ve watched him play his last game of football. And his last game of basketball.

And, now, we’re down to baseball…

And the last of stains on a uniform.

When even four black finger streaks across gray cotton are precious.

My little boy.

The Other Joy

I apologize for posting a day late. My husband and I were in San Antonio.

We drove for fourteen hours on Tuesday. I visited the Alamo, while my husband attended his work conference. I also bought coffee for an apparent homeless woman and refused a date from an apparently homeless man. I then learned to avoid eye contact with the locals.

We then drove home last night.

So, today, barely awake, I thought I would share an old story from 2001 when Elder would have been five and Isaiah would have been two…

My mom had a little cabinet that was the perfect size for a small television and a Nintendo. She offered it to us but we had never managed to retrieve it from her basement.

So, Sunday, a few weeks ago, she set it in the driveway and, when I stopped by the house to pick up some disks, Elder begged me to grab his shelf. Grunting a little, I manhandled the cabinet into my trunk, telling myself to not forget the thing as I had very little extra room left.

So, I promptly forgot the thing, of course.

Monday, as I exited Wal-Mart and meandered through the parking lot looking for our misplaced car, I remembered it. Mumbling under my breath, I stuffed as many shopping bags around, behind, and in it as I could. Slamming the trunk, I shoved the remaining bags into my front seat. Then I wheeled my shopping cart into the proper area, remembering to grab Younger from the seat.

As we returned to the car, I noticed the handles on one plastic bag flapping in the wind, caught in the trunk. Too tired to worry with it, I settled Younger into his seat and explained to Elder what I had done.

“But, Mom,” he protested when I slid beneath the wheel, leaving the plastic to flap behind us. “Someone might see it and laugh.”

“Well, at least we’ll have brought some joy into their lives,” I told him sourly.

“Mom,” he said, curiously. “Who’s Joy?”

And for one of the few times that day, I laughed. Elder is my own personal plastic handles flapping from someone’s trunk. In other words, he brings joy into my life.

Love and Marriage

The other day, I commented to my husband that many people might avoid saying how old they were but everyone was always proud of how long they had been married.

And the wise one responded, “Well, being married for thirty years feels like living through sixty.”

Despite making such a comment straight to my face, he lives on.

But even more slowly than before.

Stealthy Ninjas

Whenever I bake muffins, I tend to find discarded paper wrappers everywhere except in the trash. So, the other day, after retrieving at least the hundredth wadded wrapper from the kitchen countertop, I launched into one of those end-of-my-rope lectures.

“But, Mom,” Younger protested, his eyes wide. Leaning towards me, he lowered his voice and revealed, “It’s the ninjas. They’re stealthy, Mom. They blend into the walls and the furniture. They move so fast you can’t see them with the naked eye. And they force me to throw those wrappers on the countertop. And,” he added for good measure, “they hook the Pepsi up to my veins, just in case you start wondering where the Pepsi went.”

My eyebrows lifted towards my hairline, one fist finding my hip. “Are you telling me ninjas made you do it?”

He nodded. “Exactly. Ninjas.”

So, now, whenever I start squawking about candy wrappers in the pockets of their jeans or a suddenly empty bag of cookies, a voice hollers, “The ninjas, Mom. They’re stealthy.”

Oh, those stealthy, stealthy ninjas. No telling what they might do next.

Well, except wash a dish or bake a cake or scrub a toilet.

Apparently the only one with those superpowers is Mom.