Everyday I write the book

A few weeks ago, I gave each of my kids a small, 80 sheet, spiral-bound notebook. Periodically, they write or draw in them. I have paid little attention to these notebooks, until today when a very serious Buddy said that his notebook would become a book when all the pages had writing on them.

“I’m almost done,” he said, “There. Now it’s a book. Will you read it to us at bedtime, mama?”

“Gosh, Buddy. You wrote the book, maybe you should read it.” I said, still trying to process what he meant.

“I can’t, mama, I don’t know the words.” He was very serious.

“I’m not sure that I know the words, either.”

He tried his grandmother.

“Grandma, will you read my book to us at bedtime?” he asked.

“I think you should read it, Buddy. You wrote it. What’s your book about anyway?”

“It’s about everything,” he said with a shrug.

Finally realizing that this was important to him, I said, “I’ll try to read it, Buddy. If I get stuck, will you help me?”

“Sure, mama. It ends with flowers.”

At bedtime, I sat down in the rocking chair with Goose and Buddy, as I do every night, and opened Buddy’s book. He was grinning ear to ear.

“This is the beginning, mama.” (Yes, he calls me “mama.” Goose and Bear always say “mommy.” No idea why.)

“Okay, Buddy, so what’s this?” I ask about the picture on the first page.

What followed was a story, partly told by his explanation of the pictures, and partly filled in by Goose and me, about aliens, astronauts, guinea pigs, and cobwebs. (Yes, cobwebs. Time for some spring cleaning, I guess.) And it ended… with flowers. Specifically, flower stickers sent by March of Dimes as envelope seals to guilt me in to donating more money to them. Forget it March of Dimes. I’ll give twice a year and that’s it. I don’t care how many address labels and envelope seals you send me. (Although, I’ll be needing another notepad for grocery lists soon, please!)

As I closed the book, I told him what a wonderful story it was and thanked him for sharing it with us. He was beaming.

“Did you really like it, mama?”

“I loved it, Buddy.”

“I missed a couple of pages. Can I fill them up tomorrow?”

“Of course, you can.”

“I love you, mama.”

“I love you, too.”


Every Rose…

I mentioned in my last post our guinea pigs, Daisy and Rose.

Weeelllllll…..*sigh*….. Rose has ummmm… passed on.  Poor little thing.

I have acknowledge that I never warmed up to Rose in the few short weeks she was with us.  She was distant and aloof while Daisy is inquisitive and spirited.  In hindsight, I recognize that Rose was distant because she wasn’t feeling well.  Damn you, prey animals, and your insistence on survival by way of pretending that you aren’t sick.  Pneumonia.  If I had caught it sooner, we might have been able to save her.  We tried, her vet tried, but it wasn’t meant to be.  RIP small one.

After I finished the required exercise in self-loathing for letting the creature down, I turned my thoughts to the next problem at hand: what to tell the kids.  Especially, what would I tell Goose.  Rose was her pig, as Daisy is Buddy’s. I momentarily wished  for a religion to reference.  There wasn’t much time to figure it out.  I had to pick up the children from school and they would immediately ask about Daisy and Rose, and I would need to tell them.

So I did.

On my way to pick them up, my stomach did flips, and I felt panicky.  How would they take it?  Would they understand?  I wanted to find a stand-in Rose to make it all go away, but resisted.  A substitute is just that: a substitute.  It would be a cop-out.  What would I say?

I arrive at school, and pile the kids into the car.  They see the carrier and ask.

“Did Daisy and Rose go to the doctor today?”  Buddy asks.

“Yes,” I answer.

“Are they sick?” asks Goose.

Here it comes.

“Well,” I say, “Daisy is just fine. But Rose passed away.”

I immediately hate myself for using a euphemism.

“Is she still at the doctor?  Is the doctor going to make her better?” Goose asks.

“Well, technically she’s still there, but the doctor can’t make her better. What I mean is: she was too sick, and…”

“Then when she’s better, she’ll come home again.”  It was a statement, not a question.  She was sure.

I sigh.

“No, Lovey. Rose was too sick.  She was so so sick that the doctor couldn’t make her better, even though the doctor tried really hard to help.  But 100 doctors can’t fix Rose.  Rose died.  That means that we can never see her again.  She’s gone…. forever.”

I’m trying not to be dramatic, but want to make sure that they understand that “died” means Rose isn’t coming back.  They stare at me in silence.

“Soooo,” I continue, ‘”what we need to do is take really extra extra good care of Daisy so that Daisy doesn’t get sick, too.  Can you guys help me take great care of Daisy?”

“Sure, mommy.  But where did Rose go?” Goose asks earnestly.

“Well, that’s a tough question to answer, but ummm…” I stammer for a second when Buddy interjects.

“Can we get Daisy a new friend?”

“No.  Not yet.  Not until we make sure that Daisy is well and strong.  Then, possibly.”  I pause. “Maybe in a few months.”

Buddy looks thoughtful for a moment and says, “Don’t worry, Goose.  We can share Daisy, and we’ll take really good care of her. And when she’s really strong, we can get her a new friend.  We’ll name her ‘Share’.” (Note: SHARE not Cher, as people have thought in the oral telling of this tale)

“Buddy, I think that would be a beautiful name for Daisy’s friend.” I tell him.

“I think so, too.” Goose nods.

And that was it.  No tears.  No awkward explanations.  They haven’t asked any more questions and I’ve decided to let it be until they do.  They are only 3, after all.   Thank goodness I  have them to remind me that most things aren’t as complicated as they might seem.

Topped it off with a pair of old shoes…

The other day I stopped at the pet store on my way to work to pick up a few things for Daisy and Rose.

Daisy and Rose are our new guinea pigs.  They are adorable.  Daisy is inquisitive and comical.  Rose is shy but feisty. I’ve never had guinea pigs before.  They are interesting little critters. You’ll no doubt hear more about them at a later time.

Back to the point: I arrived at the store about 10 minutes before it opened, so I waited in my car for a bit.  There’s a man standing outside the store.  I’d guess he’s mid to late thirties.  He is unremarkable, just a guy waiting for the pet store to open.

At 9am, I get out of my car and approach the door.  It’s still not open.  In a completely uncharacteristic move, I decide to speak to the man.

“Hmmmm, My watch says 9am.  Guess they aren’t feeling punctual this morning.” I say.

The man smiles, “I guess not.  My watch says 9, too.”

An employee appears and opens the door.  I walk in and head to the rodent section.  A moment later, the man by the door appears next to me.  I think briefly that it is a nifty coincidence that we are both looking for rodent supplies, but beyond that I pay no attention.

‘Excuse me,” he says, “can I ask where you got those shoes?”

I look at my shoes, thinking that I only own one cute pair and I don’t remember putting them on today.  I am correct.  I am wearing a pair of incredibly plain brown flats which are showing signs of wear at the toe.

“Easy Spirit.” I say, a little puzzled that he is asking about my shoddy shoes.

“Oh,” he says.  “My friend is coming back from Iraq for a few weeks and I wanted to get her a pair of shoes.  Those are nice. Very casual.  I’m not from around here.  Where is that?”

“Oh, it’s at Colonie Center.”

“Oh, okay,” he answers. “What kind of insole do they have?”

I cock my head to the side a bit like a dog that just heard a strange sound. “Ummmm… I don’t know, just regular insoles.”  I slip my foot out of the shoe to show him.

He muttered something about what type of insole it is, thanks me and disappears.

Only after he disappears, does it truly hit me how exceptionally odd that whole exchange was.  It is only then that I realize that I just took my shoe off in a pet store to show a stranger the insole.  It is only then do I realize that he probably has some sort of foot fetish and I’m a dolt for not being more astute.

I think about this for a few moments and try to decide how I feel about it.  Am I offended?  Do I feel violated?  I conclude that it doesn’t really bother me, but that it probably should.  He was pleasant enough.  He isn’t stalking me.  Ultimately, no big deal. I hope I somehow improved his day.

I recall now that these little conversations are the reason that I rarely engage or even make eye contact with strangers.  It seems like when I do, it takes a turn for the bizarre.  On the other hand, it probably tends to go that way because I seem to attract odd people.  Birds of a feather, I suppose….