So Close, Batman.

We were so close.

I almost made it from the bookstore to the car before Mr. Almost Five Years Old realized I had indeed purchased the set of Batman books he’s had his preliterate eye on.

He peeked in the bag.  Blast it.

“Oh, Mommy!  You bought the Batman books?!”

“Well, yes.  Yes, I did.”  For your birthday, kiddo.  So stop asking questions.

“Can I look at them?”

“I don’t think so.  I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do with them yet.”

As in, I’m not sure how I’ll wrap them. Or whatever else might work to make that not a complete lie.

He furrowed his brow.

“I might give them to somebody,” I explain further.

“Couldn’t you give them to me, Mommy?”

“Don’t you have a lot of books, Tyler?”

“Yes, but I really want those. I really do.”

“I need to think on it, buddy.  I’m not sure.”

Except I’m totally sure.  I couldn’t be more sure.

“But I love Batman, and I love books.  And if I ever get tired of them, then we could give them to someone else.  Don’t you think that’s a good idea?”

“I’ll think about it.”

It’s a good thing his birthday is in 10 days.  There’s no way I could withstand the puzzled chin and the questioning eyes without a finish line in sight.

“Don’t you think I could be the boy you give them to?”

“I’m not sure.  I just really need to think about it.”

(I sure hope he comes undone over this surprise when he opens it on his birthday.  Because otherwise, I suck.)

Splendid Once Again

Alone in my room, I feel the onset of alarm.  I lay my whole body across it, to muffle the earsplitting sound.

To fall asleep, I read a long article from a ten-year-old National Geographic about Hurrican Andrew in Florida.  On the cover, there’s a dirty, sticky, sunburned Marine holding a newly homeless toddler.  The guy who wrote the article says that over the course of ten days the hurricane revealed itself, starting as just a patch of thunderstorms, then becoming a tropical storm, and eventually showing its true colors as the unstoppable hurricane it was.

A local TV reporter named Bryan Norcross stayed on the air for twenty-two hours straight, “talking his listeners through the most horrifying hours of their lives, telling them how to find safe places in houses that were blowing apart.”

I don’t usually last for more than a couple of pages at night, but tonight, I keep going until I finish.  I have to follow the arc from panic to toil to renewal. I have to get to the end, to the part where the devastation gives way to rebirth.

I read this one sentence over and over again, until I am ready to turn out the light:

“Seven weeks after the storm, there are signs of recovery.  Many trees are flush with new growth.  Power has been restored.  It will be a splendid place once again.”

~ Kelly Corrigan, The Middle Place

Swimsuit Edition

The boys and I went to a bookstore yesterday, and as we strolled past the magazines, both of them were struck and immediately captivated by the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.

Right out there, she sure was.

They were most interested in this cover photo at their eye level. Certainly, they know intrisically that there is something very intrigueing and very off limits about this bikini on display.

They pointed and touched the picture, giggling to each other.

How to teach this lesson without shaming them for a natural response?

“Guys, look at me, please.”

They each turned to me, trying to keep the bikini in their peripheral vision.

“Look at me, please.”

I knelt to them. This conversation will require eye contact.

“She’s pretty, isn’t she, guys?”

They nod. They giggle. One raises his eyebrows.

“I know. I think she is too. God made her to look that way. He made girls different from boys, and he did that on purpose. It’s okay that she’s beautiful, guys.”

I give them a minute to absorb this truth.

And then I add this:

“Someday, you’ll choose a wife, and you’ll marry her. She will be beautiful, and she will be all yours to look at and enjoy.”

I give them another minute to absorb this truth.

“But until then, no pointing, no touching, no laughing. You are gentlemen, and you will show respect. Deal?”

Deal. Let’s go look at the Mr. Men books.

(I am not naive to think that conversation is over. But I am prayerful that seeds take root in tender hearts.)

Dear Sports Illustrated,

Thank you for the opportunity to teach them to honor, cherish, and respect. If you didn’t try to capture their minds, I might have missed the chance to teach them that beauty is good, okay, and worth their respect.

Not My Word of the Day

Dictionary.com sends me a Word of the Day.

(I remember when Robb and I sat across the table from one another on a date night, both of us more wrapped up in our smartphones than in each other.  I had downloaded the Dictionary app, and he had downloaded the Scientific Table of Elements.

Neither one of us could understand why the other could find a use for such an app, and neither of us minded that we were merely sharing space and little else.  We were both totally okay with that definition of ‘date.’  I still don’t regret it.

Sometimes you’ve got to let each other be.  Sometimes it’s enough to listen to the breath of the person beside you and know that the word ‘beside’ is important and enough.)

Today’s word of the day: fard.

Fard.  v. To apply cosmetics.

Fard. Farding.  Farded.

Yeah, no.  I’m not using this word.

And apparently I’m in fifth grade, because I’ve been saying it in my mind all day, giggling to myself.

“There’s so much farding happening all around me today.”

“I think you need to fard.”

“Whew.  I totally need more face wash.  You know, from all the farding.”

“Look, the woman next to me is farding at the stoplight.”

“Where’s Mommy?” “She’s in the bathroom.  Farding.”

(Robb would have had one glory day with this word.  As would his sons.)

I choose, no thank you, Dictionary.com.
That is not my word of the day.

And I will not say this word out loud.  Nope.  Won’t.

Will not.

Handwriting

I found his handwriting today.  In my checkbook.

That’s all it takes.

I can picture the pen in his hand, the intentionally careless scrawl across the page.

It snuck up on me, like a whiff of his cologne.  It grabs my shoulders and looks me squarely in the eye.

“Hey.  Think about him.”

I flinch.  It’s too hot to hold, too bright to see.

Handwriting is a living thing.

There’s a box of love notes, cards, and printed emails in the basement.  Someday I’ll open it.

Right now, it’s enough to know it’s there.