Two Movies and Some Sour Patch Kids

Robb and I had a no good, very bad, terrible, horrible history of watching movies together. Any trip to Blockbuster ended in an argument and extreme conclusions drawn about ourselves and our marriage.

He had lots of rules for which movie to pick.
If it doesn’t have enough big names in it, then it probably isn’t good because they couldn’t interest any good actors to be in a movie that sucks.
If it has too many big names in it, then it probably isn’t good because they had to invest in so many good actors and big names because the script and plot and story suck.
If it is on the rental shelves too soon, that means it didn’t last in the box office very long, which means it sucked.
If there are too many copies available on the shelves, that means nobody wants it, which means it sucked.
And nothing, ever, with Woody Allen’s name listed as an actor, director, producer, or endorser.

Add to this list of rules: I invariably, without fail, chose poorly. But a bad movie is still a movie, and I wanted to watch them.

I had this idea that we would be a couple who watched movies after bedtime, on the weekends, on date nights. That we would talk about what it afterward, I would compare it to the book without remotely expecting him to read it, and when the Oscars came around, we would have half an idea of what was going on.

We were not that couple. There are certain things you come to terms with.

But, I’m reinventing myself now, and guess what? The new me: she watches movies.

I caught a double header at the theater on Tuesday night. I saw The Way, Way Back – which I loved, and I will give two thumbs up and I’ll tell you why in another post that’s not about reinventing myself.

When that one ended, I still had over two hours on the babysitting meter, and Jobs (also two thumbs up, also another blog post in the wings) started in seven minutes. Just enough time to get a ticket.

Yes, I thought of quietly slipping into the theater and catching this second movie for free. But I didn’t want to sell my integrity for $10.50. Plus, they strategically put the second movie on the other side of the theater, so one would have to walk right through the lobby looking like a redhanded criminal of piracy.

So I bought a second ticket for my second viewing. And – wait for it – Popcorn, a large diet Coke, and Sour Patch Kids, the ultimate movie candy. And I only needed to take out a second mortgage for all of the above. And ‘butter flavored topping’ both cracks me up and creeps me out.

Sometimes I feel like such a grownup.

This was how I celebrated Robb’s birthday. I wanted to celebrate in a way that would refresh and renew, yet not require me to think about the fact that it was my husband’s birthday. Two movies = Perfect.

Aside from being the ultimate movie candy, those Sour Patch Kids are pretty much the perfect analogy for such an evening by myself: just enough sweet to make it not too sour.

Got Milk?

Some moms go to the grocery store when they’re out of milk.

Others defrost frozen concentrate limemade mix from the freezer for a creative breakfast drink.

I load my kids up and go to McDonald’s on the way to school.

Tomato, tomahto.

Final Edits: Personal Policy

“Hey, guys. Take a look at this.”

A little finger points to the white words on the glossy cover.

“And… life… And Life Comes… BACK! Tricia Lott Williford! Mommy! It’s your book!”

“It’s my book, guys! And look at this page, right here.” I open to the dedication page.

“For Tucker and Tyler. For Tucker and Tyler! For Tucker and Tyler?

“Have you ever had a book dedicated to you before?”

“Never, not in my whole life!”

“Well, here you go. This one is.”

“Are we in it? Did you talk about us?”

“I sure did.” Although not as much as I thought I would, because in the writing the story emerged as a love story rather than a book about little boys or single moms or parenting. “You’re in there.”

“Read to us! Read to us!”

We pile the three of us into one outdoor dining chair on the deck, which is about as awkward as it sounds. But they wanted to be near me, on top of me, in the crooks of my arms and under my chin, and they don’t realize that they’ve grown. They just push their puzzle pieces into these tight spots, and so, of course, I let them.

They light up and laugh over their own antics. One says, “Is that all you said? Is there more in there?” Oh, there’s more in there. We jump around in the text, and I read their names in print in one scene after another.

It was a great, great moment. I asked them, “Are you okay with all the things in there about you?”

“Yes! Oh, yes!”

“Even some of the potty words you said when you were so little?”

“Yes! It’s part of the story!”

“Okay. If you change your mind, you tell me. And I’ll change the book.”

“Really? You can change the book?”

“I can. I have one more chance, and I can’t make lots of changes, but I can make a change like that. You are more important to me than any sentence in any book.”

A few days later, one says to me, “I really actually think maybe I don’t want the book to say that. Just not exactly that.”

I take out my pen and my notebook immediately. “Then let’s change it.”

“Really, Mommy?” I suspect this is more of a test than a true, real offense, but I will set this precedentn carefully.

“Really, buddy. What do you want it to say instead? It has to be funny, because that part was funny. But we can change it a little so you won’t be embarrassed.”

And so we changed it.

I put my notebook away, and I looked at one of my sons, squarely, eye to eye. “These are very important words, buddy. Are you ready? You are more important than anything I will ever write for anyone, anywhere, on any page, in any book. You matter more to me, and you get the final vote. If you don’t want it, I won’t write it. And that will always be true.”

I look to his brother, and I repeat the same words. Because one should hear these words spoken directly to him, about him, not a blanket statement that applies to anyone else.

Sweet boys, I promise this to you. You have my word, my sacred oath.

And from this day forward, don’t ever believe anyone, ever, anywhere, in your family or in the far corners of the world, who suggests I exploited or disrespected you. If you have any questions about what I’ve written or what I will write, you can ask me and I will always be honest with you.  You are my sons before you are anything else.  And you are not characters in a story, part of the conflict and resolution, or pieces of the story arc.

You are mine.  And you are safe in this family, in our home, and in my words.

So help me, God.

“Oh, yeah. That so happened to me, too.”

Jack stopped by to show us the brand new red cast on his arm.  Evidence of a battle wound when he fell from the clubhouse in the backyard.  This reminded us of when Tucker broke his arm, a memory only I seem to hold with accuracy.

Here’s how I tell the story:

Tucker was 21 months old, and Tyler was six weeks old.  We put Tucker down for a nap on a Sunday afternoon, and he was angry to be inside his crib.  In his revolt against naptime, he jumped in a fit of fury. With his tummy against the rail, he became top-heavy and flipped himself out onto the floor.

Seconds later as he screamed, I found him lying on his back, and I’m still not sure how that happened.  Quite a flip, I guess.  Anyway, it was a clean break across his wrist.  He learned a clever way to get his cast off, by wedging it into the grocery cart and then sliding his arm out.  Five times.  In the end, an orthopedic specialist put him in a cast up to his shoulder, just so Houdini would keep it on.

And if it wasn’t already tricky enough to add a newborn to the toddler dynamics at our house, now I had a toddler with a red fiberglass club to contend with.


Here’s how Tucker tells that story:

“Oh, you have a broken arm?  Oh, that so happened to me too.  One time?  When I was a baby? My mommy put me to bed in a crib with no sides to it.  And I was so mad, and I double flipped over the side and half of my whole arm came off.”