Lizards and Pumpkins

Despite the clear Saturday-ish feeling of the dawn, my son arose babbling and tugging at my shirt for a morning nurse at 6am. My daughter’s knees were delicately wrenched into my side as she continued to snore, and the little guy settled in to nurse as I mentally nodded at the heaviness in my chest.

Hello, you’re still there. 

Coffee. I must coffee. And find a way to make pancakes with this unavoidably adorable ankle-biter constantly reconstructing the cabinets whose doors are bare and knob-less despite the box of brushed nickel knobs I purchased three weeks ago sitting open on top the refrigerator.  There’s a pile of dishes on the counter and another pile in the sink and dammit dammit dammit I left that stupid pot of homemade chicken stock that I simmered for a whole day in the slow cooker out all night and now it’s ruined.

“Mom,” Scout murmured as she slid sleepily down the stairs, “I want to go to Home Depot and get some lemonade.”

“I think that was a dream, babe,” I answer without looking up from the dirty cast-iron skillet I’d been vigorously scrubbing.

Breakfast commenced and ended and I sat across the living room from my husband with our two gremlins playing on the floor and saw it there too: the heaviness in his eyes.

Hello, you’re there as well.  Popular creature I suppose…

We ended up at Home Depot after all.  Both bathtub faucets in the house began leaking in the same way at the same time.  Odd, yes?  Yank-your-hair-out-by-the-roots-frustrating as well.

After a delightful stroll with two children down aisles of fall-hazards, sharp objects, and breakable displays, we found our way home.  At some point, as my fourteen month old breathed steadily on my neck and drifted into a nap, I felt a shift.

I’m putting those fucking knobs on the cabinets.  You can’t stop me.

I slid the dreaming block of pound cake into his crib and slipped out the door, immediately requesting my husband’s power drill.

“You sure?” he asked side-eyed.

“Yes.  I put the knobs on that hangy-thing in the entry way.  I can do this”

Maybe it was my confidence, or my use of common construction terms like “hangy-thing,” but he handed over the drill and walked back into the garage, rummaging for that part that was going to fix the bath faucets once and for all.

I stood in front of the cabinets and faltered, “Um, maybe you could just supervise this first one for me?”

He responded with that chuckle that expressed both amusement and foreknowledge.  He might have just as easily taunted, “I told you so.”

I need him.  I need him for more than supervising cabinet knob attachment.  Last night we were in the middle of a passive-aggressive text fight from opposite rooms of the house.  I had tried to fall asleep mad at him– I was met with a tightening panic instead.  I sent one last text: I don’t know.  I’m just panicking.  I’m fine.  Fifteen seconds later he was wrapping his ever-calming arms around my shoulders, pulling me in and whispering, “You’re OK.  It’s OK.” I fell asleep there.

I’m finally learning there is no weakness in needing someone.

I attached knobs to their respective cabinet as Scout dressed up paper dolls and Wynton paced from the bathroom to the garage, searching for caulk.

It must have been the caulk jokes that turned the morning.  First no one could find it, then there wasn’t enough, at times it was too wet, other times we were unsure of the color, but I delivered each innuendo with dead-pan precision and he responded with a slow-blink and half-smirk at my childishness.  This is how we flirt, y’all.

The rest of the day blurred by and soon I was sliding that same sleepy toddler back into his crib for the night before crashing onto the living room floor to finish Cinderella with Scout.  The Prince had just danced with Cinderella and they had stolen away to a secret wing of the palace to whisper sweet nothings and steal forbidden kisses.  Then, as the story goes, she abruptly announces she has to leave and begins to run away, muttering something about lizards and pumpkins.

“I like that,” Wynton said, smiling boyishly, “lizards and pumpkins… it’s like taking these normal things, and making something valuable and magical.”

“Yeah, man, you’re getting the ear for words now,” I teased.

“Maybe I should start a blog!  I can show the world how I turn weird stuff into treasure!”

He might be serious.  I’m afraid to ask.

Maybe it’s not a blog, dear ones, but maybe it is a life.  Maybe we can pull this heaviness with us and these fears that cling to our chests and maybe we can take these mundane and insignificant details and create something magical?

Because it may be just a day of conquering cabinets knobs and caulk jokes, but these are our lizards and pumpkins and though no godmother is going to turn them for us, just maybe we can create a little magic ourselves?

Bippity boppity boo!


The Golden Girl

She found them as she was rummaging through the sensory table in my toddler classroom: little pebbles spray painted gold to inspire fantasies of pirates and buried treasure in the imaginations of littles. It worked, I guess, because she scooped three of them up carefully, washed them in the sink, and clutched them to her chest. 

“Can I keep them at home, mom?” she asked without whining.

I nodded and asked her to help me take the excess sand from the sensory table out to the playground and dump it. 

“Can I take my treasure?”

I nodded, again.

I was dumping sand when a pair of bouncing brunette braids appeared and said, “hey Scout’s mom? Can I have a gold rock too?”
Before I could reply, two other preschoolers flanked the girl with the braids and added their pleas for some treasure. 

I giggled a little, knowing what they wanted was literally the rocks they were standing on with just a bit of paint. Just the simplicity of it made me smile. 

“Guys, I don’t have any gold rocks. Scout has the last three.”

In hindsight, I shouldn’t have put her on the spot like that. I saw my mistake unfold as the three begged earnestly for just one rock, pleeeeeaaaase. 

Scout looked at me and grinned nervously. I was about to step in when she said, “well I only have three and if I give you each one, I won’t have any.”

Math, y’all. My preschooler just mathed. I was distracted by her awesomeness and achievement in an area I continue to struggle to this day. 
Regardless, she paused a moment and then handed each one of her friends a shining pebble, subsequently making their entire lives it would seem from the squeals and cheers that erupted. 

I was stunned. Math and selflessness? She’s not mine. Check the hospital records.
We walked back from the playground and I praised her like the fan-girl I am for being so awesome and cool and such a great friend. She just grinned at me and said, “I love you, mommy.”

Tonight we read a story together and I cuddled in next to her as she sucked her thumb and gently rubbed my arm with her fingertips. I asked her why she chose to give her friends her rocks, because I hadn’t thought to ask her before. 

“I’m not sure,” she said with her eyebrows furrowed together. 
I patted her curls and kissed her forehead to tell her that reply would suffice. Not everything has to have a reason, sometimes it just is. 

 She had been quiet for several minutes and I thought she was asleep when she said “mommy?” much more alert than I had expected. 
I was a little annoyed when I responded, “You’re not asleep? What?
She cuddled in and and whispered, “you’re my favorite kind of gold.”

*photo credit: Sum and Substance Photography.