Friday, August 15, 2008

Lesson in Coolology II

So if you ill-advisedly purchase something from a very expensive,
teenager-haunted mall store, and then you proceed to return it, (you knew you would), do not feel smug in the fact that you are handing the very young, thin, buff male cashier the same chic bag that you bought your items in, and have helpfully included the pristine cash register receipt, right on top of the still-folded clothing items that you are returning.

Do not smile your 40-ish face at this young man, expecting him to enjoy the easy transaction, and hoping he isn't inwardly sneering at what was your vain attempt to Be Youthful and Fashionable, and also hoping that he doesn't know the dismay you felt at home when your arms, which heretofore you believed were relatively thin, could not be jammed into the sleeves of this wretched garment.

Because you never know what he could pull out of that bag when you hand it to him.
It has been sitting in the house for awhile now.
He could pull out an action-figure, or a Barbie torso, or a lint-flecked gumball.

Or, he could pull out a pair of Victoria Secret underwear.
Oh yes.

And because he has already summoned the store manager for the return,
when he pulls out the Underpants,
there is another young, attractive man present to view the spectacle.

Do all three of you stare at his hand, cupping the tiny, still-tagged piece of fabric, uncomprehending?
Oh yes.

At the moment of dawning, do you brighten visibly and say,
"There they are!" and pluck them from his hand, which remains upwardly cupped for a stunned second or two afterwards?
Oh yes.

Do you stuff them into your open purse, and smile placidly at the young men,
pretending not to notice the look that passes between them?
Do you calmly accept your adjusted receipt and walk out with your head held high?
Oh yes,
Oh yes,
Oh yes.


It was time for bed last night, but the moon was beautiful.

The kitchen was a mess.
I was cranky.
Laundry pile in the basement.
Children up too late, and nobody to steer them to bed
because I was just too pooped.

So I said, "Get your shoes on!"
They scrambled.
And out the door we all dashed.
Five of us running, spilling out into the moonlight.

The children understand.
How to just....go.
How we don't have to plan it out, we can just
run for the joy of running in the dark,
down the road, up the hill to the streetlight.
heading nowhere,
enjoying the feel of strong young legs
and healthy hearts.
Gulping air and twirling
because it feels good to twirl.

We ran all the way to the playground,
and right there was a huge mound of woodchips,
new for the school year.
We all scrambled to the top as if that
were our destination all along.

We felt dangerous and illegal up there.
Pacing the length of the mound,
we looked down and everything looked
different from so high.
King of the Hill!

"I hope the cops don't come," I said.
We all looked to the road.
"I saw a car turn in!" middle child whispered.
We froze, ducked down.
"Run!" I yelled.

We descended with steep steps, nearly falling
over each other and splitting up at the bottom.
We ran with whispered shrieks to go this way,
no, this way!
In a dark corner by the school we rested while
twin boy fastened his shoes and heard another car
in the parking lot next.
We hid behind a huge pine while the car
slowly approached and then u-turned to go
the other way!

After much dashing, ducking and hiding we
decided to return to the sidewalk and
"act natural".
Relief followed the exhilaration of our escapes,
and we slowed to a walk,
quieting, talking in murmurs,
looking at the dark houses and shushing each other
because regular people were in bed.

Down our road we watched our shadows and
laughed at how tall and short we became.
We walked with arms around each other's waists
to see what that silhouette looked like,
and then just kept on because it felt so good.
Twin boy danced ahead, stomping on our shadow heads,
an imp making us smile.

It was good to just let the mess go,
to just run away from it,
and smile wide and straight into each other's faces.
Real smiles,

Ah, the moon.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Bad Mom to Good Mom: A Metamorphosis

So we are standing awkwardly at the first cheerleading practice...
twin girl exchanging silent smiles with the other girls, suddenly shy after not seeing each other for two months since school let out.

Some are doing cartwheels, some hanging on their moms, some showing off their youthful energy through impromptu races across the school lawn.

Twin girl tugs on my arm. I look down. She is smiling apologetically and pointing to her shoes. I open my mouth in shock.

She shrugs at the alarm in my eyes.

"These are the only ones I have!"

My jaw tightens and I glance around. Of course I only see the little girls with neat ponytails and brand new shoes. Coordinating outfits...laughing, chatting, coiffed mothers with babies dandled on their hips.

Suddenly I feel a little bit old and worn out, out of place. I have never quite fit in with the Brownie mothers, the cheerleading mothers, even the Ladies Circle at church mystifies me. Misfit! And my child in shoes with her toes hanging out.

I whisper a hurried promise to twin girl that we are going shopping together, just her and I. We will get doughnuts, we will buy school supplies...she will have new shoes. I'm suddenly anxious to make up for everything I might have forgotten about lately:

Making supper.
Buying milk.
Watering the plants.
Reading aloud.
Checking their teeth.

Sometimes the obvious eludes me.

So yesterday I felt the nausea of Things I May Have Missed.
Today I felt the elation of covering all of those bases in one fell swoop.
All it takes is a little dough.
Of which we have little.
She is nine, she's okay with Walmart.