Thursday, January 24, 2008

Peanut Butter Cowlicks

The doorbell rang at 8:00 am. In a chilly drizzling rain huddled outside on the porch stood my son's four-year-old baby boy and his mother. They were freezing. Black ice, vehicles in the ditch and a walk to my house a short distance from where she'd left the car. He missed school, she missed some work, and I unexpectedly ended up spending the rest of the day with my blue-eyed wonder boy.
It was a date to remember.

We colored.

We learned about B below C.....

We computered.

It took him ten minutes to master the fine art of dragging and dropping a laptop cursor. I just got frustrated with Thomas Train. He got frustrated because I didn't know all the train names. "What do I know about engines?? I'm just a girl!" and before I could retract that thoughtless sexist statement he laughed, "You're silly, Mimi."

We movied and macaronied.

We vacationed hid in the closet when it was naptime.

I'd promised to watch Bumpety Boo with him. I slipped a fast one, disappearing around the corner to finish a chore in the kitchen, thinking he'd be so engrossed in the movie he wouldn't miss me. What a foolish woman I am.
How little I know about men.
I heard the credits roll. The theme song play. The twenty-five minute movie was over. Not a sound from the living room. He must have fallen asleep in front of the TV.

How little I know about men.

"You missed a lot," he stated as I peeked around the corner to find him wide awake and grumpy. No kidding. I missed the whole thing.

"Rewind it, Mimi," he bounced up and down....."We have to watch it again."

"But why, baby boy, you've already seen it," I tried to convince him. "And why didn't you eat your peanut butter sandwich? "
Never in my life have I heard such a beautiful reply.
You won't believe how little I know about men.
Don't blink or you'll miss this. He said...

"I waited for you to get here. I wanted to share it with you."
  Stop the presses.

A quick sharp painful inhalation and I was down for the humble pie count let me tell ya. I scooped him up in my arms - sticky butter and all - as a tear fell into his cowlicked hair that smelled of innocence and trust.

More than I would ever have again in this lifetime.

For the rest of the afternoon we snuggled under a blanket on the couch, tangled arms and kicking cover legs, giggling at nonsense tumbles and plot lines by a plastic talking car (which he explained in great detail plot by plot by plot by bumpity plot.... "Don't you get it, Mimi?!"), twenty sticky peanut butter fingers later (mine, not his) a warm washcloth to the face and hands (mine, not his) and I was ready for a nap. I'd tried to snooze between car conversations and beep beeps but every time I got close to faking a good old sleep he would take my limp hand and "accidentally" cause it to fall on the side of my face with a smack.
"Oops. Wake up, Mimi."

The child had a point.
No time for sleeping. Let's draw a treasure map.
Mark after criss -cross mark on the bright orange paper, he wanted me to count aloud each one. Start OVER. You missed that one. "You're not very good at that" said the peanut breath boy. No one will ever accuse you of being subtle, I mumbled. I ciphered twenty treasure spots and then some. Where is this island anyway? I asked. "And what's buried in the sand?" He placed his familiar hand on mine to stop my unending questions. Let's go back to seventeen," he said.

Why did those words hurt me so?

He began to count.
"One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three....."
You work on your counting, I thought. I'll go back to seventeen.

I hated seventeen. The year. The age. The memory of the year. Your father was full of himself and a cock's eye away from losing everything he'd worked for. I stroked his unruly hair, my blue-eyed boy tediously hunched over a pirate's map drawn carefully with black marker placing the cross marks in the imagination sand. On the floor with an antique cup full of crayons bearing my Papa's name from a lifetime ago.

A cup full of promises kept.

"You missed one, Mimi. That's seventeen I said!" he chimed.

"Yes, baby. Seventeen comes after sixteen."
I don't want to remember that year either. Your dad. How he tried my patience. Did you know somehow then as you twinkled in the stars with your luminary eyes that you'd come to earth one fine day and save his soul? Did you know, baby boy, that you would break my heart today......with one mention of that hellish year, one flash of his face. Your face.

No. Of course you did not know.

I did not know

until today
this hour
this moment
looking into the trusting curve of your face that I'd feel the strangest sensation... that time had stopped - and some sweet something out of paradise had transformed your tiny frame into that of your father's.

And for one peanut butter afternoon - he was here.

.....his dark brown hair tickling my mommy nose in the night, held tight on the couch of my memory before the wild child grew to be a man - blessing us with an angel child of his own - whose small wiggly frame now lay beside mine on the couch of here and now.
It was you all along.
I feel it.
I know it.


I look at you and try to find something distinguishably different from his. But I cannot. Not a finger. Not a smell. Not a glance.

I have gone to a time before seventeen

before pain

before his ragged epiphany in hell

before crayons on the floor and baseball dreams out the shattered window

before "the year" that nearly killed me


One day I'll tell his story. But not today.

I glanced back at the movie rewinding for the second time now and twenty-four years of your father's life flashed before my very eyes. I ached for the moments that sped past, some raked raw with regret; years that should have been less painful for him, years I wish he could retrieve, a life that that should have been met with less aimless struggle - a life that a four-year-old sage with a heart full of simple trust changed. And as I watched the strange backwards movements of the bumpety cats skipping in reverse I had no doubt that this moment - this day - had been divinely and purposefully ordained.

Before seventeen is a fine time.
You're right, baby boy, I missed a lot.
I missed an awful lot.

Never mind that now. I've a treasure to find.

What posted on Mimi Writes one year ago today? American Idol Review: Never Name Yourself After Food


Nancy said...


And now I am speechless.
Thank you for sharing.

Travis said...

I don't have a comment. I just wanted you to know I was here. And I'll come back to read this piece again.

Be at peace dear.

Desert Songbird said...

I think this is precisely why parents look forward to being grandparents; they get a second chance.

Mimi Lenox said...

Nancy - Thank you for reading.

Travis - I am at peace, Trav. You know sometimes I just have to spill out what I'm feeling. This one was full of raw emotion for me. Thanks for being here for me when I spill the good, the bad....and the bittersweet.

Songbird - In my case, I just love to look at my baby boy and remember those wonderful times with my son. This is one of my favorite ages. Their honesty is uncensored and his poignant comments took me back to some powerful memories. Thanks for commenting.

Julie said...

But I'm not sure I understand your emotions. I don't know if your hurting or happy. Do you? This was very touching...but I don't know what I'm feeling.....

Mimi Lenox said...

Both Julie.
I was surprised myself at how much his visit stirred a reservoir of memories I thought I'd put to rest.
Maybe I need to sort them out, place them on the page......
And leave them there.

I adore him so much. His unconditional love can open a floodgate of healing in me. Sometimes I have to move through the sad to get to the peace. We all do. I'll journal and keep writing.....until I can leave it on the page. If it's currently ambiguous then so be it. Tis my nature.

I very much appreciate your honest comment.

barbara said...

Wow Mimi; that was just beautiful.
You make me think about what little time I really had with my, own grandparents ( of which I had only known my paternal Granny), and how I feel that "hole".

But on your side, your little angel is blessed and so fortunate to have you.
I hope that all you have written about him,his Dad and of course, yourself, will one day be his.

You take care and have a wonderful day.

FoxxFyrre said...

As a child, I lived with my maternal grandparents for a couple of years from the ages of 5 to 8. My parents were still in the forces then, and would come and go depending on their assignments. My grandmother (who I refer to as my Bella Nonna on my blog, but she's Irish, not Italian) and I would spend many an afternoon having fun in much the same manner as your afternoon with your grandson. And she would make all types of sandwiches too for me, but she had quite poor vision and would ofter butter, and peanut butter the table instead of the bread. My Nannie (as I really called her) was very special to me, and it has been a long time since I thought about those special and fun times. Thanks Mimi for brining me back there. I often think about her, and she passed much to early.

Lola did have the good fortune to meet her once before she passed, but she passed months before we got married. I wish she could have been there, but for some reason, I really feel that she does watch over both Lola and I--I really get that feeling sometimes.

Misty Dawn said...

My paternal grandparents raised me from the age of two. My grandfather told my dad once, "I never really worried about any of you kids, but I worry about that little girl of yours". I'm not sure if he was saying that he could foresee the many wrong decisions I would make, or if he was simply expressing that he had more time with me than his own children, which caused him to feel new emotions and new worry.

This is beautifully written Mimi. The way you put things into words draws me in and takes my breath away.

bundle-o-contradictions said...

My time with my children was so short, I missed & am still missing so very much. I'm not very patiently waiting until they come back (or some minds change) & I guess I can only hope to share in some childhood memories with their children. It's all about hope,though. I'm glad you enjoyed your time with your little guy.

Akelamalu said...

Aren't grandchildren just the most precious gift? You get to live your own children all over again. xx

Little Wing said...

All I can say, through my tears, is bless you and thank you for sharing such a touching slice of your life.
Beautiful boy. Beautiful soul. Beautiful Mimi.

Lee said...

You touched me deep with this one, Mimi. Remembering the tough times as my kids grew up and tried my patience to the breaking point. Wondering what each of my grandchildren might be doing at this very minute.

What a wonderful afternoon you had. Even with the difficult memories! Thank you.

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

It is so good to see you and your grandson have such tender moments. He will remember you listening and being with him and not the movie...

Bond said...

Absolutely incredible...your words bring me into your home...letting me sit there in the corner watching it all real...

thank you

Patti said...

This is so beautifully written, Mimi. It's sadness and happiness all rolled into one.
Your blue-eyed baby is one lucky little four-year old.
It's an adorable age, for sure.
Glad you had such a wonderful day with him.

Mimi Lenox said...

Barbara - As readers of this blog know, time spent with my own Papa altered the course of my life. Sounds like yours was special too.

Frank - So now we know Lola and Lily and Nannie. All beautiful women in your life. I'm sure she is still with you. Thanks for sharing.

Misty Dawn - Your grandfather sounds like a very special man. And thanks for the compliment very much.

Bundle - Time is short. That was part of what I felt while writing this.

Akelamalu - They are truly magic.

Little Wing - Again, thank you for reading. He is a beautiful soul.

Lee - All memories are beneficial - even the hard ones - in the process of time.

Bud - It was a wonderful day.

Bond - I saw you watching from the corner! Would you like another peanut butter sandwich?
(and thank you.....)

Patti - I always appreciate your writer's review. You are a talented wordsmith.

Patti said...

Mimi, thank you, but I wish I could write as movingly as you.

I know what my problem is...daily newspapering has made me incredibly succinct.

Have a peaceful Sunday.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

oh my word! what a LOVELY day!!! i am so happy for you honey!

smiles, bee

Robin Lee Sardini said...

My grandson spends a lot of time with me these days..He's just 10 months old. Your recount brought tears to my eyes...I lost so much time with his mother... but now I have him. He is my treasure.
Thank you, Mimi. You have no idea what your words mean to me.

katherine. said...

ah ah ah

I totally loved this post.

so much to take much of you.

I soooo want to be a gramma....

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