pull up a chair

where wisdom gathers, poetry unfolds and divine light is sparked…

Month: June, 2007

midnight snakes with captain fun

a hundred years ago, or so it seems, a man i know, a man who at the time was on the brink of becoming the father to our firstborn son, fluffed the pillow under his head and let fly with this: “you’ve never seen the side of me that’s coming. i am going to be mush.”
his point, a point that made me sit bolt upright, or at least as upright as a woman at 38 weeks gestation is able, was as if God had rolled back the tincan lid of tightly packed rainbows, and given me a peek of the indigo and violet to come.
“mush, eh?” i remember mulling the words around and around in my head. i wonder what that means.
now, mind you, when a youngish woman (okay, so i was 30 when i met him, and 34 when i married him, but for the sake of story, and relatively speaking, let’s call it young) is out there in the game of love, she is not probably carrying around a checklist, which, in the top three slots, lists “must be mushy for the children.”
no, i’d say i was more taken, at the time, by his holey loafers, and the seersucker shorts, rumpled with the hem hanging down on one leg, that he wore to meet my mother. (she was wholly taken, pulled me aside, whispered, “he’s so old shoe!” which in her book was/is the highest form of desirability.)
so, yes, i carried on with this old-shoe fellow for quite a while. i believe i was mostly taken by his way with words and his holey loafers. and the fact that i felt i could talk to him for forever.
i did know that i adored his papa, yet another old-shoe fellow. an old-shoe fellow who had a charming habit of inhaling stacks and stacks of newspapers, and loaves of challah at shabbat dinner, and who, too, had a remarkable knack for listening and carrying on hours-long, heartfelt dinner conversations.
(note to mother-in-law: i adored you too, but this is about papas. today is papa day here at the table.)
i don’t believe i thought much about what kind of papa will this long, tall, holey, dapper, son of newspaper fellow be.
until the morning he made the comment about the mush in the making.
that got me wondering. that made me want that baby to come right then, so we could do away with the distractions and get a real live look at mush in action.
sure enough, the baby came.
although, given that, in the thick of the child’s laborious arrival, the papa of the impending child was drawn deeply and distractedly into the chicago bulls three-peat celebration on the little labor-room tv–so much so i had to ask him if maybe we could pay attention to the seismic contractions coming from within me–i might have suddenly wondered where his definition of mush and mine parted ways.
but i was too busy pushing out that irish-headed child. (psst, for you who’ve not pushed out an irish-headed child, the term is code, as i shouted out mid-push, for a big head that’s going to hurt like holy flames as it escapes the womb.)
but we digress.
to telescope the story here, to bring it down to size, is to say that you sometimes have not a clue, just an inkling maybe, of the sort of father to your children you are taking on when you wander down that wedding aisle.
in ways i never would have guessed, i have learned to be a better mother watching my mushy mate be a father to his sons.
two things leap to the front of my brain: midnight snakes and captain fun.
midnight snakes would be the time-honored tradition around here of man and boy coming down the stairs when all is dark, lifting box of cereal from the shelf, pouring little o’s and milk, spooning.
and while they spoon, they talk. they giggle. they share the day. it is a rite the man i married shared once upon a time with his grandpa. and nearly every night around here, i see his grandpa come back to life in the form of a bowl, a spoon, and a shared placemat at the table.
you see, the man i fell in love with because we could talk forever, about really important things, about things that matter, well, he does the same with the boys i birthed.
so i have learned from him the fine art of not rushing to bed because it’s bedtime and the clock says that children need to be asleep. but rather to honor that the day is drawing to a close, and closing a blessed stretch of hours with crunchy o’s and milk and conversation is a consecration of the day that’s worthy of momentarily delayed slumber.
and besides, it tells a boy that he is worthy of his father’s full and complete attention before he nods off for the night.
then there’s captain fun. there is no fluttering cape involved in this. no phone booth either. just a papa who picks up the slack in the mama’s less-than-spontaneous department.
whereas the mama might say something wholly lame, like, no, let’s stay home and weed the garden, the papa will be digging through the stack of maps and guides, plotting out some eye-opening adventure, taking this show on the road.
the duties of captain fun include spins to dairy queen, hikes in the woods, museum outings. banging buckets of golf balls, riding amtrak trains across the country, or just downtown (when the metra train, a reasonable alternative, is closer to home by a few miles, but nowhere near as romantic–to a locomotive-loving little boy, that is).
of course it is not all fun and games around here. but i am only saying that those boys had better get on their knees and thank God they do not only have a mama because if she was plotting out the days, they might be short on all of the above and long on chores.
or ticking through the list of to-dos so that some day, some godforsaken day 100 years down the road, there might be a chance of carving out some fun to go along with all the drudgery.
the man i married has taught me the incandescent beauty of up and making room for adventure, and laughter, too. as hardworking as he can be, he can be pure unbridled escape.
i sometimes wonder if it is born of a deeply-steeped jewish sanctification of the holiness and blessing of every drop of light and life. as opposed to my deeply-steeped catholic inclination to scrub my soul of all my sins before i can even think to knock at the gates of paradise.
while i spin that notion around in my tumble dryer, the one at the top of my neck, let me say simply this: while i never knew it was coming, hadn’t a clue ‘til i first heard word of the mush, i am so delighted, and so deeply eternally blessed, that i signed on for a lifelong stint with captain fun and the midnight snakes.
and my boys, especially, oughta high-five me for that one.

see, it’s a blessing, ain’t it, that whoever invented human procreation realized, unlike worms, it takes two to tango. that often means that one is yin to the other’s yang. and, baby, i got some yang that needs yinning. in your house, or in your life, how do the grownups balance each other out? or, if you’re doing this whole thing solo–and God bless you if you are–how hard is it to strike your own personal yin and yang? what fine traits, or traditions, have you seen passed down from one papa to the next?
and while we’re at it, happy blessed fathers day to all those who father, a verb that might be pinned to either gender, as to mother is to all who tenderly embrace the world. to father, i suppose, is to absorb the shock of the tough, cruel world, to shine a flashlight on the wisdom lurking out in the dark, and to teach a thing or two about sliding into home. feel free to add your own definitions down below…..

tepee prayers


the rose of sharon, i believe, laid down its life for our tepee. since the day we moved here it was a ragtag of a bush, a wanna-be tree. mostly it was naked branches, with a few crepe-papery pink-to-rosy-pink blooms that emerged but two weeks a year. call me heartless, i called it a space holder.

my mother, chief gardener around here, kept calling it dead. i was not so quick to give up on it. despite the lack of evidence to the contrary. despite the fact that i didn’t even like it.

not so many mornings ago, wielding a saw that could take your leg off with one quick flick of the wrist, she all but signed the death certificate. she marched right toward it with that zig-zagged blade. and we, no fools, stood back.
george washington, masquerading as my mother, took it down. in six swift flicks, with maybe a little tugging and pulling besides.

bingo. a light went on. synapse met with synapse, Idea was born. what with six long, clean branches lying there on the ground, a heap headed only for the curb, someone’s well exercised recycling gene kicked in: “make a tepee,” that someone shouted.

and so, my mama did. she taught the little one how the native americans did it.

while they were gathering the goods, i pointed them to the most sacred spot around, a clearing under the great blue spruce, on the eastern edge of our backyard, where the slant of firstlight comes early, comes poking through the cracks in the next-door neighbor’s cedar fence. it’s a place i call “the magic place.”

i always say, it’s the reason we bought this house. or at least my reason. my heart belonged to that place before a single paper was signed.

if you believe, like i do, that every child deserves a thinking place, a cove under the pines, where you can look up and barely see the sky through all the boughs and all the needles that make the light play peek-a-boo. if you believe that God made rocks as perches for endless contemplation, then you too would understand why i saw the space and heard my name being whispered.

you too would understand why i cared nothing about bedrooms or bathrooms, and certainly not about water heaters or air conditioning, because this was a house with a magic place, and i knew, as my mother and my little one carried their pile of sacrificial branches, that this would be the magic place for our little tepee.

my mother, hardwired with engineering skills that wholly escaped me, had it up in no time. tapped the builders on the shoulder, asked if they minded donating an old blanket to the cause. it was a blanket that was keeping my couch from getting splattered but we–the couch, the builders and me–offered it up for the high purpose of a tepee.
if we’d had a little deerskin, like the woodland natives, we’d have wrapped the sticks in that. but we are short on deerskins this season.

in theory, this was a tepee for the little guy. and just the other day, he humored me and spent some time in there.
but, fact is, it’s mine. i’m the one who can’t seem to stay out of there. i’m the one with my too-long legs all hunched up under me, trying to fit inside without knocking down the tepee poles. i’m the one who cannot keep my eyes off the undersides of all the pine boughs. i’m the one enchanted by all the chirping that surrounds me.

among the long list of secrets of parenting, there is this: the little person, often, is a front, an excuse, a bold-faced oh-no-it’s-not-for-me-it’s-a-tepee-for-my-little-woodland-warrior sort of fabrication. yup, that’s the truth, now, isn’t it?

so the little tepee that was intended to give my little person unbroken hours of imagination and forest-floor picnics and a cool place to curl up and turn the pages of a picture book, well, it’s giving me a place to pray.

it is impossible not to pray when you are curled up on the bed of soft pine needles there against the hard, cool earth. and all around you shafts of light are beaming in. the light, the way it’s filtered, is filled with floating bits; it is almost as if each particle is drifting down, as if a molecule of light was yours to reach, to grab, to close inside your fist, as if a firefly.

and then there are the wrens. just beyond the clearing, just beyond the pines, i have an old white bird house standing on a six-foot perch. it does have a short, squat cupola on the peak of its rusty coppery roof, and i always thought it was a schoolhouse. my little one corrected me, “it’s a church.”

and it seems a whole brood of baby wrens were hatched inside that church, and you can hear them chirping. especially when their mama or their papa comes to the little gothic window on the side, offers them a seed or spider.

“they are praying,” my little one whispered to me just yesterday, when he was in there with me–in the tepee, that is, not the bird church.

“what are they praying?” i whispered back.

“don’t let us get killed by the cat. don’t let us get killed by the cat,” he again whispered, this time with the fervency of baby birds who might have eyed the gray-striped jungle cat who makes his home outdoors in summer, and licks his lips a lot.

an apt prayer in the land of the ever-prowling cat.

my prayers there are not so explicit. my prayers are more hushed and awed. i feel my soul filling as i sit there, take in the light, the sound, the softness all around me.

emily dickinson, in a poem i know nearly by heart because i heard my mama reciting it so often, writes: “some keep the sabbath going to church; i keep it staying at home, with a bobolink for a chorister, and an orchard for a dome.”

i second the motion, madame poetess, sitting there in my prayerful tepee under the pines.

only my chorister is a house wren. and the choir is all the chirping babies. a mottled rock is my kneeler. the scent of pine, my incense. my holy altar is the wren’s chapel and birthing room. a sacred chamber, all around.

“God preaches–a noted clergyman, and the sermon is never long,” emily writes.

“so instead of going to heaven at last, i’m going all along.”

amen, sister. amen.

my holy tepee, the place i pray these days, is taking me to heaven, all right. its strong straight branches wrap me all around, its tippy-top points me toward the the puffy clouds where little children sometimes think to look for God, sitting on a shiny throne.

my little tepee under the pines is indeed a rocketship for prayer, and i’m strapped in for the holy blessed ride.

blessed holy chair friends, do you have a prayerful place, a sacred clearing where you can’t help but fill your soul? did you have a place when you were little that filled you with wonder, and thus with the Divine? i am sitting back, holding my breath, waiting for the beauty of your stories…

calculating distance

i was feeling faraway the other night, so i pulled out my little jar of pushpins and made me a map.
that would be my village, right up there, sticking up from the puzzle piece of the fine ol’ u.s. of a. a piece i could trace with my eyes closed, the little stocking foot for florida, the turkey neck of maine, the round smooth back of the california coast, and, i guess, the dangly belly of the lone star state. poor texas. poor dangly-belly texas.
i just now did the math. if i hopped in my old wagon, if i packed a case of water bottles, threw in some granola, and a banana or two, if i started driving, heading north, north-east for starters, and kept driving ’til i waved hello to all my brothers–there are four, you know–i would clock 5,304 miles. i would be on the road, without potty breaks, mind you, for 81.6 hours, or 3.4 days.
and that’s clippin’ along at 65 mph, not catchin’ a single wink. not even a Z. let alone a little string of zzzzs.
no wonder i hardly ever borrow a cup of sugar from the one who lives in maine. or long beach. or prescott valley, arizona. or, heck, not even toledo, a mere 215 miles, door-to-door. because blessedly my baby brother picked the toledo in ohio and not clear off in spain.
now, once upon a time, we all lived in the same area code, but that was so long ago the area codes hadn’t been broken into a hundred little chunks per metropolitan area. and as recently as just last year, when i put out the call for family dinner, i could count on my doorbell ringing a full three times. i set nine places at the table. we were a raucous noisy crowd.
but now, one year and two days later, i would call only my mother. at eighth-grade graduation last week, we did our very best to keep up the noise. my mama, thanks to a fine sauvignon blanc, had us in stitches, she truly did.
but some times, some times when i hang up the phone, i feel so very far away. and it gets me to thinking how odd it is that the very dearest souls in my life are spread across the map.
i’m not there to bump into them on the sidewalk. can’t look into their eyes and see the heavy load, the one that’s wearing one to the bone. can’t reach across the table, and give a hand a squeeze. geez, i couldn’t even see the sparkly ring one just gave his true love. i had to twiddle my thumbs while the airlines took a reservation, cleared two seats, flew them clear to here from the desert far away.
too far sometimes.
and then there is the circle of oldest, dearest friends. heck, you would think someone took my heart, tossed it in the air and watched the pieces come down coast-to-coast. there’s the one i love in key west. another handful in new york city and environs and two off in the city of angels.
of my best old friends, two, i kid you not, do not have computers. fool me, falling for the types who would do without technology in a world that’s nearly wholly hard-wired.
that means we are left to letters. oh, yes, let me sit right down here and squeeze some letter-writing into the day. and phone calls. and i don’t know about you but even a phone call these days is pressed for chance and time.
some weeks, when one of us is feeling lonely, the back-and-forth phone messages can last all week. can constitute a hyphenated sort of stringing together verbal bits. the pressing matter spit out in 60-second sound bites, or longer if the phone machine does not rudely cut someone off in the middle of a heartache.
and, fool i am again, i barely use a cell phone, so to catch me you have to catch me in my kitchen. before i am tossing around a skillet in the narrow window of 5:55 to 6:25.
how, i ask you, in a world in which to circle the wagons is to operate in four time zones, countless area codes, and even more ZIP codes, is a soul supposed to be there for the silence between the syllables? know the joy of hearing the other’s footsteps come bounding up the walk? catch the raised eyebrow that hints, this here is a tease, or a really important point, one you might want to lean in for, one you do not want to miss by getting up to clear the plates?
i miss the ones i love. i miss them deeply and achingly. i miss, most of all, the waking up to the possibility that on any given day i might take a taste of one’s fine balsamic dressing, hear the other one pounding out some bach or brahms, find my boys climbing over them like ants to a popsicle.
this long-distance needs a spin through my dryer. maybe i could shrink it. reach out and hold on tight to the ones i love.

how bout you, people? how long and far and infrequently do you connect with the ones who truly make you who you are? do you, like me, have a global village that takes a dsl to bring you close? do you miss the plain old touch of a hand across the table? the spontaneity of a long tall glass poured there at the kitchen counter, walked out to the front stoop, where, together, you can watch the world go by? i know we’ve spent time talking about the little things you can drop in the mail, and the way you can fuss when someone’s coming in from out of town. but heck, some days there is no substitute for the real live thing. and right in here, as one school year ends and a summer begins, it can get a little lonely, eh?

sign me up

they even gave me popcorn. a little cellophane-wrapped folded-up bag of unpopped kernels, to tuck in the microwave and listen to it do its rat-a-tat.
and a purple folder. and a recommended reading list. and all the rules.
oh, yes, oh yes, they did. and i am, you can maybe tell, as giddy as a girl in pigtails bouncing down the library stairs.
which is what i used to be. which is, all the doctor phils of the world would tell us, who i am today. my inner child must be a little girl who knows no grander glee than signing up for the summer reading program at the local library.
it’s what we did yesterday, me and m’ boys. it was the highlight of our first official monday of this here summer vacation, the start of the first full week of the 11 or 12 we’ve got (no one in this house seems to know just when this grand spell ends and we are in no hurry to check it out, i’ll tell you).
it was a toss-up: beach or bookshelves. and the bookshelves won. handily. the sand, we figured, will always be there. the little chart that counts the summer reading books, they might run out, you never know.
we all signed up, both boys and me. oh, yessiree.
the little one in the read-to-me plan. nestle in, sink your elbows and your shoulders in your mama’s side, turn the pages, take in the story, one book at a time, and you get an ice cream cone after 25. how fine is that?
the big one, the one who’s reading nietzsche and marx and everything under the sun about cameras, lenses and light, he went straight downstairs to where the grownups go. he got the popcorn too.
i imagine the two of us, inhaling handfuls of popcorn as we inhale our books. we’ll be sure to share with the little guy. long as he gives us a lick of his ice cream. can a summer get any more delicious?
i can see it, clear as if it wasn’t 40-something years ago, the little white folded sheet of librarian’s paper. an underwater scheme. and every time i read a book i got a little submarine stamp on the chart with my name on it. the one they kept, so proudly, right there on the library counter, in some sort of shoebox with alphabet dividers. i remember walking up to that librarian’s desk, there in the children’s section, announcing my name, reporting what i’d read since last time.
it was the honor roll of all honor rolls. i remember the end-of-summer reading party. we all got little cups of ice cream. vanilla. with a wooden spoon.
but mostly we got afternoons of reading. and reading. we got to bury our little noses in lewis carroll, and laura ingalls wilder. and best of all, frances hogdson burnett’s secret garden.
it was a rite of summer, it was a rite of being my mother’s child. my mother was a reader. and thus, we read too. like little ducks, we waddled in behind her. she split off to her corner of the library, we split off to ours.
we waddled out, an hour later, maybe longer, our arms growing, stretching, coming loose at the socket, under the weight of so many books. piled high, like up above. so many books you sometimes had to peek around the stack, to keep from tumbling down the steps.
and so, i’m the mama waddler now. i want my children to know, to love, the thrill of counting up the book list. to conquer ice cream maybe, but to conquer something more. to understand that to spend your summer afternoons tucked in a book is an adventure ride you’ll never ever, not in a million, or 50, years forget.
there is, i think, something to the structure of the summer reading program. the signing-up and all makes it feel official. like getting a driver’s license maybe. before you could ever reach the gas.
and then watching all the little stars–this year at our library it’s outer space and rocket ships that are the theme, there is always a theme, i can imagine the librarians meeting over sandwiches and coffee to come up with a theme to hook you in–and, one by one, the stars get colored in.
it makes it not so overwhelming to spend the summer reading books, when you count, one star at a time. and then, before you know it, you go back to school that much more in love with what’s tucked between the covers.
it is a heady thing, when you stop to think that once upon a time someone in this thing called civilization stopped to think it worth building whole temples to books and words and ideas. someone built a special house just for the love of letters.
and then, much later, some librarian looked at the whole long summer and realized that a little piece of folded-up paper, with stars and shapes to color in, could make the whole big temple come down a size, to fit in the palm and the heart of a little child, who thought it rather grand to sign up for a starship ride to books.

dear chair people, today marks six whole months, half a blessed year of meandering monday through friday. we have coursed many ups and downs, around some bends as well. i myself have had my breath taken away, more than once. it has been my daily intention to feed us all, to give us place and time to pause, to consider the not-oft considered. as it’s summer now, i am thinking we might all relish the lazy days before us, in the very best way. as one fine mind suggested, i might move the kitchen table outside, into the sunshine, make it a picnic table. if i’m so inspired i will pound out the usual meandering. but i might put out a recipe, a really juicy one. a one that shouts of summer. or maybe i will share some photos. my will, a.k.a. the manchild, is making art of what he sees around him, and you might like to see it too. if i find a really delicious paragraph in what i’m reading, i might lay that out for all to take a taste. or we might, perhaps, have another voice pull up a chair, with a meditation by someone other than just moi. it seems a right thing, a divine thing, to honor the season’s tempo and let things unspool here the way that summer does. each day there will indeed be something fresh and something new. but heaven only knows what will inspire us each day. for the six months past, with all my heart i thank you. this has been a little piece of paradise.

now, does anyone have anything to say about summer reading, the best, perhaps, that there is?

i’ll have a scoop with red eyes, please

it had been the summeriest of weekends. farmer’s market saturday morn, followed by a hike in a woody place where a fawn, not knowing it should be afraid, up and tiptoed into my shadow. a grand dinner in a friend’s beautiful bountiful garden. strawberry rhubarb pie for breakfast, i kid you not, in the summer porch where the breeze and the wren warbling made me want to stay all day. screens washed and tucked in windows, so the breeze, the one that swept through the pie-in-the-porch breakfast could also cool our nights. a stroll to the beach where a 3-year-old we love decided she had no need for a sandy-bottomed bathing suit, so off it went, and she romped naked, much to the 5-year-olds’, there were two of them, giggly discombobulation. heck, the weekend was so fine, even the last-minute grilled chicken came off juicy, down to the last sun-dappled bite.
so, as the great orange orb went down in the west, and the cicada turned down the sci-fi channel for the night, the one i love, the one who has a license to do so, jangled the car keys in that way a papa sometimes does, making the ping of the keys an invitation without words.
then came the words: “who wants to go for cicada ice cream?”
a question, of course, that can only be met with squeals. and little feet running out the door. straight toward the car.
the little one, hearing the words “ice” and “cream” in the same breath, was on for the mission. regardless of whatever ol’ modifier got in the way there. the big one, curious, vowed to stick with water. but he buckled in anyway.
the one with the keys started the car.
“do you think it’ll be kind of orangey, with crunchy little wings in it?” he asked, pulling away from the curb.
let us explain where the man on a mission was headed: there is a fine old ice cream parlor nearby, a place so beloved that when the owner died a couple years back the sidewalk was so packed with bouquets and hand-scribbled letters from children, children who wrote about the joy of walking in a shop where, no matter how the day had been ’til that minute, the man with the scoop behind the glass counter, the man with the phalanx of tubs lined up before him, the man willing to give a whole spoonful for free and call it a taste, the man who always knew you by name, or found out right away if he didn’t, well, you couldn’t get around the mountain of sadness there at the curb.
you couldn’t get around ’til they opened the door and starting scooping again. and, being that this is the summer of the cicada, at least around here it sure and crunchily is, they posted a big sign on the door, advertising cicada bug ice cream.
and what with all the talk of cicadas for lunch (a friend of my manchild brought them one day, right into the junior high cafeteria, all battered and fried and chasing the girls away), why not add that certifiable cicada crunch to the creamy vats of vanilla?
thus, as he rolled through the darkening lanes, and turned right at the light, the one with the keys was upping the ante, all right.
“you mean you’ll come along for the trip but you won’t take the cicada challenge?”
this to the boy who just nights before had a snail dangling from the end of his petite little fork.
apparently, the boy draws the line at wild things with cellophane wings. the boy will not bite into bugs with red eyes.
the little one, he leapt from the car. once we got there, that is. could not get into the ice cream shop fast enough. me, i dallied there on the sidewalk. though i was more than game to be family documentarian.
the little one took one look, and opted for superman ice cream, a royal-blue-red-and-yellow concoction that despite a few minutes of rubbing with washcloth still sent him to bed with royal-blue lips, and royal-blue tongue.
the one who’d vowed water, in the end went with root beer; one scoop, sugar cone, please.
and mister cicada challenge himself tiptoed, ohyessiree, into the uncharted terrain, mind you, this is a man whose idea of the perfect bedtime snack is a pop-tart straight from the aerospace foily packet.
he asked for a taste. he dangled the spoon in the air, then he bit.
pffffffft, you could see the air leaking out from his cicada balloon. there were no red eyes in there. no wings. and no crunch. no crunch from the genus magicicada, at least.
the crunch, it turned out, was that of the ho-hum southern pecan.
the tub of so-called “cicada bug” ice cream was nothing but vanilla with swirls of chocolate and caramel and a few pecans thrown in the mix.
“i’m bummed,” said the one left licking the spoon. “no real cicada. no edge. no frisson. just bourgeois fudge swirl.
“it’s all marketing. the triumph of marketing. a metaphor for our civilization.”
he up and ordered rainbow sherbet, he did. and the cicada challenge was put to a rest, where it will lie, deep underground, for the next 17 years. until a gent, just past retirement, hobbles back to the shop with the taunt on the door and tries once again to take a bite of the creamy cold bug with red eyes.

sometimes summer is just for the tale of it, no burning point, no deep metaphor, despite mr. cicada cone’s quip up above. so it is with this tale. just a slow gentle start to the week. how did you spend this summery if-not-yet-summer weekend?
p.s. should you care to cruise for some of the finest dairy-made ice cream there is, point your mobile toward hartigan’s ice cream shoppe, 2909 central street, in evanston. or check out their site at
www.hartigansicecream.com. you can always bring your own ‘cadas, and bury them deep inside the cone. anyone out there in chairland try the flying winged thing said to taste like cold canned asparagus? ykkh. tantalize with your tales…

1, 2, 3, breathe…

the little one dashed in the door. “i’m in first grade now.” the big one slept ’til noon. it’s official, we’re out of school. the summer can begin.
bring on the lemonade. the stalks of mint pirouetting out from every icy glass. bring on the pb&j, smeared, sliced and delivered in one fell swoop. no more lunch bags. bring on the big fat book, the one whose pages will be ruffled, worn, splashed, dried, splashed again, before the story ends.
bring on the wide-open unstructured days. the days when no schedule whatsoever might drive a mama mad, by, um, 10 a.m.
gulp. here we go. time to fill the days, the weeks, the months, with the stuff that summer’s made of. the stuff your kiddies count on. the stuff that puts summer up in lights, makes it the thing that children locked in school desks dream of, the stuff that gets the breathless mamas ’round the final bend.
knowing, any minute now, there will be no more, no more.
no more keeping track of papers and permission slips. no more rolling sleeping tree trunks out of bed at dawn. no more light seeping out from under the bedroom door well past midnight because there is a kid and a computer, racing to beat a morning deadline.
no more friday folders, the thing we’ve come to love, to count on, when a week of kindergarten work gets poured onto the maple table and we all sit around and ooh and ahhh. and a little boy feels so very proud.
i do believe this is a twisty time. on the one hand, breathe. on the other, oh my goodness. what now?
i wonder, i really do, how many minutes it will be ’til we’re in tears here. ’til the training wheels get wobbly, or the ice cream rolls off the cone. or, lord, oh lord, it is so hard for sweet delicious summer to live up to its bright and shining billing.
already, my big one, the one who heaved a heaving sigh when all was done, well, already, he has mentioned that it is strange, and sort of lonely, to be left alone all day with just your thoughts, and no bumping into friends every five seconds in the crowded hallways where good company, ever-changing company, is just a locker or a classroom or a lunch table away. and where a phone call is not a part of the equation, of the exchange. where your mama and your kid brother might be the only other humans you bump up against all day.
summer is like that. an ample dose of shadow with the sunlight, the never-ending sunlight. it is a law of physics, of nature, of the divine. let there be light. let there be darkness. so sayeth the holy book.
for every night out under the stars, there are swarms of mosquitoes. for every jingling of the ice cream truck and its distant drawing-near-you bell, there is the chance that you won’t hear it, won’t find your wallet, ’til the truck is past your house and around two corners, and you are left with an ice cream believer in tears, there at the empty, cone-free curb.
on the kid side of the equation, summer is infinite, and fairly endless, too. it is day after day of decisions no bigger than strawberry or raspberry jam with that peanut butter.
but to a mama, egad, look out. it can be daunting when what’s expected is pure, 100-percent, old-fashioned fun. planned by you, the cheery tour director.
not in this house, people. i find myself wanting. i find myself coming up short in the summer fun department.
do i pack a picnic every sunny day? i do not. do i haul my kiddies back and forth to the pool every blessed afternoon, like some of the other mommies? i do not. do i remember sunscreen? no.
heck, two-to-one, i forget to stock up on buns to wrap around the hot dogs that are dozing in the meat drawer of the fridge.
why the big harrumph here, you ask? why the grouchy, grumpy grumbling?
did we not just barrel down the pike, finally reach our exit, pull up the ramp, find a shady spot to park there under the pines?
geez, i don’t mean to be a gnat dive-bombing your drippy popsicle. hate to be the chill wind that brings you goosebumps there in your sensible swimsuit, the one with the little skirt that hides those cottage-cheese thighs.
guess it’s just, well, i’ve been here before, started out the summer daydreaming of all that might be. only to wind up, down the road in august, wistful for what wasn’t, feeling sunken, ship-wrecked, for all i did not do.
so here’s to a summer of realistic, reasonable intentions.
i will surrender to the easy ways.
to afternoons in the summer house, not minding that half the screens have holes so the bugs can cozy in beside me.
to lemonade stands, with lemonade stirred from powdered drink mix.
to naked hot dogs.
to random, not regular, trips to the library, the ice cream store, the beach—those stalwarts of summer, each, but ones that lose their joy if provided on calculated schedule instead of whim.
i will not flog my sorry self for not lining up the A+ summer jaunt, the sunrise trail ride, complete with blue-corn flapjacks and cowboy ghee-tar strains.
i will not wince when we finally pack a picnic but leave the drinks in the cooler back in the garage, where we put them down, so we could haul out the junk from the station wagon to make room for the wicker basket.
i will not beat my breast because another summer’s passed me by, and i’ve yet to make it to the ferris wheel that calls my little one’s name every single time we drive zooming by.
it’s been a really, really long school year. it’s had its ups and downs, its scrapes, its spills.
excuse me while i sit back and let the summer merely be.

summer forecast: accumulated clouds with plenty of sunshine. occasional storms. a rainbow once or twice. not such a nasty forecast, is it? what do you hope to do this summer? what tales of summer letdown do you have to get the good times rolling? and what about school’s out traditions?
we buy a book. go somewhere silly for lunch. last night, as it was afternoon kindergarten we were winding up, we went for hot dogs and lollipops. the night before it was escargot for the eighth grader. my boys are from opposite sides of the moon, what’s a mama to do? love them each madly, the snails, the lollipops, both…..


so i tiptoed into the junior high gym last night, wielding a cigarette tray of glow sticks.
it was my ticket in. i took it, gladly.
it was my boarding pass into the realm of the boy-meets-girl, girl-asks-boy-to-dance, girl-mob-rushes-boy-mob that passes these days for the eighth-grade graduation dance.
i had signed up weeks ago. months ago, probably. as one who loves an archeological dig, especially one in real time, one in the now, this, i knew, could be instructive.
i might, i figured, pick up a few tidbits i could use. like how in the world it is that boys and girls grope their way through the uncertain world of beginner romance. especially here on the leafy over-the-top north shore in james bond’s big, big year, the real deal, ’007.
(the decorating mamas took that one to the limit, parking a jet black ferrari, i kid you not, on the school’s front lawn. an interpreter had to explain to me that bond always drives a ferrari. oh. a local police officer spent his shift guarding the shiny car. good thing wednesday night is not a big night for crime around here; the officer was otherwise engaged, keeping pawprints off the pricey hood.)
i also knew i might discover what sort of trouble these little darlings might get into in, say, the bathroom, where i was told to keep my eye out for more than two feet in a stall.
it all sounded like news i could use.
and, oh, it was.
but, alas, i got the beginner tour. i was on the early shift, where mostly there is lots of boys with boys and girls with girls, and a curious abundance of jumping up and down.
i missed the advanced class, the end-of-night shift. that’s when, apparently, the slow dance kicked in. that’s when i really might have learned things.
oh, well.
blessedly for my manchild, i barely caught a glimpse of him all night. saw him whooping into the gym, arms flailing. but that was it. i stayed my distance.
and besides, it was my job to pass out glow-stick bracelets from my cigarette lady tray. i was mobbed, i tell you.
children on the verge of high school seem to like to grab the candy-colored straws, the ones that look like you could suck out the kool-aid powder from inside. only this kool-aid glows when you crack the straw.
the eighth-grade children didn’t seem to mind that it wasn’t kool-aid. they draped their every body part in glow. there were kids, by the time my shift was up, who were walking serpentines of neon.
it was rather psychedelic, if i dare say so, if saying so doesn’t date me from the days of woodstock and just beyond.
but anyway, back to why i was there in the first place. as one who long stood on the edge of a dance floor, combing the crowd for bits of telling detail (for work, mind you, not for personal entertainment, although i’ve always found it highly entertaining), i thought this scene might be ripe for a cherry-picker like me.
and besides, we have entered a whole new world over here in the boy-meets-girl department.
once, not long ago, girls were stationed firmly on the other side of the globe. as if a line had been drawn across the hemisphere, and Y chromosomes dared not cross the line. girls and boys steered clear. did not speak. barely even at a family dinner where the boy and girls had known each other since they were drooling, since back in the days of diapers changing willy-nilly next to each other on some rubber mat, their mothers randomly yanking naked little legs into the air, wiping bottoms.
but that familiarity was ancient history. the deep freeze of at least third through fifth grade meant that all exchange of word was odd, was fraught with tribulation.
in our house the thaw did not arrive in earnest until perhaps last year. and while i’m barred from saying much in this department, let us say that it is now a subject that tests my very finest tea-leaf-reading skills.
there is much, too much probably, eighth-grade group analysis of who likes who and who should ask who out. and rather than leaving the matter in the hands of the interested parties, there is the unfortunate inclination to take matters into group hands and mob the poor, dear once-interested parties to the point that all interest crumbles into ashes on the floor.
it makes for broken hearts and much head scratching. what to do. what to do. how to mend the broken fence.
i tell you the sight of a heavy-hearted manchild at the breakfast table is enough to leave you soggy in your cornflakes. no wonder i broke out in shingles.
so it was with some hope of getting a bead on the eighth-grade social whirl that i set out to be a chaperone. i hobbled home knowing little more than when i first hoisted the glowsticks.
i know that eighth-grade girls are beautiful. and the boys, so handsome in some cases you can hear the hearts acrackin’ down the road. i know the sweetest sight i saw all night was the girl who walks with braces and a walker dancing hands-to-shoulder with another girl who took the time, who had the heart, to not leave the one in braces alone, off to the side of the gym. i know that i would like to nominate the sweet heart for a nobel prize.
i found out later that i missed the slow dance. missed when one girl leapt up and twirled a boy i know onto the dance floor, only to motion to the one he used to, sorta-still-maybe likes. and she, the used-to-sorta one, shook her head no, and refused to dance.
so this morning at breakfast there just might be a heavy-hearted someone across the table from me and my soggy cornflakes. i wish i had some wisdom. but all i’ve got are glowsticks that have lost their glow.

some of you, i know, are far advanced in all of this, and i don’t mean because you yourself have suffered through. i’ve done that myself. what i mean is you have been the grownup in a house where children’s hearts are twisting, breaking. and you are left to sop up all the sorrows. or at least the ones you can. anyone got wisdom on how to chart these bumpy waters? anyone with a funny story from an 8th-grade dance? i could use a good guffaw today…….

underneath each and every gown

i am firmly a believer in this truth: every blessed soul on earth is a story, has a story, is worth sitting back and listening to. if only we all took the time. if only we all stopped all our talking, and tuned in to what some say is a dying art, the art of listening.
this might seem a funny place to begin on the morning of my firstborn’s first real graduation. but it’s not really. it’s all about all the stories that will walk across the stage, will be handed a diploma.
it is even, it is especially, about the stories of those who won’t be walking, the ones who didn’t even make it to the eighth grade. one blessed girl in particular. it is impossible for me to live this day and not think of another mother who must be aching, rocking, holding herself against the pain, because all around her eighth-grade kids are blithely slipping on their gowns, and her eighth-grader is no longer, is buried not too many miles from the graduation stage.
forgive me. days like today are days for remembering. and i cannot forget.
there is one boy’s story i know well today. i have, these past few days, been reliving every frame. today, more so. more than in a long, long time.
and while his is the story that i unspool, that i pore over frame-by-frame, i merely make the point that each graduation gown is draping someone’s story. underneath the yards of shiny polyester there is hope and heartache, there is triumph and defeat.
i only make the point because to understand the pomp and circumstance you really need to tune out the hoots and hollers, you need to telescope the lens and try to contemplate the wrinkles and the heart beat pounding there beneath the folds of cloth.
maybe it’s why i am often misty-eyed. maybe it’s why they call me sappy mama. i am always considering the unspoken, i am always imagining the story that’s not told. i am always divining the universal in the particular, and the other way around as well.
and so, when i see the streams of blue-gowned eighth-graders pouring in the auditorium i will know that each and every one has a story worth listening to, worth telling.
i will know that once upon a time a woman standing, perhaps, in a bathroom, saw a pink stripe appear on a little plastic disc. the mama knew, right then, that she was on her way to having a baby who, if she’d done the math she would have known, would be in the eighth-grade class of ‘007.
i will know, too, that she, like me, felt overwhelmed in those early days. like the first morning the papa went to work and the baby in the baby seat just squawked, while the mama tried to figure how in the world to shovel in the cereal—in her own mouth—fast enough.
i will know that somewhere around kindergarten there might have been a kid who hung off to the edge of the playground, who climbed to the roof of a little playhouse, kept an eye on the proceedings, tried to figure out how he’d ease into the world where everyone else already seemed so adept at playing games he didn’t know.
i will know that someone else might have once spent a whole semester being the new kid, once again trying to figure out the rules of a whole new world where playing baseball and soccer seemed to really matter. only he was more interested in al gore, losing the election.
i will know that there were late nights in kitchens where there were lots of tears. where a kid who sat alone at lunch came home crushed.
i will know that another mother ached. that she lay awake and tossed and turned, trying to figure out a way to lift the load, to show the kid the light at the end of the long tunnel, to make him understand that this middle school drama was really hell but some day he would be a grown up who owned the world. because he knew the stuff, already, that really mattered.
i will know that somewhere along the line, there came a wind from the holy blessed south, a warm wind, a divine wind, and it blew right up to and touched the small of some kid’s back. suddenly, he raised his wings, and he was soaring. he spoke out and kids around him started to listen, started to understand that he was no non-essential person.
he was funny, he was smart, but most of all he stood up and named injustice where he saw it. pounded out a note to the principal. named names, signed his own. didn’t flinch. would not stand and watch a kid get taunted. not any kid, not even ones he didn’t particularly like.
after all, he’d been watching, studying injustice for a long, long time. since the roof in kindergarten at least.
and in the end, at least as far as this story so far goes, he was the kid they voted most likely to be the president. he showed me just last night in the yearbook. underneath the note from the principal thanking him for being a kid who taught him so very much.
i will think of all those stories as the kids come streaming in. and i’ll, once again, be the mama crying. the mama lifting her every blessed breath to the God who long ago turned the blue stripe pink and landed that precious gift of life into her very heart. where it will reign forever.

as well as stories, i believe in prayers. on this morning of the end of grammar school, i whisper mighty prayers to all the teachers who got my firstborn here: the kindergarten p.e. teacher who taught life lessons with every game of mouse-and-cheese; to the first-and-second-grade teacher who taught him all about the monarchs and gave him spotted wings to fly; to the third-grade teacher who kept him safe and unafraid on 9-11; to the fourth-grade teacher who lit the burning light under u.s. history and made it achingly hard to leave the laboratory school; to the fourth-grade teacher who welcomed him with open arms, who opened up the classroom over christmas break and brought in a friend so the first real day wouldn’t be so very hard; to the fifth-grade teacher who made him laugh; the sixth-grade counselor who got us through the year, promised light was coming and it came; the seventh-grade team who cranked up all the gas, delighted in the kid who found his voice and the power of his intellect, then sat back and let him roll; the eighth-grade reading and science and math teachers, and the drama teacher too, and the retiring social studies teacher who was there at woodstock, had friends in the sds, and planted a few radical ideas along the way. to each and all and beyond. i thank God for the power of your vision, the unspeakable gifts you bring to every classroom, and the love of learning you infused into one very thirsty sponge. bless you.

and, now, chair friends, your graduation stories…..do you still remember extraordinary grade-school teachers who got you to where you are? do you relish the untold story, the story you know dwells in someone’s heart, even though you’ve never heard the words? do you too sit back and feel the sweep of so many stories swirling in a room, try to catch a flutter of every one, just because it’s always true that we are all of one?

p.s. about the photo: it is a giddy thing, some times, to be a blogging mama with a camera. you can turn up the sap and no one’s there to stop you. thus, i cracked open the save-forever box and hauled out the baby shoes, the first overalls and the first backpack my little schoolboy ever wore. laid out on his size XXXXXXXXX blue graduation gown, it tells a story all its own. bless you for indulging me. bless him, when he sees what his mama done….

admission cards

it is, from my seat off in the bleachers, a game of which i am solely an observer. what’s on the field, what i’m taking in, is an extraordinary rite, a passage, an entwining of father and son.
and you get in, you join the club, with a single 3.5 x 2.5 cardboard card that often smells of bubblegum.
or at least they did, back in the 1960s, which is where this story and this club begins.
back then, in a little town along the jersey shore, a long-legged skinny boy somehow got his hands on his very first baseball card. i imagine him pedaling to the five-and-dime. can see his little hand sliding across the counter. ponying up the change, in buffalo nickels and maybe a dime. sitting on the curb, tearing off the wrapper, breaking into the smile that i love, that i married. a boy does that, breaks ear-to-ear in grin, when he gets a card he’s pined for.
i know. i’ve been watching. we are living deja-vu all over again over here. if we were a radio station we’d be all-baseball, all-the-time.
like a light switch, it just flicked on one almost-bedtime ‘bout a week or two ago. the little one was in the big one’s bedroom, when he spied the big fat binders on the shelf.
somehow, the little boy and a big fat binder got together on the floor, and as he flipped the see-through plastic pages, the ones with all the little slits for the baseball cards to line up, at full attention, i saw a light go on in his little boy eyes.
i believe i saw the turning on of the gene that, for a few short years, lives for baseball cards.
i’ve seen it once before. i can only imagine its beginning. because the boy who started all the collecting, the boy whose parents just five or six years ago climbed the steep attic ladder, unearthed the banged-up rusty red tin, the tin filled to brimming with a couple decades of the best that baseball offered, and a smattering of football, and somehow elvis too, was far away from where i was a little girl with four brothers and a father who i don’t remember being so over-the-outfield-wall for packs of cards with bubblegum wedged inside.
but in new jersey, in the white house that was once the gardener’s cottage on some grand estate, there was the little boy up in his room, ordering and re-ordering his every blessed card.
each one spoke to him. the guy in batting pose on the front. all those teeny-tiny numbers on the back. the little biographical notes, like the one that mentioned, on a football card he still could show you, that ben davidson, a defensive lineman for the oakland raiders, worked construction in the summer.
“they’re cultural artifacts,” he told me just the other day, driving down the highway in the midst of a reverie on what the cards are all about. “no one in the NFL is working construction in the summers any more.”
it’s been getting awful thick in baseball cards around here of late. the little one has his stash of 31 cards. hauls them to the kitchen table, tucks them right beside the cereal bowl, making certain not to splash. has stood outside the comic book store with a sweaty dollar bill in his fist, waiting for the man to unlock the door so he, like his papa long ago, could slide the money across the counter and get a fresh pack in return.
the two of them, father and son, suddenly talk baseball all the time. they shuffle through the cards. they read books about the cards. they watch the game, the two of them lined up like hotdogs on the rug, beneath a blanket, their curly heads sharing a single pillow.
i’ve seen it all before. last time, it was a second through fourth grader who talked baseball all the time. who collected upwards of 3,000 cards, including the old red tin hauled down from his daddy’s attic. who lived and breathed for the trade. who got to know a guy named bob whose belly jiggled as he eased behind the counter, at some far-flung card shop where father and son made frequent pilgrimages.
it is a rite that once again needed some explaining, so i took notes while the original collector steered down the highway.
“first of all there’s the suspense of who’s in your pack,” he told me, just warming up. “and the bubblegum. in the old days, the bubblegum was right next to the cards. the cards even smelled of it. they were called bubblegum cards.”
he talked a bit about the bubblegum, how it’s back now, after a hiatus that left the packs stark naked, the cards without the gum. but now, he tells me, the pink slab of sweetness is wrapped in cellophane and sugarless besides. how emblematic of these times.
“baseball is a game of numbers and statistics. the back of the cards…”
“tell you how many home runs or strikeouts or hits,” chimed in the little one, from his back seat booster, easily completing his daddy’s thought.
“the other thing, the really big thing,” said the one with hands on wheel, “is baseball is a game of memories. and the cards are part of the layer of memories.
“they’re touchstones to things that happened when you were a kid, a teenager, in your 20s, your 40s. they evoke all these memories. cards are fragments of moments in time.
“all those things are wrapped up in a little piece of cardboard that’s two inches by three inches long. it packs a lot of memory.” he drove without saying much for a minute or two. then he started in again.
“it’s also part of a chain. passed down from one generation to the other. my collection started, i don’t even know. my oldest card is from 1950. i was born in 1957. one of my cards is johnny ‘red’ kerr, who’s one of the announcers for the bulls. it’s a card from when he played for the syracuse nationals. that’s like ancient history in the NBA.
“it’s called memorabilia for a reason.”
he talked about how cards teach trading skills and the value of something. mentioned that of all the voice messages saved at work, including one from 9-11, he’s still got the one of the now-8th-grader who called long, long ago to tell him his best friends matt and charlie had finally given up the shawn green card, his baseball hero because he was jewish and in the big leagues, where at the time, he hoped to land.
that told me plenty. that of all the snippets of all the years, one of the ones worth keeping always, was the voice of his young son, triumphant, having scored big in the game of baseball cards.
it is a game, it is a club, for which i am happy to be a front-row fan. even if i don’t yet have a card to let me in.

boys, your baseball stories? your trading tales? girls, what are the games in your house for which you watch but do not play? is there any such collecting that a mother and a daughter are wont to do? i haven’t got a little girl, so i am off the mound in that department.

monster fighter

the little one plays a never-ending game of dot-to-dot all day long. he changes socks, he drops them. he yanks off his shorts, he leaves them puddled on the rug. you could trace his every move, his every change of clothes and plaything, walking room to room, plucking from the floor, where he has deposited all the evidence.

we are trying to change that. we are in week three of pick-up therapy.

thus, when i wandered in his room the other night, en route to his least desired destination–bed–i was a.) not so surprised to see the detritus of a busy day strewn around the rug, and b.) insistent that it return to whence it came, the basement.

he truly is a good little boy, but this night my pointing down the stairs was met with unblinking resistance.

“it’s for fighting monsters,” he informed. “i’m wearing it to bed.”

it seems that while i was wiping out the sink one last time for the evening, tucking ice cream spoons away, he was carefully, premeditatedly, scouring the basement for the very tools i had thought were mere droppings from the day.

he had climbed up stairs with hockey stick and batting helmet, swimming goggles, and, of course, his trusty saber. the one that glows and makes a throaty roar. more like a gargle, really, but don’t tell that to a 5-year-old monster warrior.

and so, after brushing all those teeny-tiny baby teeth, not a one of which is even wiggly, he pulled off the ordinary clothes of ordinary mortal, and, like superman inside the phone booth, became the monster fighter boy.

the goggles went on first. “monsters poke your eyes out,” he once again informed, matter-of-factly, as if he’d been reading monster manuals and i had not.

step two, according to those manuals, i suppose, the batting helmet. backwards, apparently. giving the monster warrior a darth vader sort of style. perhaps he’d been preening before the mirror, trying it front and back. or perhaps these things just happen. perhaps little boys just know. what it takes to trounce a scary thing in bed.

the light saber, curiously, wisely, was tucked on the elastic waist of the undies he’d decided gave him maximum monster-battling maneuverability.

and then, the hockey stick. this, oddly (as if all the rest wasn’t odd enough), he threaded through the undies, on a fierce diagonal, wholly crossing his little body. he slid one end, the end that doesn’t slap the puck, down behind the waist band on the left, poked it out the leg hole on his right. hmm.

somehow, carefully, i assure you–boys, again, know instinctively to be careful of these parts–he climbed abed.

and there he lay, armed and very ready for whatever purple hairy, green-fanged thing dared to come across his threshold.

so fierce he was, lying there, eyes like frog, head in turtle shell, sticks at the criss-crossed ready, any monster who came his way would simply have to be a fool.

this monster gear has been a part of bedtime for the whole last week. every night there is the slightest tweak in the armament. the helmet and the sticks, though: indispensable.

it didn’t take me long to connect the dots, to draw the line, between monster fighting nights and end of kindergarten days.

aha, i said, as i played assistant to the ever-delicate ascent to bed, a climb that could, with just a single sorry twist, impair his future. if you catch my drift.

of course i said in passing what i always say of monsters: they aren’t real, sweetheart. they are pretend. monsters live in books, and on the tv screen.

i said it sort of like a band-aid. sort of in the way a doctor used to say, take an aspirin, call me in the morning.

i did not press the point because surely there is something he thinks he needs to fight. and i’ll always honor that. honor the existence of whatever unnamed hairy monster lurks inside his head.

if only you and i could so simply fight our demons. if only sliding on a hard-shelled helmet, squeezing on the safety goggles could shield us from our fears.

i am thinking that the end of school is feeling a bit like walking off a cliff, or into a big dark cave. it is a darkness, an unknown, that we step into every day. but we aren’t 5. so we hide our safety goggles. keep the helmet under our hat.

when you’re 5, though, you hide little. you strut your safety gear. it’s just the monster outlines that remain a little fuzzy.

in fact, my monster fighter is not saying much about these monsters. he is keeping the enemy rather under wraps, close to the vest. a good monster warrior is like that. he can’t disclose too much about the enemy.

all we know is that the enemy is there. and the monster warrior is armed and ready. and being very brave. he’ll not slip blindly into the night. he is safe, i know and he knows, behind his sword and goggles.

whatever is the danger. whatever is the bother, he quite foxily figured out a plot to keep the upper hand.

i’ll not take that away. i will assist in any way the growing monster fighter who is figuring out a way to take on the evils of the world.

but i will, for now, always tiptoe back to make sure the little goggles are not squeezing his little sleeping eyeballs.

once again, i stand back and marvel at the growing human mind. little people’s ways are uncanny. have you a tale to tell of a little person who took on the shadows, armed in no uncertain terms? how did you learn to fend for yourself from what might be lurking ’round a corner? or are you, like me, still thick in the middle of the learning. and eager to try on the nearest batting helmet?