All the parental units attached to this little person were at work yesterday. That's really saying something, since there are four of them involved in his life right now and two of them do shift work. There's usually somebody around when he bounds off the bus. But Wednesdays are proving particularly difficult this semester, what with his "early out" release and their overtime making meeting him at 1:45pm a challenge.
Sure, I'm glad to help. I know the security code to open the garage door and Amster's dining room table is a lovely spot on which to type. The dogs are in the backyard and require no attention at all. His brother didn't feel well and went to rest at work with mom. It was just the two of us. I was stoked.
Listening to Mr. 8 is like having the grade school Big Cuter back in my life all over again. Curious, serious, thoughtful and smart, there's nothing like a latency age boy to make my heart soar. And soar it did, denizens, yes, indeed, it did.
His Super Mario backpack got stuck in the doorway. He had his arms out for help, but I was laughing too hard to get up off the chair. The worker bees in the garage (installing some pipe for something that neither Mr. 8 nor I could identify) were giggling, too. Their ladder impeded the progress of the offending door and there he hung, caught between his school day and his play date. It was a moment to be treasured.
Twisting hard to the right and the left dislodged him and before another second had passed the backpack was on the table and his hand was in his pocket. "I have $3.47. Wanna see?" Of course I wanted to see. His hand revealed a carefully folded and then safely wadded roll of bills. The coins managed to stay within the confines of his palm, too. $3.47.... hardly a treasure, but all his.
It was burning a hole in his pocket. I felt his pain. Big Cuter had the same issues. If he had money he had to exchange it for something more tangible, more fun, more colorful and playful and new. After discussing and sighing over the fact that "you really can't buy very much with $3.47," we decided to go to Wally-World anyway. There had to be something he could buy. That money was taunting him from the table.
So we drove back the way I'd come, parked and walked to the very back of the store where the Leggo's live. I was thrust back in time. Big Cuter didn't have the Ninjago line of products to tempt him, but the space guys he loved were still on the shelves. Watching Mr. 8 pick up the boxes, telling me which of his friends had which pieces as he examined the pictures and shook his head over the prices, I could close my eyes and imagine my own personal little boy doing and saying the same things.
I knew just what he was feeling. Big Cuter said the same things, stood the same way, anguished just as Mr. 8 was.... really, you can't buy very much for $3.47.
No trip to the store would be complete without a trek down the video game aisle. I understood this. I didn't really get it when Big Cuter was little; what joy could be had by looking at the boxes, locked in a glass faced case, untouchable and too expensive and taunting. But, then as now, I learned to watch the signs as tension passed out of his body. I'm not sure about the magic which emanates from these things, but standing there, unable to buy them but enthralled nonetheless, his little shoulders came down out of his ears and his face unscrunched.
Yes, Jacob has the big box with the figures and the game and the story and yes, Mr. 8 would love to have it for his birthday next month, and no, he hasn't told Mom about it nor does he have any idea how she will know that he wants it. The conversation was the same as thousands my own boy and I shared in the aisles of Toys R Us. Solutions were unnecessary. I learned that lesson two decades ago. Sharing the experience was enough then and it was enough yesterday.
Boys are easy that way. At least these two were/are.
After deciding that $3.47 was a useless amount of money, we headed out the door to continue our adventure. Funtasktiks? Neither of us knew what was behind the name, but it sure did sound good, we agreed. But, on the way there we passed Fiesta Bowl and that was it. Bowling had been on his list for a while and I was just the girl to take him there.
Nope, he doesn't wear size 12 shoes anymore; more like an adult 4. Who knew? Not us. Yes, I could tie his laces for him; no, I had no idea why one lace was 15" longer than the other. No, I wouldn't be bowling but yes I would be watching. And watch I did. There were only singleton bowlers at the lanes on this cloudy Wednesday afternoon; Mr. 8 fit right in. While the other gentlemen were carefully lining up their shots, aiming between the arrows and smashing the pins to smithereens, Mr. 8 was employing a more free form approach.
Using the bumpers like a pro, his bright orange 6 pound ball caromed from side to side before taking down the pins with a mighty .... ok, a minuscule.....thwack. A spare. A picked-up split. A score of 96.
The Happy Ladies Club bowlers would be proud to include him in our ranks. His score is just like ours.
Aiming wasn't in the cards. Proper form was an unattainable concept. The finger holes sometimes caught his thumb and the ball often took its own sweet time to meander down the lane. Sometimes the pins went down, sometimes they stayed up, but his face was always the same: intent. He didn't care about technique. He just liked doing it. And so, over and over again, for 30 frames, Mr. 8 communed with the alley as I did the same with my memories.
Kids do have an annoying tendency to grow up. It's a good thing that the fun times are stored in the memory bank, retrievable whenever the moment strikes.
I can hear Big Cuter groaning over that unintended pun as I type it.