Sunday, June 13, 2010

Growing Up....But....Hold On There.....Not Too Fast.....

I'm fed up.

Every night at bedtime I go into the room Boy and Missy share. I fold clothes, toss toys into baskets, shove baskets under beds, and pick up two dozen or so stuffed animals off the floor and throw them back in their place at the end of  Boy's bed.

Daniel's menagerie.  A once treasured collection.  Currently at least twice the size it was when I first wrote about it, lo' these many years ago.

Every night I pick 'em up.  Every night he kicks them back on the floor.

Tonight I'd had enough.

"ENOUGH!" I say, "Is it time we got rid of the animals, Daniel?  I'm sick of picking them up!"

"Yeah," he mutters.

"Yeah, what?  You want me to get rid of them?"

"Yeah."

"Fine.  Good."  I give one last tug on the sleeve I've been wrestling, before I toss the half-folded shirt unceremoniously into the closet.  I can't fault my children for their clutter too harshly because I am no Neat Nelly myself.  But, there are limits.

"Get rid of them......where?" he wonders.

"Throw them away where I never have to pick them up ever again.  Ever."  I pull a shin guard out from under a pile of books.  This too is thrown carelessly into the closet.  Somewhere on the second shelf if my aim is true.  Which it is...at least half the time...

"Okay," he commits sullenly.

"Seriously.  You're seriously okay with me throwing them away?  Are you sure?"

"Yeah.  Do it.  Take Bobby too."

Say wa'?

There's too much bravado in his voice.  I pause in my search for a mate to the filthy Ben10 sock I've just fished out of an empty Playdough can, to give him a level don't-fuck-with-me kind of look.

"You want me to get rid of Bobby too?"

"I'm almost eight!  Don't you think I'm too old for a Bobby?"

"No.  I really don't.  I'm just sick of picking up these stuffed animals off the floor. I never said anything about Bobby."

"I'm too old for cuddly animals.  And Bobby too.  Take 'em."

Stubborn ass.

"Fine," I say through gritted teeth.

I sweep grandly out of the room, and return half a minute later with a large, plastic garbage bag into which I immediately start chucking the rejected toys.  I feel sharp pangs of regret as I do it.  Snowball, the gorgeously soft racoon that Grandma Gae had to special order.  Snakey, from Disneyland last summer.  Tucker, his Build-a-Bear dog for Christ's sake!  I don't really want to throw all this stuff away!  Stop me you idiot child!  Stop me now!

But he doesn't. He helps. He drags a small, plush Wall-E, and an ugly purple and blue scorpion out from the far side of his bed, and throws them at me.  It takes a second to feed the last animal--a long, green IKEA dragon--into the now full bag, but when I'm done, I look at him, and hold it out to him with a 'well? what's it gonna be?' arch of my eyebrow.

Bobby, tucked safely under his pillow, is the only soft, cuddly remnant of his babyhood left.  He quickly grabs it, shoves it in the bag, then backs himself into the far corner of his bed.  He pulls first his pillow, then his comforter over his chest.  His eyes are wide. Wild. He licks his lips. They look pale and dry.  I know he deeply, intensely, insanely regrets what he's done.  But he won't look at me.  And I won't help him out of this hole he's dug for himself.  I'm just that mean.

I linger with the bag in my hands a few moments more.  When he doesn't make a move for it, I drag it out into the hallway, and busy myself with cleaning up Missy's side of the room.

I don't know how long it takes.  Not long.  A minute?  Maybe two?  Amanda is babbling about something or other. I'm not really listening because my mind is full to bursting with the little farce Daniel and I have just acted out.  I know he'll cave.  He has to cave.  Bobby is his fucking soul mate.  His missing twin. 

He'll cave.  I just hope he gets on with it before it's time to turn out the lights.

It starts with a mumble. 

"IwantBobbyIwantBobbyIwantBobbyIwantBobby...."

All soft and breathy like, but I can hear it.  Abruptly, the mumble stops.  He's quiet for a few, steely seconds, then he looks me right in the eye and says, "Mom.  I want Bobby."

Well all right then.

I found his Bobby.  I tucked him in.  Kissed him hard on the forehead, and told him he wasn't even close to too old for Bobby.  And that he never, ever had to pretend to be again.  Then I came into the kitchen and poured myself a very large glass of wine.

A little while ago, about 20 minutes after I'd said my last good-night, I heard the door to their bedroom open, followed by a very distinctive rustling in a certain plastic garbage bag still sitting in the hallway right outside their door.  I haven't checked to see which of the animals he called back from exile, but I hope Snowball and Tucker made the cut.


Not even close to too old.

9 comments:

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Alpha Grandma said...

This made me cry real tears! That stubborn bravado he uses as a weapon has a soft underbelly, doesn't it? I love that kid!

Corinne said...

What beautiful writing, JEDA, you had this old grouch tearing up. Confession time? I'm nearly 30, and the red baby blanket my mother sewed for me has traveled around the world with me, always tucked away neatly somewhere just 'cause. Never too old is right.

Nita said...

Okay, I'm sitting here at work with tears in my eye's, I'm glad he kept Bobby

la dragon said...

Made me cry real tears too. The photo at the end is what put me over the edge. Love that Boy.

(Remember me, your crap-ass MIA friend? I'm still here. Still thinking about you, still sending love n' kisses from this side of the pond. I'll drag myself out of the muck and catch up with you soon... 'kay?)

tracy said...

Okay, that was SO emotionally sweet!

Zoe's attachment to her collection of stuffed "friends" and current stuff is so unwavering that it is hard to even have her part with a sticker or a cheap toy. Everything is like gold to her, so I know when she does begin that "toss era", it will be emotional as well. At our garage sale, I was way impressed at her little sale table of small toys, etc. that she hand picked to sell as she actually really enjoyed seeing the faces of the kids who would be enjoying her things, and she enjoys donating and sending stuff to Galagala. The most precious will stay safely packed away for her, though, as I can't bear to part with some, even if she could!

Holly said...

I love the way that you write. Also glad he got his Bobby back...would you have really thrown them away? I'm in my 40s and still have boxes of stuffed animals I just can't part with..lol

Steven Crisp said...

Drive by visitor here (you know that "next blog" button), but I just wanted to say ... that is some great writing. Sucked me right into your melodrama. ;-)

Whatever you do, don't toss the stuffed animals. Bag 'em up and store them away. Just think of the memories those will rekindle in you both someday.

How do I know this? Just ask me how many stuffed animals, legos, transformers, ninja turtles, etc, etc we have up in our attic. Our kids (now grown) would divorce us if those ever hit the recycle center ;-)

Kind regards,

S-

RoboLex McFabb said...

what a cute and funny post! thoroughly entertained me that's for sure.