Sunday, November 08, 2009

I Want You to Go Get a Peanut

Seriously. Have any peanuts in the house? Salted, Boiled, Spanish, it really matters not. If you have any go get one. Get a few so you can eat some while we talk. I'll wait.

Ok, if you followed instructions and got the peanut(s) (or even if you have no peanuts) I want to ask you a question. Did you know that Santa Claus hides inside peanuts? I do because my mom told me. Even better than telling me was the fact that she showed me. Open a peanut. Gently. Pry the two halves apart and have a peek inside. Do you see him? His tiny little face and beard and hat? Etched in nutmeat in greater detail than any sober person could possibly manage in those dimensions is Santa. If you are a person who has no peanuts available at the moment I will show him to you myself.

Ta Da.

My friend Coyote and I were talking one night about how it's the small moments that matter to kids more than the overblown gestures. I, for one, have always felt that it was more important to have a great Mommy and Daddy than Mother and Father. I had both. My parents were very good at the serious business of parenting, but what stays in my heart and fills it to bursting are those magical moments they gave me. I believe wholly that childhood should be a time of magic, and not simply in the Trips to Orlando kind of way. The serious business of parenting, the rules, the protection, actually parenting instead of chickening out and trying to be best buds is very necessary. If done correctly, those things do a slow burn in a child's character. The tiny little things, however, are those that will be pulled front and center to a child's brain when a parent leaves this world.

My mother was the first person to really show me an example of physics, which is mildly amusing since she failed physics. I do not remember a specific day, or what month it was, or what I was wearing. I do remember, though, my mom pointing to the maples in front of the house and saying, "Look! They're tiny helicopters!" I ran down the steps and looked up at hundreds of tiny maple seed pods fluttering to the ground, spinning as they came. The wind calmed, and my mom came down the steps as well, picked some up in her hands, and tossed them in the air to fall again. My toddler disappointment evaporated, and I joined in. I watched the tiny pods spin in their circles to the ground over and over again, and when my attention began to drift my mother took me over to the neighbor's maple, which was a different type. She picked one of the larger, green pods it held and used her thumbnail to slit the base. She spread the base open and applied it to my nose and told me I was Pinocchio.

My dad was actually pretty good at that whole "pulling a penny from your ear" thing, and it tickled me to no end whenever he did it. In fact, when I became pregnant with Livvie I informed Rich that he was going to have to learn how to do that correctly. It's a Dad Thing. I haven't known many moms that can pull it off, but almost everyone I know remembers their dad doing it. My dad was a gift giver. He was one of those dudes that would stop and pick up flowers for no reason, and he always remembered birthdays and anniversaries. After he moved out his gifts to me became more grandiose, and I have a sick feeling he was trying to maintain my affection for him by buying it. To his credit, he was a fabulous trash picker, and he would snag me some truly fabulous things that way. His gifts to me, in more ways than one, included a telescope he plucked from the side of the road and a microscope he bought for my 8th birthday. One of his best gifts to me ever, though, was a broken prism. It had a small chunk missing from one corner, and he brought it to me and showed me that you can hold rainbows in your hands. Livvie is absolutely enraptured with rainbows right now, and although her Christmas will be small this year, at least on her parents' part, there will be a prism in her stocking. I can get a bag of them for $8.95. So can you. Go Here. They were local folks in Barrington, NJ for ages, and they gave my uncle his first decent job as a teenager.

I received a bit of magic as an adult to pass on to my kids as well. Coyote, mentioned earlier, and I were outside one night when the moon was low and large. She bounced on her toes once and yelled, "Bunny on the moon!" I turned to her with the eyebrow up and she pointed and asked me if I hadn't heard about the bunny on the moon. I told her I certainly hadn't, and I turned my head this way and that for a few seconds, and then I saw it. The trick is to get past seeing the Man in the Moon. Erase it from your head. Widen your vision a bit and there's the bunny. Do you see it? I squealed like a girl and she told me a version of this story:

(From Wikipedia)

In the Buddhist story "Śaśajâtaka", a monkey, an otter, a jackal, and a rabbit resolved to practice charity on the Uposatha, believing a demonstration of great virtue would earn a great reward.
When an old man begged for food, the monkey gathered fruits from the trees and the otter collected dead fish from the river bank, while the jackal wrongfully pilfered a lizard and a pot of milk-curd. The rabbit, who knew only how to gather grass, instead offered its own body, throwing itself into a fire the man had built. The rabbit, however, was not burnt. The old man revealed himself to be Śakra, and touched by the rabbit's virtue, drew the likeness of the rabbit on the moon for all to see. It is said the lunar image is still draped in the smoke that rose when the rabbit cast itself into the fire.
 I never see the Man in the full moon anymore. I only see the bunny. I think I like that very much.

I'm discovering magic along my journey with these kids as well. I am absolutely not the best mother to walk this planet. Oftentimes I downright suck. I'm trying as hard as I can, though, to be a good Mommy. Livvie cannot sleep without the light in her fish's small tank on to chase the dark. I feel bad for the fish, because I assume he gets no sleep and is about to go berserk at any moment. The other night after I got Livvie tucked in I went to her dresser and pushed the button on the back of the tank. Nothing happened. The last time his bulb burned out she woke up hysterical off and on all night, so I told her I'd be right back and went to look for a new bulb. I thought I had purchased a two pack, but I was mistaken. I was poking around in the cabinet where we store bulbs, and I saw a small box of white Christmas tree lights. I think it's a strand of thirty. I grabbed the box, ripped it open, and tore that annoying little baggie full of spares off of the strand. I went to her room and told her we had no more fish bulbs, and that she'd have to make do with these. I draped them across the windowsill and plugged them in. She sat up and said, "It's beautiful!! It's rainbows and unicorns!!"

Ta Da.

We're going to be installing one of these in Livvie's new bedroom before she moves in. It's a fairy door that a friend of mine sent to her. It's about 12 inches tall, and it's going to go on a wall near a small cypress tree decorated with white "fairy lights" in a corner. When we move her to her new room the fairies will have already moved in ahead of time. Hopefully it will distract her to some extent, as the last time we went to the house she asked to "go home" after awhile.

If nothing else it'll be a little bit more magic in my own world.


John Colton said...

reading this made me feel like I wanted to be a little kid all over again. It's thinking like that that tells me you're already an amazing mom who's surpassed all levels of greatness. No one day will always be perfect, but you're doing your absolute best. God bless you, Summerkins, and your wonderful family! May it always be magical!

squirrelgirl said...

I think the fairies are a wonderfully stupendous idea. I hope Livvie likes it as much as I do.

Cyn said...

At Christmas time every year mom would pull out the decorations and hang up the ugliest elf and hang it from the ceiling. I do not know why. Someone gave it to her. It was maybe 8" tall and cheaply made. Kind of scary actually in a clown sort of way.

My parents were not big into imagination type games. They did encourage me to read though so that is worth something. They also encouraged my love of animals, real and stuffed (toys). Oh yes and Twinkies.