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it’s not so strange (if you’re weird when you think about it)

weird

I am cleaning house as usual. Which is to say I am wearing fuzzy pants with green frogs hopping across them and twirling the mop around to match the beat of a song I’m making up and singing for the kitchen walls to hear.  You mosey up to me in your shark pajamas, tilt onto the heels of your red cowboy boots and say “Howdy, Pampers” in an accent that got lost at Twang and ended up  a watered-down British. You make the shark on your shirt bite the frogs on my pants and I yip and yell like I imagine a bunch of dying frogs would and you laugh and laugh and laugh at all this hilarious pajama murder. I am laughing too, so loudly that I almost don’t notice when you shake your toddler head in that “Aw, shucks!” way and say “Mom, you are so weird“.

A pause. Because throughout this, your third year in the world, this comment has both delighted and destroyed me. Around a group of neighborhood kids my voice and my face and my standing perfectly still is what you call “weird”. I try crossing my arms or looking at my feet or pulling my too-short sleeves down to stop humiliating you, all the while feeling the sting of a surprise slap. When did you get 16? Are we already to the part where I’ve “ruined your life”? Should I stop breathing? But I let these occasional hurts slide because there are those many days when you tell me I’m weird with a little love-twinkle in your eye, and it is the lucky ticket. Sometimes, when you tilt your tiny chin to the side as if you’re evaluating the very best art and tell me I’m the silliest, I wait for the bouquet of roses, the shiny crown because I feel suddenly like the fairest, zaniest Miss Silly America in all the land. What I think you are old enough to know now, on the eve of your 4th birthday, is this: good weird or bad weird, you have me pegged. I am weird. And whatever I am, my lovely boy, you are, too.

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For instance, it’s a little strange your philosophies that boy squirrels don’t have wieners or that dinosaurs still roam the woods behind our house or that chocolate helps grow muscles. Quirkier still is your style… in which plaid on top of plaid with some more plaid finished off with cowboy boots makes both fashion and sense. It’s peculiar that you don’t think babies are human, using your high-pitched tone with a newborn as if you expect it to fetch or sit. It’s strange how no matter the game or race it is always only fun if you win. It is freaky how you never seem to be listening save for the one time I stub my toe and barely mumble a “shit”. It’s not right that for all the semi-wise things I’ve tried to tell you, “Shit” is the one you keep repeating. It’s bizarre how you’re not phased by the rabid, flying monkey-beasts of Oz but horrified when I mention vegetables or baths. It’s crazy how you can actually never stop growing. I expected the regular plateau, but you, man-child, are all steep hill. It’s offbeat, I suppose, that your favorite expression of affection is a drop-kick Sleeper Hold. It is odd how smart you are, truly smart. How can such a small person see and feel and understand so deeply? It is ridiculous to think that not long ago there was no you . It is weird that there was a moment ever in my whole old life that you weren’t the strange, bright spot at the heart of it.

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But for all things unusual, there are also perfect norms.

It isn’t so weird that we dance in the living room, the parking lot, the grocery store, the bank. We have the music in us, child, and we can’t be held accountable for how it looks when it comes out.

It isn’t weird that I must smell your hair any time you are near me. No dainty sniff will do. It is perfectly acceptable to snort your head until I inhale every last ounce of baby smell. Down the brain, let it drain, swish it around in my mouth like a wine snob hinting a note of dirt and bubblegum and innocence.

It isn’t weird that I’m chubby. You’ve seen me eat. Stop poking my belly squish and saying “Wow”.

It isn’t weird that I mostly stare at you with eyes stretched wide and bulging. A logical theory I created when I was five, I believe that the bigger one makes her eyes the more she’ll see. All the time with you I don’t want to not see everything.

It isn’t weird that I would chew my arm off if you wanted me to. In fact, on peaceful days like today I wonder if I shouldn’t just go ahead and start biting, take that limb clear off and have it packed on ice for the time you might need it: just in case, just in case, just in case

It isn’t weird that I don’t let you ride the dog like a small horse. Puppies have spines, too.

It isn’t weird that sometimes I get sad when we pass a stranger at the drugstore or the grocery or in traffic. Not sad for any other reason than I wish they all could know you, could have a smile like yours warm them up. How unfortunate they are, and they don’t even know it.

It isn’t weird that the moment I met you I knew we’d known each other a long time.

It isn’t weird that you have to sleep. Bedtime: I really did not make it up.

It isn’t weird that for all the time my loud mouth talks and busy hands type, I cannot find the word for how fiercely you are loved.

So Happy Birthday, weirdo. Enjoy it  in your peculiar, eats-only-icing, says- ‘Happy Birthday’- to- all- his -party- guests, wears-western-boots-with-a-sombrero kind of way. Remember there are worse things than being weird. Not being weird would be chief among them.  I love you strangely, oddly, insanely, eccentrically. But more than anything, Thomas,  I love you muchly.

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Birthday letters: ONE ::: TWO ::: THREE

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47 thoughts on “it’s not so strange (if you’re weird when you think about it)

  1. This is the most adorable letter I’ve ever read. Wow. I can sense how deeply you adore your boy 🙂 He’s very lucky! Happy birthday Thomas! 😀

    1. If ever one of his strange ideas were to be true, this one would be fabulous. I don’t much care about dinosaurs or squirrel privates, but healthy candy would make my life significantly better!

      1. Once in a while I miss the idea of a pony tail, BUT the rest of the time I am so relieved not to waste so much time primping and fussing with a bunch of hair!

    1. It has been a year of bigness. Suddenly he can brush his own teeth and button his own shirt and tell me he’s too old for bedtime. And of course there’s the literal bigness. The poor kid officially can’t fit into toddler clothes. It’s all big boy skateboard shirts from here on out!

  2. It’s weird how your voice, back in my inbox, makes me so happy -I love your writing terrifically muchly. Happy birthday to Thomas and enjoy the all the weirdness this life brings.

    1. Aw. Thanks, Deanna. It feels really good to get back to the writer side of things. Truth be told, the birthday letter was a big catalyst. I haven’t missed writing one for him yet, and the idea of skipping #4 was sad!

  3. “It is weird that there was a moment ever in my whole old life that you weren’t the strange, bright spot at the heart of it” love this so much! happy birthday Thomas!

      1. I’m so happy you’re back!!! My blog life was empty without you in it! I’m great; I made another human, abracadabra. 😉 Someday I may even sleep, who knows?!? Have a great Happy Birthday Thomas day!

  4. She’s back. Oh, she’s back.
    PS my friend’s daughter informed her that, “Mama, you are RUINING my LIFE!” at age four. I was there to witness it. Just so you’re aware. But she’s 11 now and everything seems to be fine.

    1. Oh good! Maybe he’s getting it out of his system? Maybe by the time he’s 16 he’ll want to just hang out with me and watch Lifetime movies on Friday night? Maybe I’m a little too into the wishful thinking thing?

    1. I remember a few childhood moments spent cringing when my “normal” friends witnessed my family’s weirdness. But as I’ve gotten older I can’t imagine another upbringing, another way to be. Things are always interesting!

  5. This is wonderful cue the expected the giggles and feeling of shared joy as I relieve memories from my own life. I have a five year old brother who is 17 years younger than me. Due to circumstances of illness in my family I had to help with raising him. He is the light of my life we share a bunk bed and every night he swings down Tarzan style to sleep in my bed. I loved your moment where you queried why you dance extraordinarily in ordinary and I can only say “I know”. It is a bizzare and inexplicable place these teacup humans lead us to where we cast off any learned adult like mindset and perform and live in their reality. For me the joy of seeing his wonder and making him feel he is loved despite the hardships we have gone through gives me peace and many laughs. I don’t know quite why I love him so much possibly because he has the intelligence of an adult and the snarky attitude of a tween thrown in with the curiosity and innocence of a baby. This post made me so happy and it’s so well written thank you 🙂

    1. Ned, my word. This is about the most beautiful comment I’ve ever read. There are a lot of cliché remarks adults give about children being gifts from Heaven or miracles or precious, and I used to kind of scoff at them because I looked and just saw a fleshly little baby. A pooping, crying thing. Then I had my son and I wanted to paint those cheesy clichés all over his room and share them with total strangers. Any person who can change a grown soul so, so deeply IS miraculous, IS precious, IS from something bigger than this dinky world.
      On a less profound note, I would LOVE the bunk bed thing. Sounds like a blast. My husband would feel left out, but whatever 🙂

      1. Haha thank you I like all your posts they really make me smile and I like the fact that now I understand what it’s like to love someone more than yourself 🙂 clichés are often the only apt way of describing the way our heart beats for these little people…yes get a bunk bed and tell the husband that there is a new king of the castle 🙂

  6. I’m laughing, because I love all of the weirdness. That’s what makes life beautiful and forever unexpected and it keeps us on our toys and stops us from being boring 🙂

    1. I’m finally thankful for the weirdness that seems engrained in our DNA. There were many a moment as a kid that I was mortified about the whole thing. But it is never, ever boring and always something to smile about. As a grown up that’s about as great a gift as I could ask for!

  7. Sorry it has taken me so many days to get here! Sara told me I HAD to read this post. Finally, I’m here. Thank GOD I didn’t miss it! Happy birthday to sweet, sweet Thomas !!!!!!!!!!!

    With love and hugs from Ecuador,
    Cappy

  8. This is the most beautiful, touching thing I’ve read in a very long time. I honestly wish I had written it for my boy. I feel the same way about him. Weird is a good thing. Thank you for sharing this with the world. I am crying over here because it feels like something I would have said to my son. I know a lot of it are things I’ve thought about him.
    Happy belated b-day to your weird little man.

    1. Pshhh, NEVER let ME cause YOU to second-guess parenting. I feel like my blog should come with a warning not to try any of this nonsense at home. In all truth, my boy (when it’s not ridunkulously cold) plays outside a lot only because he has the energy of a million fizzy bottles of soda. I don’t want that exploding inside my house 🙂 Better to let him run wild and loud and free outdoors!

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