In the midst of all the struggle, in the depth of this dark time, I am fortunate to receive daily doses of unconditional laughter. Whether it's from a work mate who does spot on impersonations of some of the bigger personalities in our office or from my delightfully brilliant children, who all have unprecedented vocabularies combined with fully developed humor, understanding of puns (and how to use them) and even, at times, a subtle sarcasm that may not make me laugh but certainly makes me appreciate their command of the English language and the nuances of which, many will never fully master.
(This is not meant to sound like one of those frothing at the mouth Christmas letters, they do language well, that's all I'm saying for now.)
My kids know how to use words, for the most part correctly and creatively. I spend a lot of time with them spinning words and throwing out clever uses of synonyms, homonyms and antonyms as well as contrasting the differences between similes and metaphors. I realize they are 12 and 8 but truly, it's never to early to give your children what very well may be the one and only gift you, yourself have. The gift of wordsmithing (which according to spell checker, is not really a word). Maybe I should be teaching them about the meaning of the word irony instead.
My precious little minions know how I delight when they come up with an example to show me their understanding of word usage. Just a few days ago, one of the twins put her brown, furry glove on one hand and left her other hand uncovered. I watched as she proudly held them up in front of her sister, one of her 3rd grade friends and her parents. She exclaimed, "Look, at my hands. Get it? I have a bare hand and a bear hand!" Her sister and I were thrilled. The other little girl was busy watching the words fly over her head while her parents gave one of those half-smiles you get when they are obviously thinking, oh shit, I think we might need to be reading more books to her.
Tonight, as we finished our third batch of Christmas cookies and put them ever so delicately into our tree shaped cookie jar. I spun on my heels, looked them all square in the eyes, motioned them to come closer to me so they would know I was serious and said, "I need to ask you all one very important question. Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?"
I love these moments when they realize you can draw people in, make them wait in suspense, then deliver a dose of laughter to break the tension.
Finally, perhaps the best story of the week came from the younger of the twin girls (by four minutes, no less). As we were pulling out of the driveway, she asked if I had noticed her buckling her seat belt without having to be reminded. It has been one of those things that I have struggled with since gaining full custody of them. Apparently their dad and grandma let them sit in the front seat when they were too young and let them sit unbuckled in the back seat at any age. I never got much argument when we were sharing custody but in my full time care, they somehow feel they deserve such ridiculous privileges.
Can I ride in the front seat?
Because it's against the law and it's unsafe.
But dad let us do it all the time.
I'm sorry honey, I'm not willing to risk your lives, I'd rather have you alive than have you happily sitting in the front seat right up until the time we crash and you are taken from me forever. Not gonna do it. Now sit down and buckle up.
I can't believe you stopped at that yellow light mom. Dad used to run yellow/red lights all the time. One time, when we were late for church and we were with Sherry and her kids, he actually ran over a train track when the lights were flashing and the gates had closed.
Again kids, I'm sorry - that doesn't make it okay. Mommy is not willing to take those risks with you. I want you to be safe. Now sit down and buckle up!
Back to the original story, here I was with one of them telling me she has decided to buckle up on her own. And believe me when I say, this is not the child I would have expected to give up without a much longer battle. Think Braveheart. I frequently look at her and imagine her with blue paint smeared upon her delicate cheek bones. She is nothing, if not dramatic. So I intrepidly ask, "sweetie, why are you buckling up without mommy reminding you?"
Oh, that's easy she says. You know how it's Christmas time right? And at this time of year, if you were to write a story about a horrible car accident with a family inside, it would have to be the youngest child who dies, I mean right? It's Christmas so it has to be horribly tragic, it would be the youngest to be written out of the story because that has so much more meaning.
In perfect harmony, her twin sister and older brother unbuckle their seat belt and yell "Woooohooooo".
What is a mother, a writer, a proud mother-writer or writing mother supposed to say to this?
"Sit down and buckle up, all of you". As I drive away with a smile knowing my kids are already thinking in terms of what could make a good story.
Yet simultaneous fear and dread ascend, knowing they know how to tell a good story, perhaps even good enough to fool me one day.
Merry Christmas to you all and make sure your youngest children are always buckled up safe and sound, at least during the holidays.