Home from school, Ty pulled me into his room, dove his hand inside a pocket and proudly held out 2 feet of paperwhite yarn. “I found it on the playground,” he boasted. Then he disappeared into the office and emerged with tape, a firmly planted “mouse tail” displayed above his rear.
I may have died. This kid’s creativity inspires me by the hour.
Arriving at Trader’s, I could tell he was a bit nervous about how the general public would respond to his “mouse tail” but wouldn’t you know it, the lady at the demo counter (and my new BFF) told him she thought it was the coolest thing, drawing his confidence out until he released the string and proudly let the tail follow. It trailed naturally up and down the aisles drawing looks and snickers from shoppers, while we threw all things pumpkin into two kid carts.
An older, Hawaiian shirt donned gentleman, smiled and commented about how much energy it takes to raise two boys. We winked and shared a thousand stories with an understanding smile. I was tempted to invite him over for pumpkin bread and sword fights.
As little “mouse,” his older brother and I left the store and walked toward our car, I heard a strong voice, “Oh, I miss those days.” Turning, we saw the sweet man.
“That’s what I hear,” I agreed. “I’m trying to soak up every minute with these boys.” Now outside, I recognizeda a plump grin and years of sun memories etched into the lines on his face.
He went on to tell me that he became a first-time father at 42 and his boys, now grown, are 45 and 47. “They went to the public schools in this area,” he swung his pointer finger in a circle. “One of them is a lawyer and the other a teacher.”
Mouse and brother scurried into the car and we adults carried on, while simultaneously unloading bags into trunks.
“I’m sure it had more to do with your parenting than anything else,” I said, then looked up to see that he’d disappeared to the driver’s side, two cars down.
His head poked out. “You know, it has more to do with parenting.” My heart warmed. He hadn’t heard me tell him the same.
And then he said this, and my eyes sting as I write. Such simple honest truth from a stranger at the store. “Parenting is really just being there for them. When it’s good. When it’s bad. When it’s sticky. Being there is what it’s about.”
I wanted to hug him and jump up and down and cry all at once. Our trunk’s jaws tired and boys cheered, “Come on mom, let’s go.”
The gentleman in the Hawaiian button-down climbed into his car, backed up, then paused behind ours. Rolling down the window, sunlight cupped his cheeks. “And don’t,” he sang, “don’t forget the muuuuuusic.”
Pretty sure as he drove away, I saw the outline of angel wings.