|At Sliding Rock near Brevard, NC|
The other day, I looked at the shaggy, sheepdog-headed Hank and said, "Do you want to get a haircut today?"
"No," he said.
"Well when do you want to?"
"The last day," he said.
"The last day of what?" I asked.
"The Last Day," he said.
Oh. Well, I am not dumb, I know that when the actual Last Day comes, it's going to be tough to get anything done, right? You show up somewhere and people are like, you just had to wait until the Last Day? Also, as a facebook friend pointed out, currency will be worthless on the Last Day. So I waited until the Last Day I could stand his hair, which was Sunday, and then we got it cut and it was fine. Turns out it didn't steal his essence or whatever the hecks. And then I got him a double cheeseburger.
This afternoon, Hank came in from the school bus and brought his buddy in to play. Before they ran off, he came through the kitchen and said, "Mom, I wanted to say thank you for all the work you do for us around the house."
I said, "You are very welcome, bud. I love taking care of you." He nodded, like this answer did not surprise him. I wanted so badly to ask him, "Who or what put it into your head to say thanks to me?!?" But I did not want to invalidate or dishonor his impulse, you know? I wouldn't have asked another adult where he got the idea to say something nice. I wanted to give him full credit. So I did and I do.
Just now, at bedtime, I lay down in his bed for a minute and we had our hugging ritual. The ritual is called Hugging Time, and we hug while we sing "hugging time" to the tune of "Stepping Time" from Mary Poppins. I don't know, it's our thing. We sing one chorus that way and then he turns over and goes to sleep.
But tonight, after hugging, he said, with a sudden note of distress, "Mom, I'm afraid to go to school tomorrow. I did something really bad!"
Whoa. I didn't think it could be anything really bad, or I would have heard about it at least three ways before bedtime. But I said, "Well what was it?" He wouldn't tell me. He goes, "It's embarrassing! And I did it in front of fifth graders!" Okay, so then I'm like, did you fall down or something? And I'm imagining some farcical scene of slapstick mortification. But then he came out with it.
"I accidentally said who I have a crush on in front of the fifth graders! On the bus!"
"Okay," I said. "Well let me tell you a secret. Fifth graders are not interested in first graders or first grade things. They are only interested in fifth graders. They will not remember."
"How do you know?" he asked. "Because," I said, "I remember being a fifth grader and that's exactly how I felt."
"But," he probed further, skeptical. "When you were in fifth grade, did you ever hear any really good first-grade information?"
Like, this is premium intel, Mom. Really good first-grade information. Nobody could fail to take an interest in a tidbit of this significance.
So I said I would drive him to school in the morning.