I was in Wal Mart today buying items ranging on a scale from highly necessary to debatable importance. On the debatable end of the scale were new pillows--big fluffy ones. I am remarkably excited about this--we haven't had new ones in years and years. For months now, Gary and I have been waking up with sore necks and shoulders (sometimes lasting all day). Enough was enough. Short paychecks or not--I have only just recently concluded that a good night's sleep is not a luxury, and neither is being pain-free.
The other debatable items were four chocolate bunnies. On clearance, naturally. Easter came at the end of the paycheck this year and at three and four dollars a piece I just couldn't afford them. On Sunday morning, I placed a central easter basket by the coffee pot and put a couple of bags of chocolate eggs inside with a note from Gary and I in it. The boys were delighted by the rare treat and snacked on them all day. Even so, it's bugged me a little that they didn't get those chocolate bunnies--we don't buy candy around here except at Easter so this is kind of a looked for pleasure. So when I spotted them today--down to a 1/3 of the original price, I couldn't resist.
I was headed across the store to buy bread when I spotted a young mother and three children-two boys and one girl. The boys looked to be six or seven. The little girl, who was about four, was in the cart, bent over three tiny teddy bears, carefully covering them up with a pink doll's blanket, explaining to her mother that they needed their sleep. The mother was leaned on the handle, waiting for her to situate her "babies" and sit down again.
I had paused and was smiling.
The mother caught me looking and felt the need to explain. "It's easier than fighting her."
"I mean. It's just a hat right?"
I had not noticed the pink striped wool cap pulled down over the little girl's head. It April and 60 degrees here.
I assured her that I was more interested in the good care her daughter takes of her "babies" than in what she was wearing. In my mind, the hat was a non issue. Why? Because when Sam was that age, he wore a knit hat too--for the same reason. He liked it and whether it made any sense or not was unimportant.
The mother just beamed and echoed my appreciation of her daughter's maternal instinct.
I wanted to tell her that moments like this were golden and to frame them in her mind because they pass so fast, but I resisted the urge. This time. Instead I went on with my shopping and came home.
I found a moment to hand every boy his own chocolate bunny individually and to tell him, "I ran into the Easter Bunny at Wal Mart. He said to tell you that he still loves you."
The face of every single one softened for an instant as they looked from the gift to me and back, and I received various appreciative responses on the Easter Bunny's behalf. I have framed those expressions in my memory because they are the "I love you too"s of boyhood. I have learned to look for those; as boys grow older, expressing affection to their mother openly is harder. I know they love me and eventually they will learn to voice it again. For now I will settle for moments like that.
As I left the room, Joe and Sam's bunnies were having a silly conversation. I'm sure it ended in both of them getting eaten. It wasn't a cute little girl being a good mommy to her teddy bears, but was every bit as golden.