At three years old, my middle son Reed is the family comedian. He is high-energy and chatty, with green eyes that shine.
Reed has always loved getting filthy.
If there is a critter to be petted or held, he’s first in line…
If there’s nothing to do, he creates his own fun.
You get the idea.
Last Monday after supper, my husband was at a meeting and Reed suggested we go out for a walk. We headed down the main street of our small town, chatting as we strolled.
“Mommy, I’m sad that Dip died,” he said.
Dip was Reed’s goldfish, affectionately named after his favorite food group: condiments. We only had him for a few days before he floated the old underbelly.
“I’m sorry you’re sad, Buddy,” I replied. “I liked Dip a whole lot too. Would you like to go to the pet store to choose another fish?”
“Nope. I’m going to choose a parrot this time. Then every time I say, ‘Can I have chocolate milk?’ he’ll say, ‘ARK! CHOCOLATE MILK! CHOCOLATE MILK!’”
(Riiiiight. Cuz what I need is one more noisy, messy creature requesting beverages.)
We approached the band shell, a few blocks down from our house, right next door to the police station. The enclosed part of the shell is still boarded off for winter, but here’s a pic from a couple summers ago:
The boys love climbing the steps onto the stage and performing while I WHOO and applaud from one of the benches in the lawn.
Miles and I parked it in the front row. Gray and Reed went up and sang-screamed something about fizzling fireworks while thigh-slap-hop-stepping in a circle. They really needed to be wearing loincloths and body paint for this performance genre.
With bear-hugging and tickle torture, I restrained Miles from licking bird dirt off the bench as we “watched.” I hollered for a few encores before the twosome got tired and demanded Miles and I take our turn.
I helped the little guy up the rickety stairs, took two steps onto the stage, and turned to see Reed in the lawn, facing the windows of the police station, pants around his ankles, jacket hiked up to his armpits, peeing a full-force stream into the wind.
“REED! Go around the corner, Buddy! Ya gotta go around the corner!”
“Too late, Mom! I’m done!” he shouted, flashing that huge, proud grin that makes it impossible to be upset with him..
Shaking my head, Miles and I shuffled to center stage and waved our arms as I bellowed the Thomas the Train theme song twice with my best creepy-British-child accent, and then we traded places again. After a few more rounds, we all took a dramatic bow for our imaginary audience and headed toward our end of town.
I stopped and chatted with my friend Sandy on the sidewalk. She was mid-sentence about my sister’s cute son when she shrieked “Oh, Honey, don’t pick THAT up!” I turned and saw Reed on his knees clutching a sizeable dog turd in his gloved hand.
“GAH! Drop it! That’s not mud! Drop it!” I shouted, running at him. I swear he squeezed it one last time before slowly returning it to the boulevard. I looked at his glove, then down at the turd. At least it was well-aged feces—the whitish variety that doesn’t leave behind much residue. I helped him brush off his glove on the concrete, and we continued on.
Our town was established in 1891, and the boys enjoy examining the details of the various building facades. Reed stopped and stared at an embellishment.
I could hear the gears cranking in his round little head.
“Hey Mom– is that a nose sticking through there, or a weiner?”
“I’m not sure, Reed. We’ll have to go inside tomorrow during business hours to see who’s standing behind the wall.”
Just then, my husband drove by on his way home from the meeting, honking wildly with a bug-eyed, toothy smile. Gray complained that Daddy didn’t even pick us up, and I pretended not to agree.
We ogled the mannequins in the thrift store window– some wild-haired, some headless. Miles looked puzzled. Reed looked concerned. Gray looked cold.
Just as we started walking again and I prepared for my routine no-shimmying-up-the-Virgin-Mary-statue lecture, my husband came walking out of our alley. “DADDY!” the three shouted in unison. Riley wagged. I exhaled in relief.
Suddenly, all three boys desparately needed to be carried the last two blocks home. I told Chad to put Miles on my back and he could take Reed.
“What about me?” asked Gray, the sixty-pound five-year-old.
“You’ll have to ride Riley,” I replied.
As we rounded the home stretch into our alley, I shouted back to Chad, “Honey, we’ve gotta remember to throw Reed’s gloves in the wash. He was playing with a doggie deposit.”
“Awesome.” Chad muttered. I turned to see Reed resting on his daddy’s shoulder, dog-turd-glove pressed right up to Chad’s cheek.
I doubled over, nearly losing Miles off my back, and laughed myself back home.
I read a lot of articles about how hard parenting is — how messy and maddening and chaotic and exhausting it can be. And it is.
It TOTALLY is.
But parenting is also HILARIOUS and INTERESTING and so much dang FUN if you allow yourself to loosen up and slow down. Live a few minutes of each day like a kid.
Notice. Question and engage your world. Get dirty.
Make up a crazy song and sing it. Now sing it LOUD.
Slap your thighs and dance and try not to worry about the police watching from next door.
Take a break from duty to enjoy the humor and sparkle of these quirky little people who really do know how to live well!
*Feature image by Amy Vivio Photography