January 13, 2007
It’s official. My kid needs friends—very, very badly. If there’s one thing I really miss about our time in Texas, it’s the overabundance of children. We had a well used park one block from our apartment, we had dozens of kids in our church congregation, and I had a twice weekly babysitting job that was more like a play date. Seriously folks, everywhere I turned, there was another little angel just waiting to lick the upholstery of my car. I miss that, and so does James.
Since we’ve moved—and been in an unyielding state of upheaval—James has had very sporadic contact with children. And whooo boy, it’s really beginning to show.
Last Friday, we spent the day looking at houses with a real estate agent. Based on the fact that I had promised him a lollipop, James behaved remarkably well. After the showings were over, we headed to the corner store and let him pick a pop. When James entered the candy section, I mistakenly assumed that he would give some sort of a normal reaction. You know—hopping up and down, humming the tune of Endless Love, or wagging his imaginary tail.
Well, no. James didn’t do any of the above. Instead, he gazed lovingly at the piece of candy, hugged it close to his heart and said, “Hewo pop! Is you my fwend?” (translation: Hello pop. Is you my friend?) And in a grumbly, bear-like voice James made the lollipop reply: “Yes, I es yo fwend. I here to pway wet you, Dames.” (translation: Yes, I is your friend. I’m here to play with you, James.) And James and the lollipop proceeded to have a twenty minute play date in the backseat of the Toyota wagon.
They played guessing games, they took turns singing songs, and James pretended to tickle the lollipop stick until it farted, fainted, and eventually went missing on the floor of the backseat. As I attempted to calm an inconsolable two-year-old, it occurred to me—James was crying over the loss of a cardboard stick. I had one very lonely kid on my hands.
As soon as James gained his composure, I called Jared on his cell phone and said, “Listen. It’s been a month, and we’ve got to get back in the habit of going to church.” You see, where there are Mormons there are kids—lots and lots of poop-in-the-pants, booger-nosed kids. Just the way James likes ‘em.
So this morning, for this first time in a month, we got ourselves to the nine o’clock service. We walked into the building and settled into a pew behind a stiff-looking senior missionary couple. From our brief chat, I gathered that they were in their early seventies, they were fairly new missionaries, and with the exception of a family vacation or two, they had never left the boundaries of Salt Lake County, Utah. And I won’t lie—they seemed a little put off when I described the drive from Texas to New England as a “long ass trip.”
But, you know, I figured I should break them in early. After all, they’re serving in the Boston area for two-long years, and I’m minor compared to most of the Mass-holes they’ll cross paths with.
As the service began and the organ piped in, James broke out in a major case of the wiggles. Within ten seconds, he had bounced his miniature Hummer of the back of the male missionary’s head. I apologized profusely, and gave one of those faces where you clench your teeth, raise your eyebrows, and shrug your shoulders as if to say, “Kids. They do the darndest things.” Ten second later, James did it again. Obviously, I repeated my apology and did the whole embarrassed face thing again.
But after the third and final truck tossing, I gave up. I simply took the Hummer, parked it in my purse, and gave the old gentleman a somber nod. I got the distinct feeling that the kind senior missionary and I come from very different worlds. He probably raised nine children who all play the violin and sang harmonious musical numbers during Sunday service. And us? Well, we’re the Lawsons. When we come to church, we throw s*!&.