Thursday, December 3, 2009
The days leading up to Thanksgiving were just that – stuffed. Stuffed full of school programs, stuffed full of preparatory activities, stuffed full of various feasts that finally culminated into that feeling you try to unsuccessfully avoid after the celebratory meal arrives. Stuffed.
Let me back up a bit.
Our week began with a Thanksgiving program performed by Mary Mac’s kindergarten class. Among the many costumes to be worn for the play- Indians, turkeys, pilgrim boys, pilgrim girls – I was charged with outfitting my five year old as a pilgrim girl.
Realistic moms identify personal limitations early on in their parental careers. Among my own smorgasbord of weaknesses that include skills lacking in baking, ironing and concern for dusty baseboards, the real kryptonite to my desire to be considered capable domestically is anything that has to do with needle and thread.
I can’t mend. I can’t sew. I can’t even replace buttons whose glaring absence causes my husband to button dress shirts haphazardly. And truth of the matter is I don’t really want to master any of these skills. In the same way, I don’t want to learn to change the oil in my car, vacuum the debris at the bottom of the pool or clean leaves from the gutters of our home. There simply is no interest.
In a half-hearted attempt to improve on in an area that is glaringly apparent to others, I travelled to Michael’s, a local arts and crafts supply store that produces light-headedness every time I enter. Standing in front of various colors of felt, buttons, glitter and fabric glue reminded me again that this is not an arena in which I excel. It also reminded me of the many reasons I appreciate the world wide web and I quickly left the store to order my sweet girl’s costume from the internet.
If you squint your eyes just right, Mary Mac’s costume might be considered of the homemade variety. It was the made in China sticker on the back of her right shoulder, however, that gave it away.
In my experience, liberty can be found in the recognition and acceptance of one’s limitations. Now if only the internet could offer some assistance with the ironing and baking.
A few days later our family of five travelled to Atlanta to see the Rockettes perform at the Fox Theatre. Before the show, we took the children to a somewhat fancy dinner in the hotel where we would later spend the night.
Upon entering the restaurant, we quickly noticed the absence of any other children. With a whispered reminder to each of my three to use their nicest manners, we were seated at a table covered in hundreds of pieces of fine china and crystal goblets. (Not really, this was just the prophesied picture in my head that would not let me enjoy the fantastically set table.)
To my surprise, it wasn’t the silverware, the lit candles, or even the huge crystal goblets filled to the rim with carbonated sprites that gave our children trouble. It was the menu that would cause each of them distress.
“Rabbit?” Mary Mac read off of the menu, her eyes as big as the bread plate to her left. “People eat little bunnies in this restaurant?” she asked me.
Before I could respond, Chandler located another furry animal on the menu that set his gag reflex in forward motion. “Lamb?! Someone cooks a baby sheep in a pot back there in the kitchen?” he said loud enough to make a lady sitting at the next table turn to stare at our incredulous brood. I silently prayed that my children would not notice the fur still draped around the curious woman’s shoulders, causing a full-blown rescue attempt by three animal loving adolescents.
“If this is such a fancy restaurant,” Chase piped in, “then why are they making everybody eat animals from a barnyard?”
My husband began a prolonged discourse on the culinary delicacies of the menu items in question, but was met with defiant resistance by our three children who count Charlotte’s Web as a favorite movie. During John’s diatribe, I motioned for the waiter, asking quietly for a children’s menu that hopefully contained the preservatives to which our offspring were accustomed.
Distraction is a key tool used in our household, so I began a game of “I Spy Something Fancy” to divert attention away from sautéed baby animals. Although the unfortunate fur collar of the neighboring lady was inevitably sited, causing momentary alarm and drama, we were able to successfully convince our children that it was the remnants of a mean, scary wolf that rightfully earned its swift demise. Folks at PETA would not be amused.
After a delicious meal that included hotdogs with a side of macaroni and cheese, our children momentarily forgot the offensive entrees as we headed across the busy street to see the Rockettes perform.
The show was unbelievable, bringing us all early Christmas joy. It ended with a live nativity scene that showcased the wise men, shepherds, and others in a demonstrative state of worship that brought goose bumps up and down my arms. Even the camels, donkeys, and sheep seemed to be captivated by the glorious baby that would forever change the world.
A tap on my shoulder briefly brought me out of the reverence I was experiencing. I turned to see my ten year old son, Chase, with a light and wonder in his eyes that caused my own to mist over. He motioned me to lean closer, and then tenderly whispered into my ear, “ I hope those restaurant people across the street don’t find out about these animals. They might just end up on their menus.”
And then the tears were real, as I belly laughed until I cried.