I’ve said it before, Zoomboy is such an odd little duckling, that sometime he just about breaks my heart.
Last night, after an OMG *exhausting* day that involved two trips to the pharmacy, $1200 worth of bad car news, and a meeting with my son’s teacher that I’d forgotten about twice and that STILL didn’t happen, I gathered my mommy-hood in both hands and did one more thing and took the kids to the skating rink for a school fundraiser.
Now, granted, Chicken did all the work– she took painstaking little steps around the rink with first Squish and then Zoomboy attached to her arm, each one falling repeatedly for that hefty upper body workout–but still. It was hard to watch. Zoomboy was SO excited about skating–this was his third time–and as I asked the guy fruitlessly to crank the bearings on the skates so that Zoomboy might not so closely resemble this:
He refused, of course. There seems to be some sort of bylaw that says that any child in a size 3 tennis shoe is more than capable of going Mach 5 with his hair on fire. The fact that my poor little Zoomboy– who can’t successfully walk across the house without tripping on his own feet and bringing furniture down with him– is destined to look like that picture with some wheels added on those kleenex boxes does nothing to dissuade the skating authorities at large. They’re absolutely sure that should they crank his skates tighter, he will blow a ball bearing and go ass over teakettle in a boy/skate fireball that rivals a Nascar crash.
Zoomboy should be so coordinated.
I brought my Kindle and my knitting the better to not have to watch, but still, looming mommy-hood compelled me to look out over the crowds of those other eight year olds with their fiery heads to see my poor spastic giraffe, clinging tightly to the faux fur covering the walls, while his feet and legs did a complicated hambone dance that would have done Danny Kaye proud.
And he was still disappointed when we had to leave.
It made my heart hurt.
And so did this morning.
Because that second trip to the pharmacy yielded results, and I got home with a brown bottle of little brown pills. And we’ve got two doctor’s appointments and a teacher meeting all dedicated to the efficacy of these little brown pills and my Zoomboy. Zoomboy downed the pill, and I made Dad promise to take him to McDonalds, the better to eat, because the little brown pills tend to affect their appetites and Zoomboy is all bird bones anyway, and then Zoomboy just sort of collapsed limply, with complete trust, on my chest as we sat down for cuddles, and I thought about the awful responsibility of being the person who handed out those little brown pills.
My odd little duck– God, he’s so happy with himself. He makes shapes in school and thinks he can jumprope as well as the other children (please refer to the above picture again) and comes home all excited about stone soup and reads books on mummies because they’re totally gross and… and he’s such a perfect odd little duck.
I just don’t want to mess with perfection, that’s all.
But at the same time, someday–and soon–it’s going to occur to my odd little duck that people laugh at odd little ducks, and he’s going to be devastated. I don’t think I could stand that. If the little brown pill helps him focus on the big duck pond instead of his wandering duckling thoughts, that is probably all for the better. If it helps him remember that he’s supposed to be running laps instead of pretending to be a car or doing the wedgie dance, he will probably be a happier little duck. I remind myself that just because forty-three years of living has made me comfortable in my oddness doesn’t mean that there weren’t some damned uncomfortable, awkward, painful years that led to all this comfort. It doesn’t mean that there haven’t been some damned uncomfortable, awkward, painful adult moments as a result of it since.
I remind myself that odds are good that he can still be an individual duck and just not be quite so odd. Or at least so publicly odd, anyway. He’s welcome to be as odd as he wants in his own home, where odd ducklings are celebrated and not made to feel like being roadkill would be preferable to swimming in the duck pond.
I remind myself that he put his head on my chest in the absolute surety that everything would be all right, and that’s my job. To protect my odd little duck. To point him at the duck pond instead of over hill and dale, where people aren’t constantly making odd ducks feel bad for something they can’t control, and where foxes and wolves eat odd ducks who weren’t comfortable at the duck pond.
So he’ll probably still read to his sister about gross things like mummies, and he’ll probably still think he can jump rope when he looks like Melman the spastic giraffe, and he’ll probably still say “I love you bigger than sky and deeper than blue”–but maybe, for the world at large, he’ll be better off as a slightly more average duck on the little brown pill. It would suck if he had to make it through his childhood as the odd duck out.
(*Yearning is out tomorrow–happy excited thoughts and that wonderful picture of the big wolf again. And probably less parental gooeyness to boot–I promise.)