As usual, I went to bed around 11 PM. The next thing I knew, the clock read 8:10 AM (the school bus comes at 8:15) and he had somehow not done the bag yet. We frantically ran all around the house, basement, laundry room, garage, patio, backyard, and even our neighbor’s backyard (?) desperately looking for appropriate things to put in the “Me, Procrastinator Version” bag.
“I’ve got it! I’ve got it!” Tall shouted in my direction. “Just chill, Mom, I have all five things!”
A wave of relief washed over me (maybe it was more like a jolt of relief, as it was to be short-lived). As a quick precautionary measure (or reflexive parenting, not sure which), I double-checked what was in the bag. Five gruesome things stared up at me sardonically:
- The remote control to the TV (“I like to watch TV whenever I can, sometimes more”) and two back-up AAA batteries (“We go through a lot of batteries, what with all the violent cartoons and movies we watch and the excessive channel-surfing”)
- A half-eaten bag of M&M’s (“I thought my teacher and the School Nutritionist might like to know what we really eat for breakfast every day”)
- A handheld computer game called “Crazy Drivers With Big Guns and Lots of Noise, Level 8” that I had never seen before (“You let me buy this with my birthday money last year, remember, Mom?”)
- Three crumpled dollar bills (“This is to illustrate to my peers that money and what I can buy is the most important thing, and that my values are completely hollow”)
- A sheet of paper that at first glance looked like an innocent Christmas list. Thousands of things were written in minuscule writing on the multi-page list, with the heading: “Stuff I Want To Buy Or Other People Should Buy Me Immediately If Not Sooner.”
“MOV, it’s 7:05, I let you sleep an extra five minutes, but you’d better get up now. The kids are already dressed and I fed them breakfast. Tall wants to show you his school project, and he wants to know if it’s okay for him to take his soccer medal and that turtle he painted at the ceramic place. I told him to ask you, because the turtle might break. What do you think?”
I bolted out of bed to look at his bag. No remote control or batteries. No junk food/ candy. No horrible mystery video game that did not exist in real life. No dollar bills.
There was the soccer medal. The orange and yellow turtle. A LEGO airplane he had designed himself and built from spare LEGO pieces. Surprisingly, a Sacajawea coin cozied up to the turtle.
“Tall? Sweetie? Money is not the most important thing and our values are not hollow, so why are you taking this coin to school?” I could feel my voice rising.
“Well, I thought it would be cool to show everyone ‘cause the Tooth Fairy brought it to me.”
“Oh, oh, yeah. All right. That’s nice.” I smiled weakly. I reached in the bag and pulled out a rolled up piece of paper. I warily unrolled it, bracing for the materialistic Christmas list. Instead, I saw a detailed drawing of four smiling people and a large misshapen black and white horse, all holding hands (or hooves).
“This is not what I was expecting,” I mumbled to myself. “What’s this?”
Tall beamed at me, proud of his art. “That’s our family including the cat ... do you like it?”
I did. A lot.