April 23, 2009

Young Hearts, Young Love

Tonight my son was crying over a baby bird. At baseball practice a boy had found a baby bird that was sick or lost or whatever happens to baby birds who are not with their moms. The boy pitched the bird over the fence to get it off the field.

Apparently, my son came unhinged and started crying right there. (Suddenly, I have this image of Tom Hanks bellowing, "THERE'S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!")

And then came bedtime. He was in bed for 15-20 minutes and out he comes crying again. "I can't sleep," he says. "Every time I close my eyes and start to sleep I think about the baby bird and I dream about it. I want to go find it and make sure it's okay." It's cold and pitch black outside. There's no way to find a baby bird no matter what our inclination. He is his mother's child and wants to make things right in the world.

His father sends him to bed and I follow to find him huddled under the covers. He pokes his head out to see who has come to his bedside. "It's me," I say. "I've come to lie down with you for a minute. I know you're having a hard time."

He bursts into tears. "Do you want to know why I'm having a hard time?"

"Yes," I say as I lie down beside him, wrap my arms around him.

He tells me the story about the boy and the bird. He sobs it out in bursts and spasms, weeping deeply for the bird who is gone from his mother. I listen and wonder if his tears come from a deeper place, a small corner hidden away, a past we haven't talked about in depth, the one that holds the tale of a baby taken from one mother and given to another. I try not to let my mind go there, to hold firmly to the image of the baby bird because I want the tale to just be a simple story about a lost bird in a field.

We talk at length about nature and survival of the fittest and how life for animals is not the same as life for humans. It's not making him feel any better. I decide I'm not good at this and take the easy way out. "Think about something else," I offer as my lame solution.

"I can't, I can't stop thinking about it," he wails.

"Think about something really interesting. Like... I don't know, maybe climbing a mountain with your brother. And you're closer to the top than he is and he hangs on for dear life and instead of grabbing the mountain he grabs the back of your pants and your pants nearly come off and we can all see the top of your booty crack and your brother starts yelling, 'BOOTY!'"

This sordid vignette had the desired effect which was to send him from despair to glee. He laughed and laughed and we expounded for a few moments on how horrible and tragic it would be to have to mountain climb with his brother because of various booty crack incidents.

And, of course, booty crack conversations just naturally evolve into conversations about girls. I explained that any girl on this tragic mountain climbing trip would certainly never be allowed to see him again. They would be forbidden by their mothers, instantly.

He said he had to tell me something bad. My heart lurched. "Sure, tell me something bad, I'm ready."

"You know I like Sadie."


"But she doesn't like me."

I told him how crazy that was because he's the most awesome boy ever, so handsome and with the coolest freckles ever. "Not everyone gets to have freckles you know. They are cool. You know what my mom called freckles when I was a kid?"


"Kisses from the sun!"

His eyes got wide and he smiled. "Is that true????"

"Of course it's true. The sun comes down from the sky and goes MWA MWA MWA and everywhere it kisses your face is a little brown spot, a kiss from the sun." (The part I left out was that my mom told me this because kids at school would make fun of me and she was trying to make me feel better.)

"You know what this MEANS???"


"This means I'll be TAN!"

I laughed. "Well, I suppose if you get enough freckles and they smoosh together, yeah."

"Okay, you want to hear something else bad?"

"Yes, tell me."

"I really like TWO girls. I like Haven and I like Sadie."

"Hmm. Really? Does Haven like you?"

"I think so. Dad says sometimes when a girl messes with you it means she likes you." (My first thought was oh please don't take relationship advice from your dad.)

"How does she mess with you?"

"I don't know." He seems a little embarrassed suddenly. We lie there for a minute. He smiles. "Well, I tell you who really DOES like me."



"Really? How do you know?" I try not to look too eager because I don't want him to get embarrassed and stop talking.

"Well, the other day I was trying to help her pick up her crayons and she slammed my head into the table. That's how I know she likes me."

As we lay there in the dark for a few more minutes I thought, wow... he is SO like his dad.

[photo credit: amypalko]


  1. Okay, I wanted to cry in the beginning, and--just like him--was cracking up at the end. You *are* good at this, Mom!

  2. What a sweet post. You need to save it for his "baby" book. I like your son's heart. He is gonna be one of the good guys in this life!

  3. I love that conversation that you had with him. I am impressed at the both of you!

  4. I'm still crying for the baby bird and your so, so sweet boy. But I have the butt crack giggles now too, so all should be well again.

    Beautiful post.

  5. Oh Wendy, you touched my heart with this one in so many different ways.

  6. This made me cry a little. It made me cry because your son may very well have bird flu and will need to be quarantined.

  7. You are a terrific mom! And what a good heart Julius has. He is the sweetest!

  8. I love you both even more today.

    I also agree with Mrs. E - Julius is one of the good guys! Compassion is a wonderful trait.

    What a great post, Wendy!

  9. I don't know if I'll ever be ready for the "I like a girl" conversation, but I know it's coming whether I like it or not!

  10. You handled those things beautifully. Kudos.

  11. I'm taking notes. On all of this. What a sweet boy!

  12. Would you just write a book already?

    You are as funny as Erma Bombeck and as tender as ...I don't know, but tender enough to make me cry.

    I thoroughly enjoy your writing!

  13. nice story.....boys are great. about the bird, my daughter used to try to catch birds when she was a toddler so she could pet them and would cry when they flew away.

  14. I love the bit about the freckles, having the same trouble myself. And I think that I showed Robert McGuinness my affection in the same way as Megan did to your boy. I kissed him and poked him in the eye.

  15. Sweet story. When I was a kid, I used to wish all my freckles would merge to make me tan... Thanks for stopping by my place.

  16. Hi! Been lurking here a little. I loved this post--I'm still all verklempt. What a sweet boy and what an intuitive mama!

  17. Oh, what a precious boy! And a wonderful momma! Of course, I would have been out there gathering up that baby bird. And whipping the boy that threw it over the fence!

  18. Kristine: You and me both. Thanks for your kind words.

    Mrs. E: Have you seen Blurb? I just made a book for a client of mine the other day from their web site and it turned out so nice I was thinking of doing it with some of the blog posts about the boys. You should check out blurb.comMichele: Aw, thank you.

    Mama Goose: Thanks. It's strange because I remember my mom having the same conversation with me. A mama bird had thrown one of her babies out of the nest because it had mites and she didn't want it to infect the whole nest. I was devastated.

    Neen: Honestly, I don't think I could read my blog if I were you. I admire your strength and fortitude considering your loss.

    Shawn: I sent someone to see you. :)

    Ginny: He *is* sweet. Except when he's not.

    Tati: I love you more.

    Sujatha: Do you ever have days where you feel like you're on a speeding train?

    Lawyer Mom, Jill, Kim: Thank you both! I am touched by your kind words.

    Becky: I hope the notes are not for CPS. :)

    Victoria: It's tough to face their disappointments. That's one of the things I find the hardest is the empathy part. Ouch.

    Madame DeFarge: You are a force to be reckoned with. I admire that in a woman. :)

    Only a movie: There was a girl in my school who was also a redhead but for some reason she could actually tan. I hated her and loved her at the same time. Humans are complicated.

    Amy: I had to laugh out loud. One of my brothers uses the word verklempt and he also named his cat that.

    Shannon: All bird throwers must be punished. You go, girl. (Also, I will remember to call you next time it's pitch black and there's a bird to be gathered.)

  19. awww. poor little guy... being sad about the baby bird. I can relate...

  20. Takes me back a few years - wonderful moments with your children to be cherished. Thanks for sharing and I enjoy your writing style.

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  22. Crying, laughing, loving, dreaming.... You have a gift! (As if you didn't already know!) You sound like such a remarkable woman and I enjoy your writing very much. And you're very blessed, even though your son may be like his father as far as relationships go it's easy to see he gets his heart bursting with compassion from you. :) Take care and I look forward to reading more!

  23. aw ha ha ha i loved this :) my son is 9 on wedensday yay ! i cant wait till we have the girl chats heheh .... ty for the smiles :) Kittibee x


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