Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I'm an admitted worry-wart when it comes to my kids and my animals.

I have large-scale battle plans to save my children and pets in the event of a ferry crash, fire, home invasion, earthquake, or war. I think it's the result of a lifetime of reading. And movies. And maybe just watching the local news.
Either way, my last thought every evening and multiple times throughout the day for the last 3.5 years has been, "God, protect my children." I know how I will hide, protect, or rescue my little crew in the event of any disaster that could enter a mother's mind late at night or during a rough ferry ride on a stormy day.

What we can't avoid, however, is always the scariest.

Last night, we heard that a little cousin of Jeff's will be losing his battle to cancer within 3 to 4 weeks. When we heard his list of last wishes, it was about as heartbreaking as anything we had ever heard. Some of his wishes were grand, many were simple, and a few were silly. All of them, though, were sweet. It made my mind leap in all different directions as I thought of this little boy and his big heart.

I wished that there was some way his family had known these wishes years ago. As they give this little boy a glorious and joyous last few weeks, I bet they will all wish they had known all along that he had a secret desire to drink a whole case of YooHoo or take his little girlfriend on a carriage ride downtown. What parent wouldn't? They would have been giving him YooHoo all day, everyday, just to see him smile.

All of that made me think of how we could all stop and try to think of what our own children wish for. Healthy or sick, they all have this limited amount of magical time as little kids. It seems so important to me that we make their childhoods as sparkly and adventurous as possible.

I'm not at all proposing that we spoil them, and I'm definitely not saying they should be given everything they want. But...

I remember with clarity how I believed in fairies for a year or 2 when I was a little girl because my grandma made a fairy village in the woods with tiny little clothe lines with filmy little clothes hanging from them, miniature tennis courts on tree stumps, and signs bearing the names like "Honeysuckle" or "Blue Belle" above little woodpecker holes in old trees.

I remember my other grandma taking me to collect chestnuts at the park so we could hide them around her yard for squirrels to find before winter and then having a tea party inside with an old tea set that was packed away safely in boxes when not in use. Later, we would go see which nuts had been found and which hadn't.

I remember reading so many stories that filled my imaginary world so that I would make a fort in the storage area beneath the steps and pretend I was locked in a cave during a blizzard, "roasting" saltines and smarties over the lamp for survival with my sisters for hours on end.

I wandered the woods without permission, had a secret garden with a little girlfriend, and started the "Animal Caring Club" to tend to the abused and neglected animals in our neighborhood. (this consisted of making little paper bowls and filling them with dog or cat food to slip to dogs and cats we found in people's backyards and then jotting down our accomplishments in little notepads. Of course, these were most likely all completely happy and well-treated animals in reality.)

My mom gave me stickers and little presents in my lunch until I graduated, heart-shaped sandwiches on Valentine's Day, and homemade cookies every day. When a few of my guy friends expressed jealousy, my mom started sending my lunches with cookies for them as well. :) There was no limit to her mothering. I was probably the only senior in high school who had friends waiting excitedly for a "lunch unveiling" to see what goodies we would all get.

I was a little weirdo, an adventurer, and an idealist. Life was so magical and full. I was excited to wake up in the morning and had little battle plans for every day. What better gift can I give my children than that?

I hope they grow up with dirt on their hands, twigs in their hair, and a twinkle in their eyes.