My little Danny Sammy, standing with chin up and hands on hips, often repeats to our Berto, his big bro, "We are dudes!"
Berto taught him this mantra, because although Danny and Ella Boo are fantastic friends who play house all the day long (and terrible enemies), Berto wanted Daniel to know that guys are very different from girls. You know the old saying: they're made of snakes and snail goo and sharp rocks and puppy dog fleas and cool machinery, or whatever that old rhyme says.
So when the girls and I cry at the end of the movie Hachi, and Berto is rolling his eyes and Daniel is looking bewildered and completely insensitive, it's a, "We don't cry...because we're dudes. Right, Daniel?" Same thing goes for squeals over pretty clothes on shopping trips - their mantra is spoken with the same kind of thanksgiving and relief.
And Daniel always responds proudly to his hero, "Yeah, we are dudes!"
One night it morphed into something more in keeping with the times. While putting Danny to bed, I tried to ease Ella Boo's fears about an upcoming, special trip for her uncle's wedding by calling to her, "Mama and Papa will keep you all safe. It's going to be fun, and all you girls are going to be flower girls. Just think about that!"
"All of us?" asked Daniel.
"You're not a girl, Danny!" replied Booey from the other room, giggling.
"No," he said. "We're going to be flower dudes!"
We pray Our Father in the car on the way to school each morning. During one hard week I added a personal plea of, "And may God help Mama to understand, because I feel like I have no understanding, so may he help me grasp some truth!"
And Analisa said simply and immediately, "Jesus is the truth."
"Oh, Ana..."began Berto in typical exasperation.
"No, you know what?" I interrupted cheerfully. "That may be just what God wanted me to hear this morning. Jesus said I am the way, the truth and the life. And he also said out of the mouth of babes!"
"Out of the mouth of babes?"
"Yes, Berto - like children, babies."
I started laughing. "Berto, you thought Jesus meant out of the mouth of hot chicks?"
He grinned at me
I merrily laughed it up all through car line. God had blessed me with a simple answer and humor through my children. It was going to be a brighter day.
We're getting ready to paint our house for the first time in eleven + years. There's just one problem.
There are muddy handprints all over the storage cupboards above the back patio. Years ago, on a post-rainy day, Berto and Ana stuck their hands in the fresh, lovely mud in the yard, and with not a papa or a mama in sight, they went up and down the back wall of the house and the cupboards, laughing and laying down their childish signatures in brown, gooey, prolific glory.
We heard them, and we caught them red-handed. Matthew wanted to be mad but couldn't, because I started giggling and became infatuated with the little handprints as their sheepish faces looked up at ours. I somehow convinced Matthew not to attempt to wash them away. They dried in the brutal desert heat, becoming frozen in time.
Our friend Ryan, a painting contractor, left these clay marks of childhood alone the day he power-washed our house. Yet he and my husband warned me that we need to paint those cupboards, or they will stick out like a sore thumb on our newly painted home.
Our house has aged. Berto and Ana have grown. But those handprints haven't changed. Every once in a while I notice them and smile.
So I'll take a picture. Then we may have all the kids dip their hands in the green trim paint and sign the cupboards afresh. Because, hey, if I ever achieve sanctity (which is about as likely as my kids remaining children forever), I might become the Patron Saint of Grumpiness as Berto suggested, but I'm also a good candidate for the Patron Saint of sentimental fools.
This post was based on Clare Law's blog, Three Beautiful Things. I always enjoy visiting her site, because I never fail to be reminded to enjoy each day and to take the time to relish all the silly, cute, sweet, unusual and beautiful things my kids do. It's all about accumulating the laugh lines and the memories.