And I'm still not sure that he really understands the Easter Bunny concept--who does, really?--but he was willing to indulge my silliness if it meant candy and a new bulldozer.
To my further delight, the bulldozer went outside immediately. No time to change out of his pj's even, before beginning the much-needed excavation of our garden beds.
After spending the day in the hospital for a family medical emergency, I was feeling like a wrung out dish rag. (We're all OK. Not trying to be mysterious, just not my story to tell.) Sweet Husband was needed for another task and I had no energy left to be mama, so I broke our longstanding "no TV on weekdays" rule and popped in The Land Before Time for the Kid. It was a favorite of my 80's childhood, so when I saw it in the bargain bin I grabbed it up, hoping the Kid would love it too.
But, oh hey there, maybe it is not the movie to watch when you're already emotional.
In addition to just the general weepy nostalgia, first there's Littlefoot being born and oh they all love each other and they're the last of their kind. Sob. And then Littlefoot's mama goes all mama bear (erm, mama dinosaur?) to protect her little man from Sharptooth. Sob. And then she dies. Sob, sob. Knowing that she's sending Littlefoot on this epic, dangerous journey on his own and he's probably going to die because she isn't there to protect him. Wail.
We were 10 minutes into the movie and I was already a snotty mess.
But I settled in a little when the Kid started asking questions.
"What's Littlefoot's whole name?"
"Well, he's a brontosaurus."
"What about Cera?"
"She's a triceratops."
"Is Sharptooth bad? Like Shere Khan and the monkeys?"
At which point, I must stop to explain that we've watched The Jungle Book lately, too.
And also that I'm on a bit of an irrational quest to help the Kid understand that "good" and "bad" aren't really that black and white. It's a little over his head, I'll admit, but not so much that it's completely futile.
"Remember, Shere Khan only wanted to eat Mowgli because he was afraid of him. Sharptooth is a little like that--he only wants to eat the other dinosaurs because he's hungry," I answered.
Later that night, when Sweet Husband got home, we were laying in bed talking about Sharptooth again.
"Why does he eat other dinosaurs?" the Kid asked Sweet Husband.
Sweet Husband launched into a lesson about herbivores and carnivores and everything in between.
"Sharptooth eats meat," I summed up. "Littlefoot and his family eat plants. People eat both meat and plants."
"So, people eat dinosaurs?" the Kid asked.
"We might if they were still here," Sweet Husband answered. "But they all died millions of years ago."
"Do people eat people, though?" the Kid cocked his head to the side, trying to discern the pattern in all this new information.
"No, buddy," I quickly chimed in. "We definitely don't eat people."
The neighborhood I grew up in wasn't terribly friendly. Everyone waived “hi” over the fences at each other, but there were no block parties or potlucks. It was very each-to-his-own.
Our immediate next door neighbor was an older woman who lived alone and kept about a dozen cats at all times. When I could coax a kitten under the fence I was allowed to play with it, but for the most part I was under strict orders to leave the woman in peace.
Except that one May Day, I didn't. In school that day, we had made “May baskets”—little paper cones with a string attached to hang over a doorknob. My teacher had also taught us about the custom of filling the basket with flowers, leaving it on someone's porch, knocking, and then running away before they answered.
I thought that idea sounded fun, so—unbeknownst to my mother—I filled my little cone with dandelions, quietly crept up to the woman's front door, rapped on it hard, and ran as quickly as I could to hide in some nearby bushes and watch. The woman looked puzzled as she opened the door, until she saw the flowers.
Then, much to my misunderstood horror, she began to sob.
I was so afraid. Not only had I “bothered” the poor woman, I had made her cry! Worried that I would get into deep trouble, I waited until she went back inside and slunk home.
Of course, as a grown-up, I understand her reaction a bit differently. And—although it won't be officially May Day for a few weeks yet—with all the tulips and daffodils in bloom right now, it seems like a good time to load up the Kid and teach him how to properly deliver May baskets.
While a paper cone will certainly do, these days I like to make my baskets so that they will hold water to keep the flowers fresh. A canning jar and a length of wire makes a basket that's pretty, inexpensive, and functional. Wire that's about 18 gauge should do the trick, but feel free to use what you have on hand.
To make the basket, start with a piece of wire that's about 6 feet long, and put the jar in the center. Wrap the wire tightly around the jar as if you were going to tie a bow, but instead just make a twist or two. Wrap the jar like this 2-3 more times to secure the wire, then start making the loop for the handle.
To make the loop stronger, take the two ends of wire that are sticking off of the jar, and begin twisting them to make a handle that's double thickness. Keep twisting until you have about 1 foot of twisted wire, then snip off the remaining ends. Form the twisted wire into a loop, and wrap the disconnected end around the end that's connected to the jar several times. Use a pair of pliers to really bash down the end of the wire so that it isn't pokey.
Last, fill the jars with water and flowers and go knocking. I'm confident you'll leave many with friends and people you know well, but—just for fun—try to drop off a few with neighbors that you don't know as well, too.
[Adele, possessed chicken.]
My brother, knowing that Sweet Husband was out of town and I'd been feeling under the weather, texted me early in the afternoon last Thursday, "Want me to come put the chickens away and take Moe for a walk?"
"Nah," I wrote back. "Thanks, but it's no biggie."
When we eventually got home, though, the Kid was being clingy. "Would you please carry me to the back yard?" he whined. So I scooped him up, opened the gate, and put him down just inside. Then I stepped back to the car--no more than 10 feet away--to grab my purse.
Bonnie and Adele must have been watching for days to have a chance. Because in the 10 seconds it took me to gather up my bag and coat, they bolted out the fence and into our neighbor's front yard.
"Just stay in the back yard!" I yelled to the Kid as I slammed the gate and chased after them. The girls were bolting too fast for me to actually catch them, so I tried herding them towards the gate. But when I'd try to open it, they would run the other way. I needed to leave the gate open, but I didn't want any of the other hens to decide to make a break for it, too.
I shouted to the Kid, "Hey buddy, can you feed the other chickens inside their coop?"
"I should feed the chickens?" he ducked his head out quizzically. We usually discourage him from doing that because he would feed them all day long.
"Yup!" I told him brightly. "Carry their food all the way back to their coop though, OK?"
"OK!" he gleefully yelled, his sullen mood completely forgotten.
With the other birds distracted, I decided to divide and conquer my escapees.
Bonnie, our Buckeye, lives up to her 80's rocker name on a normal day, but that day she was feeling extra hardcore. Emboldened by her success in evading me, she ran straight by me and into our alley. I waved my arms and tried to herd her, she told me to go to hell. I dove to snatch at her, she skillfully slipped away.
A lady rode by on her bike and laughed at the sight of us, "Good luck with that!"
Frustrated, I finally got her pinned close to a fence and made a committed grab.
"DAH! GOT YA!" I hollered, as she quickly settled under my arm and was reunited with her sisters.
Adele would not be caught so easily. There are days when my chickens don't go the way I want them to because they're just being stupid. But there are other days when they get such a naughty gleam in their eyes that I'm almost convinced they're a little possessed. "Della"--as I call her when I'm feeling fond--definitely had that mischievous sparkle, and I spent a good five minutes chasing with her narrowly evading me at every turn.
By that time, though, the Kid had gotten tired of babysitting and had come out to help. "Mama, I brought s'more food!" he said eagerly.
[Note: While it might have been preferable to have had a fully grown adult as my teammate in this woman vs. chicken battle, considering his age, the Kid performed wonderfully!]
"Awesome, buddy! Bring it here!"
He handed me the food, I sprinkled it close to my feet, and squatted down to be ready to strike. Adele came closer. She eyed the Kid warily. And then a little closer. She tilted her head to examine me. And finally she came close enough that I lunged at her.
Unlike with Bonnie, I didn't manage to get a good grip on her body, though. I just caught a foot, but I was not letting go. She squawked and flapped like I was going to kill her--and I'll admit, the thought crossed my mind--as I gracelessly threw her over the top of our fence and back into the backyard.
The Kid and I high-fived, and went inside to make dinner.