Will’s scholastic book order came yesterday. It had the usual slew of crappy stuff (Fly Guy book…with a PEN! Lego book…with a LEGO!), and a few surprises I’d thrown in to make things interesting. One was a little book called Not Your Typical Dragon by Dan Bar-el.
After getting frustrated with his LEGO (which he insisted was not only missing a piece, but was most-likely missing said piece because one of his brothers took it), I strongly suggested Will find something else to do with himself. He chose to read his new ‘dragon book.’
“Mom,” he said running up to me as I was loading the dishwasher, “you’ve got to read this book! It’s so hilarious. He’s a dragon, but he can’t breathe fire. And…and you’ve just GOT to read it!”
“That’s great babe. Just leave it by my chair and I’ll read it in a little while,” I promised.
Later, he asked me again…”Mom, have you read that book yet? Wasn’t it great?”
I cited some terribly important grown up task, such as washing towels or picking up the living room, but assured him I’d get to it ASAP. “Okay, but tell me when you do,” he said, and skipped off to play.
At bedtime, after tucking in several boys of various sizes, helping the sick one blow his nose, and assuring another that robots DO in fact need sleep, I found myself beside the bed of my smallest boy. He was already curled on his side wearing his red striped jammies that Santa brought last year. I noticed his ankles and wrist bones poking well beyond the white cuffs, but decided against making him change. I tucked Huge Sock Monkey against his back, placed Old Sock Monkey in his arms, and pulled the covers tight around them all. As I leaned in for one last kiss and snuggle, he whispered, “Don’t forget to read the dragon book mom.”
I promised I wouldn’t forget, blew a raspberry on his cheek, and then…quicker than the darkness fell as I turned out the light…forgot completely as the endless lists of “To Be Done” began scrolling through my head.
Today, as I puttered about doing grown up things like folding towels in perfect thirds, emptying garbage cans, and fishing stray socks out of hard to reach places, I happened across the Dragon Book.
I looked around me at the chaos and clutter. The words “hell” and “hand basket” came to mind. But instead of putting it off until I could make my coffee or run that one important errand, I immediately sat myself down to read. Not Your Typical Dragon was…is…a sweet and wonderful sort of story where you reach the last page and turn right back to the beginning for another go-round. I giggled at first, then laughed right out loud, the echoes chasing each other through the empty rooms.
And when I reached that last page, I cried. Because keeping the house is hard. Because small boys grow big so fast. Because this isn’t the first time I’ve chosen to put a broom in my hand instead of a boy in my lap. Because sometimes there’s no turning back the pages, so you have to savor your first and only read through. There will be time, and time, and time again I tell myself. But those white cuffs on his jammies tell the real story.
Four hours til school is out. Four hours until the fun can begin again. Until then, I’ll scurry and dust and motor far and wide, so when they come home…when it really counts…I can focus on the important things. Like little boy snuggles and dragons who breathe whipped cream. For now, this is what REALLY matters.