October 8, 2011
My husband had a wonderful childhood, full of all the mischievous fun one would expect from five busy, creative brothers. We love to hear the stories of his adventures growing up.
Once in a while my husband forgets there is a five-year-old boy hanging on his every word. He’ll catch himself, ending his story with, “Yeah, but that was really dangerous (or messy, or naughty) so I shouldn’t have done that.”
A few weeks ago while we were playing in the living room, my son got a look on his face as if he’d just remembered something he’d been meaning to do. He ran to the kitchen, grabbed a paper towel and hurried out the front door.
It was getting too late to play outside. I didn’t even have time to call him back when he returned, wading up the paper towel with a satisfied smile.
He looked at my husband with a conspiratorial twinkle in his eye, as if they were sharing a private joke. I could tell by my husband’s face that he didn’t know any more than I did about what was going to happen.
My son threw the paper towel at me in a flourish. It hit me with an unremarkable poof, opening up to reveal tiny pink petals from the flax in front of the house. Paper towel and petals fluttered to the floor.
He looked at my husband expectantly. It was obvious that he expected him to think what he’d done was hilarious.
“It’s a flower bomb!” he said, exasperated that we just weren’t getting it.
I laughed then at the perfect irony. There is no more appropriate metaphor for my peacemaking, hug-giving little ballistics expert than “flower bomb.”
This is a child who breaks up fights at school and worries about the safety of people riding motorcycles without helmets, who also spends hours building weapons out of cardboard, rubber bands, and marbles.
He loves everything about hunting – the camo, the guns, the sneaking through the woods. Everything except the killing part. That part he just can’t accept.
My husband and I exchanged an aw-shucks look that said, “Isn’t he adorable?”
My son rolled his eyes, irritated at being patronized. “It’s a flower bomb!” he repeated emphatically.
We both saw the light bulb go off above my husband’s head. He gave me a sheepish grin that told me he’d shared another story from his boyhood.
My son nodded enthusiastically, saying “Yeah! Like the ones you and your friends used to throw at each other!”
“You got it just right,” my husband said. “But we used flour, the powdery stuff Mom cooks with. It was really messy. You shouldn’t throw those kind of flour bombs.”
My son’s face fell. He was embarrassed for misunderstanding, and disappointed that he’d done it wrong.
I hugged him close and told him I thought his flower bomb was much better than those other flour bombs.
My son brightened. “My kind is a lot less messy, Mom.”
Yes, and a lot more perfect.