The mother of one of Ian’s friends called Katie and left a message the other night. We had just finished eating dinner when Katie began to listen to what turned out to be a rather long message. She had been listening without much emotion for a couple of minutes when she suddenly burst into laughter. She immediately took the phone away from her ear and began to punch away at the keys and lifted the phone back to her ear. It was the same thing. A lengthy period of silence followed by an outburst of laughter and tears. When she was done laughing, and before she offered any explanation of the call that now had me very curious, she turned to Ian. I somehow knew this was going to be good.
“Ian,” she said, “Charlie’s mom just called and she said you told Charlie that you have a barn that’s full of Skittles.”
“I do,” he said. “They’re in the barn at my farm.” He said this as certain as a farmer at the local coffee shop talks about his sheep or cattle or horses. But this was three year old Ian. He owns a plastic barn with battery operated plastic animals that baa and moo and neigh when you press the right button. The closest thing he has to a farm is the living room after he’s drug in a shoe full of dirt after playing outside. But Ian and Elliott have always had imaginations that are often centered around a make believe farm that they can describe every detail of – including the Skittles – with the exception of just how one might get there.
Skittles wouldn’t be the most surprising find in the barn last week.
We were driving to our friends’ house for dinner Saturday night when we drove past the boys’ school. For some reason seeing the school made Elliott think of Ms. Kathy, the school director. “Ms. Kathy has a baby,” Elliott said.
“You’re right,” Katie said, “She has a new little granddaughter.” There was a quiet and all indications were that that conversation was over. But it wasn’t. Someone else had a line to add to it.
“I have a granddaughter at my farm,” added Ian.
I hope she likes Skittles, I thought.
The crazy things they say weren’t over yet.
We were driving home from Church Sunday when the subject once again turned to babies. I can’t recall how. I do know it wasn’t a suggestion that we rescue Ian’s granddaughter from his farm. But somehow we began to talk about babies.
“Ian was really messy when he was born,” said Elliott.
Katie and I looked at each other, wondering where that came from. “You weren’t around when Ian was born, Elliott, how do you know he was messy,” asked Katie.
This is an example of Katie being much braver than I. As curious as I was to know what Elliott was talking about, I wasn’t curious enough to follow this conversation into the dark and uncomfortable areas it showed every possibility of visiting. But she couldn’t help herself, and Elliott obliged with an answer.
“I know he was messy because he was in your belly and all of that food kept dropping down on him.”
This is one of many reasons kids should not be able to speak, not a word, while in a moving vehicle. I nearly ran off the road with the image in my head of little Ian looking for cover as Katie dropped oatmeal and pizza and quarter pounders with cheese down on his unprotected head.
Katie went on to explain that Ian stayed in a different room of the stomach than the food did, once again demonstrating her bravery. I’m afraid I would have simply told him that the nurses were quick to clean the food off of him.
I am reminded today, on the one year anniversary of my good friend losing her husband, that these moments with our families are treasures. I am reminded that a second of worry about yesterday or tomorrow or about what I do or don’t have is a second robbed of the enjoyment and the overwhelming sense of gratitude I have for Ian and Elliott and their awesome mama. My prayers are with you today Rachel.
And finally, I hope everyone got to see the two very coolest moments of this NCAA tournament. And no, my obsessive UNC fan friends, one of them was not Duke getting beat by Lehigh. The first was just prior to the tournament when Bob Knight, the often volatile and seemingly cold coach of Indiana University, and later Texas Tech, found out while on air of a basketball game he was covering that his son, Pat, had just led his Lamar team into the NCAA tournament. The chair throwing and I’ve-adopted-cursing-as-a-second-language Bob Knight had tears in his eyes and his voice quivered as he declared that news was his happiest basketball moment of his 50 years in the sport. Then this past weekend, Clark Kellogg was announcing a game when he found out his son, who plays for Ohio University, had just helped his team into the sweet 16 round of the tournament. He lost all sense of the game he was calling as he was overcome with joy. A very visible joy.
I could relate. But more, I was thankful to see that feeling never goes away. That even when our kids have moved out of their barns filled with skittles and granddaughters, they can still bring us such joy.