By Martha Randolph
looks like one of the Blue Men, you know, from the Revolution."
it to Dad to come up with an historical reference.
small son, Louie, was three years old and standing at the front
door clad in only his underwear, completely covered in an aqua blue
coating. He had figured out his big, fat sticks of chalk dissolved
in puddles. I was impressed with his attention to detail; even his
eyelids and the backs of his ears were blue.
surprised he was up to something. That was life as a single mother
with Louie. Thank goodness I knew he was smarter than I was. That's
what made it possible to look out a window and see him on his small
tricycle, legs out to the sides, whizzing down our very steep driveway,
his curly hair straightened by the wind blowing past him, and not
worry. Or watch him attempt to pet every living creature, sometimes
getting nipped by the geese down by the lake in the process, and
not worry. Eventually the geese gave in and let him pet them, and
he gently stroked their heads and chatted with them. They would
turn their heads slightly and look at him till he was done talking.
did get nipped a little hard once by a garden snake and it made
him mad, very mad. His three-year-old self whipped the snake into
a half-knot, for which he felt instantly sorrowful and he came to
get me to help untie the snake.
I asked, in the middle of vacuuming. "You did what?"
tied a snake in a knot and I need you to help me untie it,"
he said, calmly.
off the vacuum, still looking at his calm expression, wondering
if maybe this all meant something else and I would find something
else tied in a knot. Tied a snake in a knot?
There on the front step was a long black garden snake slowly, very
slowly, untying itself from a very tight half-knot.
it," Louie said.
did you do it?" I asked.
bit me," he said, offering up his hand with a small red mark;
no skin was broken. "Untie it," he repeated, looking back
down at the snake, which was fortunately making progress on its
it's getting somewhere. We'll let the snake handle this one."
wasn't completely satisfied and stayed to make sure before depositing
the snake back in the grass. It didn't try to bite him again.
Louie play in the front yard of our small neighborhood without me
right next to him since he was three. We live there still in our
red brick rancher, on a quiet cul-de-sac surrounded on one side
by a small lake, and off of two other fairly quiet streets. Louie
had been trying to break out of the house since he was two, sometimes
successfully. I was worn out by the time he was three.
think his little hands at two years old could get the door open,
but one day some elderly neighbors were showing me pictures they
had recently taken and in one of them was Louie, smiling broadly,
still in his pajamas, obviously outside without my knowledge. At
the time, when I thought Louie was in his room, our next door neighbor,
Murray, sometimes referred to as the King of the Cul-de-Sac by our
neighbor who was deteriorating from Alzheimer's, came to my door
with Louie in tow. My son had quietly, stealthily snuck out and
gone next door to ask Murray if he could come out and play. That's
when I started dead-bolting the doors.
"We can't get out, she locked the doors," he said glumly
to my oldest sister, his Aunt Diana, the surgeon, who smiled in
return. That clued Louie in.
know where the key is?" he asked. She refused to tell him,
so he went back to scheming. For months Louie would ask every guest
who ventured into the house, and was then locked in, if they were
ready to go, could he walk them to their car. He did this with no
expression on his face leaving them to think they were unwanted.
I constantly had to explain that Louie was trying to sneak outside.
"It's not you, I promise," I would say.
him from the car to the house was always a long process. Louie wouldn't
give in for at least fifteen minutes, sometimes a half hour, every
time we pulled into the driveway, even if it was late at night and
he was exhausted. He was outside and he saw it as precious time
and he was going to stay out there even if he had to keep shaking
his head to stay awake.
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