Big Guy and the stinky, awful book
Back when I was in my 20s, my grandmother gave me underwear for three Christmases in a row. The first year, I was amused. The second, I was puzzled. The third, I ran to my bedroom to boo-hoo. Luckily, she wasn't around to see that last performance.
Like many bad experiences accumulated over a lifetime, this one came in handy as parent. Particularly this week, when a book I'd bought at Boots' school upset Big Guy.
Upset? No, that's putting it mildly. He was practically apoplectic.
"Just look at this," he snarled. He waved the offensive volume, a Scholastic book about NBA stars, under my nose. "Not a single Laker. Not one. This book reeks. I don't want it!"
"OK," I said, calmly considering my 6-year-old had just registered on the Richter scale. I set the book aside. "You know, there are times when we're given presents we might not be wild about it. But the nice thing to do is thank the person anyway."
"Why should I thank you when I don't like it?" he asked.
"Because I was trying to do something nice for you. I was thinking of you. Sometimes people just goof up even when they're trying to do the right thing."
"Oh yeah?" he challenged. "I bet no one's every got you a present you didn't like."
"As a matter of fact, someone has," I said, trotting out the underwear homily.
"What did you do?" Big Guy asked, his eyes wide with horror. To a 6-year-old, underwear under the tree sounded worse than coal in the stocking.
"I said 'thank you.' She wasn't trying to make me mad or sad. She was trying to be nice."
"Mommy, I just don't like this book," he said, flames no longer shooting out of his nostrils. "There aren't any Lakers in it, and I don't know any of these other players."
I reminded him that he hadn't known anything about Yao Ming when he checked that book out of the library, but he'd enjoyed that book anyway. He still wasn't convinced, and he still was a little bitter. "No Lakers. That's not right."
He did decide to keep the book, though he didn't want to read it that night.
We weren't through mentioning unmentionables that night either.
"What did you do with all that underwear?" he asked much later.
"Well, I didn't have to do laundry for a long, long time."
Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.