The first house I remember living in had a tiny linoleum kitchen with wooden folding doors leading to it from the family room. My parents locked the doors way up high with one of those eyelet locks because my brother was hyper-active and sugar was his drug.
We found ways to get in, anyway. We’d climb on chairs and boost one another up, and always got in. Oh the days, and those early years.
Getting to forbidden sugar isn’t the point of this particular story though. This is a story about the days, the years, the smiles, and Brave Mr. Buckingham saying “That didn’t hurt!”
I feel like the kitchen was mostly yellow but can’t say for sure. Our table sat next to the window, my seat directly in front of it. I’d lean back, balancing my chair on two legs, and found harmony when the chair’s head rested on the windowsill holding me solidly angled and just-right.
“You’re going to fall or break the chair,” my parents said. “Sit properly.”
One day, a tooth of mine hung by a string and I was scared about pulling it. My dad had a book from his childhood – Brave Mr. Buckingham. It was about a boy afraid of having a tooth pulled. He was told the story of this Native American guy (in the book, released in 1935, he was called an Indian) who lost a foot, his other foot, an arm, a torso, and so on. After each of his accidents, Brave Mr. Buckingham said “That didn’t hurt!”
I loved that book.
At the end, the little girl in the story fed Brave Mr. Buckingham strawberries, who by then, was just a head sitting on a kitchen table in a feathered headdress.
Weird fact side-note – I’ve wanted my dad’s childhood copy of that book for years and nobody seems to have it. I Googled it, cannot find a copy to purchase, and learned that its author also wrote Pat The Bunny. Life is weird because we have several copies of Pat the Bunny, and not having Mr. Buckingham does kind of hurt. I remind myself that it doesn’t hurt-hurt though.
In that linoleum kitchen, there was a day when I shattered a mercury and glass thermometer. I’d been leaning back in my chair, lost balance, and crashed forward, biting down. “Don’t swallow!” my parents said, and I didn’t. I can still feel the saliva under my tongue, wondering whether I’d die.
They fished balls of mercury from my mouth. Placed it on the tablecloth. We played with it, separating it, watching it roll. My dad probably got a science lesson in about mercury but I just remember how cool it was that it’d roll like a ball but then be melty-ish in a cup.
I didn’t die, and tilted back in my chair there and in the next house for the rest of my childhood.
I think about how quickly and slowly summer happens each year. I think about my son’s school year ending and a new one beginning.
“That didn’t hurt,” I said, knowing it hurt, because each year passing hurts all of us a little bit even as we grow and find grace.
Tucker went to Parkour Camp last week. He’s obsessed with it, and also so so hard on himself that I was worried. I needn’t have worried though. They were wonderful with him. So encouraging, helping him climb down when he was meant to climb up, telling him that he can do it.
On the final day, he jumped into a 12-foot foam pit, yelling, “I believe I can fly!” on the way down. The first day, he scooted into it on his butt. I have video but am terrible about video editing but promise to share soon, either here or on the Book of Faces.
School starting again soon hurts although I think I’m mostly okay with my not-so-little little boy going into second grade. It hurt enough to try and prolong it, and so we went to the beach, where I think about each year’s smiles and growth and new words and remembering my own childhood trips.
I think about how my son has grown and about how his smile has stayed the same each year on the beach.
About how tall he’s gotten. Comparing yesteryear to this one…
It didn’t hurt at all to watch my son pretend to paddle in a sea kayak in front of me on the smooth waters of Fenwick Island Bay. Jellyfish all around us, and nobody fell in.
We let waves slam us and remind us of our size both big and small. “That didn’t hurt,” we said. Except that it did, a little bit because the waves were strong and the sand was biting. Except it also wasn’t, because learning to love wave-slams from a boy who seeks sensory input is pretty beautiful.
The beach in August hurts a little bit anyway, because night time came around 8:00 rather than 9:00. Anything ending hurts a little bit.
But mostly, the years passing do what they do. What we do within them, and with them, is what matters. Here’s to remembering the moments that sucked, the ones that were life-changing, and to knowing each year ahead holds as much beauty and grace as the ones behind us do.
To also remembering that progress, acceptance, and evolution needs the years passing in order to continue.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. Our sentence this week was “When it comes to the years…”