My youngest (the newly minted geologist) has always puzzled me just a bit. In a fun way. Well, most of the time.
For example, when he was 18 months old he became a little obsessed with garages. All kinds.
I didn't even know he had the word in his vocabulary. He wasn't a big talker in those days, which wasn't too surprising, given that he had two older siblings with strong personalities who voiced strong, mostly opposing, opinions rather loudly.
But one day we were driving in downtown St. Paul, and from his car seat out shot a wee finger pointing to a multi-story parking ramp, and to accompany the gesture, a one-syllable utterance: grawdj.
I didn't quite believe my ears, because I was expecting to hear such words as "ball" or "doggie" or "passie." But soon enough we passed another parking ramp and the word popped out again.
Strange, I thought, but . . .
"Sean, for the love of God, will you please stop shooting spitwads at your little sister!" And, well, you know how that goes.
Soon we were back in our neighborhood and I turned into the alley to put the car in the . . .
OK, so now I was convinced. Somehow, somewhere my baby had figured out that structures in which cars were parked -- be they crammed with bikes, gardening tools, and unpacked boxes from the last move or multilevel, color-coded ramps with stinky elevators -- were called garages.
And then, poof, the word just disappeared into that fuzzy blonde-haired head where all kinds of other mysterious and surprising things were brewing and would eventually emerge. Like fear at age 4 that the world might stop spinning and gravity would cease and all things would float away. Or worries about what the house was built of, and if it was wood, might termites eat it all away.
Now I'm not saying it wasn't my fault, because back then (before I knew better) everything was my fault. But it was awfully hot that afternoon and I did open the front door so we could get some breeze moving through the screened porch, and I might have forgotten to hook the latch on the screen door.
Because there I was cooking dinner, just like a good mom and wife, when my nosy next-door neighbor, retired Fred, came inside and asked me if I knew that my toddler was walking down the block headed toward busy France Avenue.
Shot through with enough adrenaline to lift a garage and two cars, I bolted out the door, terrified that I'd lost my little one forever. I flew down the street in the direction I thought he might have taken. Horrific scenarios played through my head as I rounded the corner of 54th street to see cars whipping by one block ahead at France Avenue.
And then it dawned on me.
I got to the corner of France and 54th and looked to my right.
There, barefoot and standing in a droopy diaper, was my little RockStar with his nose and forehead pressed against the plate glass window of a Jiffy Lube Oil Change.
I ran up to him, threw my arms around the little urchin, unsure whether to scold him or shriek with relief.
He smiled at me with his big blue eyes, drool shining his perfect little chin. Then he pointed inside, and with unadulterated joy, he exclaimed:
Epilogue: The mystery continues. The obsession apparently had nothing to do with what gets parked inside garages. To this day he still doesn't have a driver's license. Not that he couldn't. Apparently, it just never interested him. Now rocks, on the other hand . . .
Image 1 by heathbrandon
Image 2 by aur2899
Image 3 by emdot
Image 4 by Thomas Hawk