Letting Go of His “Me-Doll”… an Apocalyptic Lesson From Preschool

Today’s the day. The end of the world is upon us, and I want my last blog post…ever…to be an attempt to tie things all together.

Doomsdayer: “The end is here.”

ME (whose last preschooler finished school yesterday): “I know, I know. Isn’t it so sad?”

Doomsdayer: “The world is coming to an end.”

ME (still thinking about my own life): “It sure does feel like that. You know, I’m not as ready as I think I should be.”

Doomsdayer: “You need to repent.”

ME: “Repent? Oh, I hadn’t really thought of that.  What should I be sorry about?  Well, I guess I am sorry for a few things that happened along the way. There were plenty of mistakes made as the kids made their way through preschool, but I tried to learn from them.  Like Big Sprout’s “Me-Doll”.  Have you seen that thing?”

Doomsdayer:  “It is an Apocalypse!”

ME: “Apocalypse?  It’s bad, but that might be a bit extreme? I suppose if we talk about the “Me Doll” as an apocalyptic revealing of truth.  It most certainly was.

Here’s the story:

Big Sprout was assigned a Me-Doll project when he was four years old.  I have always been the stickler for school assignments and I read it literally:

1) Lay your child on the large piece of butcher paper.

2) Trace around his/her body and then cut it out.

3) Let your child draw him or herself and bring it back to school by Friday.

I started the project on Wednesday, because I knew my active and craft-hating, oldest son was going to complete this project, but begrudgingly.

Wednesday we traced and cut and then Thursday afternoon, I laid his paper version of himself out on a piece of carboard and presented it to him with a bucket of crayons and markers.

He started with the black marker and drew a pair of beady eyes that matched his little dot nose.  He put a great big beaming smile, a tuft of hair and a few toes.

He took out the yellow and drew the start of a shirt, but then he went back to the black marker. He put on his nipples and belly-button, and then…he took out the blue marker.

I smiled, proudly, as he drew more of his shirt and went down to what would have been the outside of his leg. Remembering what was likely the most important self-discovery of that year for him, he then drew on his blue genitalia.

My smile shifted to shock as I watched his little hand work and the blue balls take form.

I was left speechless as my art-exhausted son jumped to his feet and declared,

“I’m done!”

He ran out of the room completely satisfied with his rendition of himself, and I sat– stunned.

How was I going to carry in a blue-balled, naked me doll to be hung in the halls of the Catholic preschool?

I knew better than to chastise his self-image, because it really was an appropriate view of himself.  The problem was, it was not appropriate wall-art for a preschool.

I showed his dad, when he got home from work.

“What the hell is that?” he asked.

“It’s our son. Or at least his best attempt at an artistic expression of himself,” I tried to convince myself.

“He can’t take THAT to school,” he pointed.

“I know, but he is done drawing for today, and I don’t want this to scar him,” I worried.

“Well, maybe I can get him to draw on some clothes tomorrow before school,” my husband softened.

It worked, Big Sprout saw our logic when we explained to him that even Me-Doll’s need to get dressed for school, so he got out the black marker again.

He scribbled on some clothes, added the stripes of what looked like a referee uniform, and off we went to the preschool unveiling. (internally apocalyptic for me!)

Astride on the arms of his classmate’s parents were the most elaborate me-dolls I had ever seen.  There were princesses and cowboys, superheroes and firefighters. Many of the dolls were three-dimensional and some had fabric and buttons!

I slowed my entrance as the limp referee sadly hung on my arm. I felt like the worst mother ever.

I had volunteered for the day, and as my punishment for being a pathetic mother, I was sentenced to hang all the me-dolls along the wall.

I pounded the staples into the wall. Felt my heart race with every doll hung, and I just knew Big Sprout was going to have to come to terms with my inadequacies.

He walked in from recess with his classmates and was overjoyed when he found himself among the wall-hangings. He bounded off smiling and proud of his presentation.  He was perfectly fine with his Me-Doll…just the way it was. That day I learned that I needed to be fine with his presentations too.

The origin of the word apocalypse includes the idea of uncovering…revealing.

Today marks the end of preschool for our family. It could be the end of the world too, but in case it’s not, it can still be a day for a triumph of good over evil.

Every phase of life offers such chances for victory…we just have to be willing to seek out the truth of the matter, and accept the presentations offered. The more raw, honest and revealing the offerings, the more important that acceptance is.

I am grateful for my revelations…and I want to be mindful of every one. All the way up to the very end.

Chickening Out

I swear on a stack of Bibles that this really happened to us tonight…because really, who can make this stuff up?

“What do you want for dinner?” I unenthusiastically ask.

“I don’t care. What do you want for dinner?” My husband echoes with indifference. “Do you feel like Chinese?”

“No!” The biggest yells from the backseat, “I just had Japanese for lunch.”

“I want a restaurant.” The littlest voice pipes in from her car seat.

“You just want chicken nuggets…and we have some of those at home.“ I point out.

“No, I want a restaurant,” she insists.

“What are you going to order at the restaurant?” I query.

“I want…(dramatic pause) chicken nuggets.” She answers honestly.

So, the decision is made that my husband and I are going to get something for us and we would cook nuggets for the kids at home. We pass a sign on the highway for a chicken joint that we used to frequent, years ago, but we often laughed about the fact that they never really had the chicken that we ordered.

“We’d like the 8-piece chicken meal, mostly drumsticks please.” My husband yells out the window.

“Spicy or mild,” the box squawks.

“Mild, please.”

“So 3-piece chicken meal?”

“No, 8-piece meal with mostly drumsticks please.”

“A 2-piece meal?”

“No,” he looks over baffled at me as I try to stifle my giggles. “An 8-piece meal with mild drumsticks.” He enunciates.

“Come to the window please.” The frustrated woman requests.

As we drive around the corner, we cannot help but to laugh at how ridiculous that attempt at a fast-food order was. We get to the window and the woman pulls on her headset explaining that she cannot hear very well. We place our 8-piece order once again and she leaves the window for a minute.

“We only have 3 pieces of chicken right now. It will be 12 minutes for the rest of the order.” She explains.

“I think we should just go get something else.” I lean toward the car window to say.

My husband thanks me for making the decision to abandon the ill-fated trip to the chicken restaurant that too frequently does not have chicken, and we belly laugh all the way back to the highway. As entertaining as our attempt to get chicken was, we are back to our dilemma of needing to find some food for dinner. We head toward our temporary condo home and eventually decide on another fast food restaurant that is one of our favorites. It is known for its chicken bols and burritos and we get excited about our change of craving.

The kids and I stay in the car as my husband heads in with my order. I find myself talking with the kids and I realize that my husband has been gone longer than would be expected. I glance toward the door and I don’t see him headed toward the car, but I note that there are a lot of people in the restaurant. I chat a little longer with the kids and then, sans husband, I look back at the door and I find him silhouetted by one of the windows.

I joke with my oldest, “If they are out of chicken, I will absolutely die.”

Several more minutes pass and eventually my husband emerges with a bag of food and a look of utter disbelief.

He shakes his head as he gets back in the car, saying, “Well, I’m not sure what we’ve got in here, but the good news is, I didn’t pay a dime for it. Unbelievably, they ran out of chicken.”

“What? You have got to be kidding! That is nuts!” I laugh.

My husband told me that he had ordered our dinner and when it was apparent that they were not going to have enough chicken for our order, the restaurant employee offered my husband beef instead, and now, completely out of principle, he told the worker that we were really planning on being able to have chicken for dinner. After he was told that he would have to wait ten minutes, the manager informed my husband that our dinner would be free, and for all the effort that we went through for our chicken, it only seems right.