On Saturday we set out on the hour-and-a-half drive to retrieve Imogene from the Apple Store. J, who had been pressing his right index finger to his cheekbone as if to indicate a toothache the night before, was so happy that we were heading to the mall that he was calling out COW, SHEEP, HORSE all the way there. Whatever was bothering him the previous night had dissipated; I am sure he bit on an Altoid at the wrong angle, but he IS going to the dentist next Monday.
Dada and TGG were at the movies when J seemed to complain about his tooth. It is important to say “seemed to complain” because J doesn’t really complain about such things in the usual fashion. There is no hemming or hawing, there is no sighing or yelping. A full-fledged complaint from J involves curling up in a corner, crying and hitting his head, so the “pressing a finger against a cheekbone” is merely an indication that something should be looked at, and I did…out came the flashlight, and J made his half-assed attempt at cooperating. Half-assed means that when other kids say AAAAAAAAAH, J says ah. You have to be quick and have excellent vision, otherwise you will have to observe from a distance and ascertain severity through the Scientific Method. Empirical proof will be scant…and it will cost you money to get any more than you can gather from the ah.
Dada and TGG had been so giddy and enthused (as if they were children on a sugar-high) when they left to watch Skyfall that I felt bad about telling them to stop and search for liquid Tylenol. Nothing deflates the joy and machismo of having watched “the…BEST…Bond…EVER!!!!!!!” like “your kid might have a toothache.” Liquid Tylenol that is not geared for children is hard to come by, and none was found. We spent the whole night waiting for a complaint to issue from J’s room, but instead we got an early morning expedition to the basement (after coming to close our door so he could sneak away “undetected) to find cereal.
Since J’s mood was good and he was not complaining, we set off to the mall. Our plan had been to leave home at nine in order to be there by 10:30. The best laid plans of mice and men, as usual, went awry and we didn’t leave home until almost ten. Finding a parking spot once we got there was a chore we had forgotten how to do; lest we forget, it has been 8 years since we frequented a flourishing, active, actually-populated-with retailers-and-customers mall. That everyone had to use the restroom was an added level of difficulty. We ended up parked in the farthest spot of an unpopulated area, a matter that was moot when we left an hour later: cars had accumulated around us quite quickly.
We used a different entrance than the one from the previous visit. No sooner had we stepped in that J, walking at a fast clip towards the restrooms, noticed The Disney Store. He didn’t slow down; he didn’t stop; he didn’t give any indication that he had any plans of going there. After regaining our composure post-hour-and-a-half car trip, Dada and I retrieved Imogene (and took her back to the car,) while the kids had an early lunch. We then all went to Sears to find pants for TGG. J waited patiently. J waited happily. J waited until we said “ok, we’re done…let’s head home!” J then took control of the situation and steered us towards The Disney Store.
People were looking at us. J’s giggling, as I’ve mentioned, is contagious. J’s boundless enthusiasm, it must be pointed out, tends to suffuse everyone. Strangers were watching us and joining in with J’s giggles and bounces. I don’t just mean little kids who saw him and started hopping about saying things like “mommy, daddy, mommy, daddy!!!!” I mean also adults who looked at J and felt compelled to smile; this was not the awkward smile that is elicited by seeing an oddly garbed person acting in an inappropriate-for-his-age way, but rather the “I don’t know why I’m suddenly feeling happy” smile that gives you a little spring in your step.
J made his way, giggling and bouncing all the way, to the back of the store where he suddenly stopped and turned around slowly, taking in the wonder of it all. If you’ve never been to a Disney Store, this place is rafters to floors “Disney-threw-up-in-here” chock full of merchandise. There isn’t a single Disney Princess, Disney character, Disney movie that isn’t represented. Many years ago, J fit into the Disney pajamas and the Disney slippers…he has grown way past that, of course, but…Disney plushes are for EVERYONE!!!!
Up on shelf, looking demure yet sassy, sat Minnie Mouse. J’s finger pointed up and a collective “oh, no, no, no…no way, you’re out of your mind” issued from the three grown-ups that were envisioning an altogether too big plush being crammed into J’s bedroom for no apparent good purpose. J’s shoulders slumped and his lips pursed. As if activated by springs, all three adults moved about the store floor pointing out more viable options: a new thermal cup, smaller plushes… Everyone, of course, was looking at price tags. The only thing more expensive than The Disney Store is a Disney Park, but not by much.
Then we found it: 2 for $22!!! We pointed the display to J who, leaping like a ballet corps member in the middle of The Nutcracker, approached the shelves and found Minnie Mouse, albeit dressed in pink. Nothing else appealed to him. No Dory, no Grumpy, no Woody, no Mater…nothing. We looked around desperately, and then we found another one: 2 for $16!!!! Smaller, of course, but still…there was Minnie Mouse, dressed both in pink and RED!!!! Bingo!!!! And, a little further back was Daisy Duck!!!!!! SOLD!!!!!!!!
I don’t know what the cashier thought. I am sure she wondered if we were making these purchases for some birthday party we were attending. J grabbed the bag, thanked her profusely and, laughing like a person who’s just discovered something fantastic, bounced out of the store. We didn’t look back. We just got in the car and, through the rearview mirror, observed J looking into the bag to make sure that, yes!!!, he had Minnie and Daisy with him. He sang along to Katy Perry’s Firework, Madonna’s Borderline, The Eagles’ Hotel California…and he hugged the shopping bag. As soon as we got home, he bounded up the stairs and introduced Minnie and Daisy to Ann, who had been left sitting in the middle of his bed earlier that morning.
He’s off to school now, and he’s left his harem behind. Ann sits in the middle and slightly above the other two, and Minnie and Daisy are flanked by boxing gloves. We know it’s weird. We know it’s odd. We know people don’t get it. What does this mean? I don’t know. I’m just glad he’s happy. I’m just glad he takes Ann, Minnie and Daisy to the basement, sits them on the couch next to him or the rocking chair facing him, and they keep him company.
I am guessing, then, that we -the grown-ups in the household- are just as weird and odd and hard to understand as J is…
So be it!