Eleven years ago, National Big Swirlee was born on Thanksgiving Day. During my pregnancy, I was so concerned that something was wrong, even though my OB/GYN assured me that everything was perfectly fine. Big Swirlee barely moved—unlike his brother who spent twenty-three hours a day running around like he was on a gerbil wheel—and I couldn’t help but worry. When he was finally born, I had a lot to be thankful for. He was, in fact, perfectly fine. We spent his first Thanksgiving in the hospital surrounded by friends and family. It was a sweet magical time that set me up for the big fat okie doke.
Around six-months-old, my calm baby, who barely moved around, was replaced with a boy who couldn’t sit still if you gorilla glued and duct taped his butt to a bouncy seat. Once he started crawling, he was all over the place. He was a now-you-see-me-now-you-don’t baby. He hardly ever took a nap and stayed up all night talking and laughing to himself.
There is never a dull moment when Big Swirlee is around. Whenever I look at my son or touch his soft cheek, my heart flutters. For a tenth of a second, I’m transported to a place where nothing valuable ever breaks, and I’m not a broken record screeching, “Stop dunking basketballs in the house!” I’m usually snapped back to reality when the prophetic words of my mother pop into my head, “I hope you have a child that acts just like you do.”
To a kid, that sounds pretty cool. Because you think you’re great, so having a kid just like you would be awesome! It’s not that I was a bad kid, on the contrary, I was great. I got straight A’s, I was nice to people, and I respected my elders, except my eighth grade teacher Sister Katherine. She was mean to me, so I had to teach her a lesson. Trust me, she had it coming. But that’s a different blog post.
I was always up to something, and there was no telling what it would be. When I was eight, I sold some of my toys to a girl in my neighborhood. Then I convinced her to let me store the toys—for a fee—at my house, so whenever she came over to play, her toys would be there waiting for her. When my mom found out, she not only made me give the money back, but I had to give up the toys! The woman obviously didn’t appreciate my entrepreneurial spirit.
Big Swirlee is also a handful. Fortunately, my shyster gene skipped a generation, and I don’t have to worry about him hustling the neighborhood kids out of their allowances. He’s a great little boy, and I love him dearly. My son is also my mother’s hope in the flesh. He’s funny, smart, kind, compassionate and full of life. And like me, he talks a lot—I mean a lot. He said his first word at six month, and I swear that boy hasn’t stopped talking since.
When Big Swirlee was two, I took him and his brother to storytime at the public library. We went every week to hear a story and watch a puppet show without incident, and there was no reason for me to think this particular day would be any different. A full moon must have been on the horizon, because my youngest son was in rare form. He stood when he was supposed to sit and sat when everyone else was standing. He knew the story the librarian was reading, so he recited it out loud as she read from the book. He barely spoke English, and every word started with the letter D. Whenever the Dery Dungry Dadadiller ate something, Big Swirlee would shout it out. Everything from “dapple” to “dockit dake.”
He was so darn cute, so I really couldn’t get too mad at him. After a while, he started taking off his clothes because it was “doo dot din dere,” and I knew it was time to go. When I reached to pick him up, he ran off and right out of his little shorts. And there he was, standing in the middle of the library slapping his fat stomach like he was playing belly bongos. He was out of control! My man looked like a saggy-diaper Budha!
By the time I got to the car, I was done with that little boy. But my irritation melted away as I strapped him into his car seat. Big Swirlee patted my cheek and said, “Dello, Dommy.” He’d forgotten all about the scene he cause in the library and was just so happy to be close to his dommy.
I knew at that moment my mom’s hope for me was a blessed curse. No matter how frustrating motherhood can be, it’s those tender moments that make it all worthwhile. That is until you find your college-educated, formerly professional self face down in a porcelain bowl after your three-year-old son flushed a couple of Power Ranger down the toilet to see if they could swim.
Thanks a lot, Mommy.
With Christmas just around the corner, I want to wish you and your family a wonderful and blessed holiday. I’ll leave you with the best Christmas card of all time.
Big Mony Merchandice and National Big Swirlee circa December 2006
The Christmas card said, “Keeping It Real For Christmas With The Gaskins!”