We walked into my room. I don’t like the light! I like the dark! I turned off the lamps and we settled into the big bed. M had already vacated it for the morning and so we lay there, a purple diagonal and a still-dripping diagonal in the comfy, blue square. I tried to position my towel under my wet hair but she objected; it interfered with her comfort on my pillow.
(We were sharing a pillow. The other four pillows on that bed are just. no. good.)
All was quiet. I hoped she’d fall back asleep. I worried I’d fall back asleep. I reached for more blanket.
Mama? What are we going to do when we wake up?
True Mom Confession: I had worried about falling asleep again, but also I had hoped. A little extra sleep? Blame the cute snuggly sad kid?
“Well, we’ll get dressed. And we’ll get ready for work and for school.”
But I DON’T WANNA GO TO SCHOOL!
Um. Uh-oh. The kid never not-wants to go to school. “Sweet girl, what’s wrong? Did something happen?”
“Could you say that again, love?”
I said: NOTHING HAPPENED! NOTHING! NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING!
“Hey, love? Do you still feel the bad feelings from the dream?”
The not-nice is still inside me!
“Maybe you need a distraction.”
What’s a dis-track-shin? I don’t know that word.
"It’s something that makes you think about something else so you forget about the things you’re thinking right now. So maybe you would feel better if you got a book to read, or watched a TV show…” …or did anything independently so I could dry my cold, wet body?
You could hold my hand and tell me a story would be a very good dis-track-shin, I think.
Ahh, yes. 6:23am is indeed storytime. This is her version, I’m thinking, of ‘it’s 5:00 somewhere…’
“What kind of story should I tell?”
Tell me why Jack bumped his head.
And this, dear reader, brings us to The True Unauthorized Account of Jack and Jill. It is an epic tale in five parts. In the beginning, Jack takes a bit of a tumble when he slips on some melting snow. This detail once begged the question: is it winter in the story? Or springtime? As such, because the three-year-old mind is a Minde Seeking Clarifications and Specifics and Truthes, there follow also The Story of Spring; The Story of Summer; The Story of Fall, and The Story of Winter.
There once was a lovely little boy Jack, and his best friend was a kind-hearted girl named Jill. Jack lived with his family in a small house in the village, and Jill lived with her family in a small house filled with big windows at the top of a hill. And every day that their mommies said they could play together, Jack would run out of his house and to the end of his street and up the winding path up the hill to see his friend Jill. And Jill would wait at the windows, and call his name. Sometimes she threw flowers down on his head as he climbed, so he’d arrive in a rainbowed rain of petals. Sometimes she sang songs on the breeze, so the wings of music lifted him to her. And sometimes, because they were good friends who loved each other very much, she’d make surprises for him and he would love every surprise. Sometimes she’d hide behind a door and jump out at him. Because he loved her so much, he’d pretend to be frightened. Sometimes she’d bake him cookies so smells of warmth and yumminess helped him climb. And even if he’d just had breakfast, he’d pretend to be hungry. Sometimes she’d set up games that they could play.===
One day, on a bright sunny morning, Jill was waiting for her friend Jack to arrive. Jill was gathering the last of the season’s snow from the pale grass. She was building a pile of snowballs for them to stage a snow game with later. But two important things happened that day. First, the sun was just a little warmer than it had been the day before. And second, Jack was just a little later than when he usually began his climb. (His mommy had asked him to clean up his toys before he left.) So as Jill waited for her friend and the sun climbed higher in the sky, a small trickle of snowmelt began running down the hill.
Jack was almost up to Jill’s house when the snowmelt met the pale grass under his feet. And he slipped! Jack went tumbling back down the hill. Jill heard his cries and threw herself after him, somersaulting down until they found themselves at the bottom, out of breath and muddy. [Ed. note: this is not unlike the scene in The Princess Bride when Buttercup pushes the Dread Pirate Roberts down the embankment, hears his cry: “aaaaaaaaas youuuuuuuu wiiiiiiiiiish,” and realizes that he is in fact her beloved Westley. She throws himself after him in a heap.]
At the bottom, Jill realized that Jack had a bad boo-boo on his forehead. So she helped him to the front porch of the nearest house, which just happened to belong to
Old Dame Dob, the very best boo-boo kisser and bandaid-maker in town. She had a
secret recipe. She made all of her bandaids with vinegar and brown paper and then she decorated them so all the kids could always choose their favorite designs. Jill and Old Dame Dob helped Jack pick a nice Spiderman bandaid for his forehead, and just for that day only, they decided it would be best to play at Jack’s house instead of Jill’s.
But on that first fateful telling, the critic grumbled and groused. Was that in the winter or spring? And: Mama! That’s not a good story because where’s the pail???
Do you know what’s the best part about living in a house at the top of the hill when springtime comes? The well fills deep with cool snowmelt water. And! You can see all the trees around you! So you can be the first to see the signs of spring! And that is just what Jill wanted to do. So she invited Jack up to her house on the hill to look for signs of spring…===
Well, so tell me the Story of Summer! she then demanded.
Do you know what’s the best part about living in a house at the top of the hill when summer comes? The valleys all around you fill with fireflies. And that was just was Jill wanted to watch. So she invited her dear friend Jack up to her house at the top of the hill so they could watch the fireflies…===
What happens in the Story of Fall? the critic wondered.
Do you know what’s the best part about living in a house at the top of the hill when fall comes? You can watch all the leaves change to beautiful colors. Like purple! Yes, some leaves turn purple. And some turn red, and some turn orange, and and some more turn purple! And some more turn purple. And so, each year, as soon as Jill noticed the first leaves beginning to change colors, she invited her friend Jack to come up to her house at the top of the hill. She wanted his company to go on nature walks and collect beautiful leaves…===
So? ‘So,’ what, my love? So, what happens in the Story of Winter?
Do you know what’s the best part about living in a house at the top of the hill when winter comes? The sledding!! Every year, as soon as the first snows fell, Jill would invite her friend Jack to come play on the top of the hill. And together they would slide down-down-down, and climb up-up-up. And slide down-down-down, and climb up-up-up. And then when they were too cold to sled they’d go inside and Jill’s mommy would make them hot CHOCOLATE! How do you always remember that line? Because I LOVE hot CHOCOLATE!===
On most tellings, I ask E to pick one chapter for me to tell. On this morning and in the spirit of dis-track-shin, I told the Whole Unabridged True Unauthorized Account of Jack and Jill. The clock wound towards E's natural waking time and E wound towards cheerful. When I finished, she sat up and said, I want to wear my new purple dress to school today!
It was a good moment, a MamaSuccess, only slightly tempered when I sat up to join her in uprightness and saw, in the mirror, the haha-funny shape in which my hair had dried.