Thursday, August 26, 2010

On those inflatable noodly balloon things on air blowers, and life

Every day we pass a nondescript strip mall. It has a Chinese take-out, a school enrichment program, a dry cleaner, a coffee shop. It has one of those state-run beer and wine and deli stores that are particular to Maryland. It has two of those inflatable waving advertisements shaped vaguely biomorphically, seizing in the air currents so that we might be inspired to SHOP HERE!

They inspire me to think: what a dingy plaza. And sometimes they inspire me to think: what a waste of electricity and also, close up, those generators must be so loud.

They inspire L plainly. She yells each afternoon: Look! It's the red and white mans! They're waving to me! Every single day, L calls a friendly hello and waves to her red man and her white man. Her red and white mans.

Her way is undoubtedly better than my cynicism.


What do you think about life lists? Bucket lists? Those things you want to learn, those experiences you want to have? I have been thinking about my life list lately, inspired by the very inspiring Maggie Mason. She writes extensively about her life list and the power of saying out loud "This Is What I Want To Do" and then making that thing a real priority so that it actually happens. She has some great items on her list. Taste 1000 fruits? Right up my alley. Learn to roll in a kayak? I couldn't care less for myself, but a cool choice. Maggie (about whom let's be clear: she has no idea who I am) had an impressive online business and she recently sold it. In announcing so, she mentioned that one of her motivations for selling was to spend more time figuring out how to support everybody who wants to pursue their life lists. Since it seems to me that everything she contributes to is spectacular, I thought in that moment: I'm in. I have to write my life list.

And so I've begun doing so, and though I think the creation of the list itself must be, of necessity, an ongoing process, when I feel I have a good first draft I'll share it with you. A sampling: I want to learn how to make my own ketchup and mustard and mayonnaise. I want to master pie crusts and my digital camera. The lovely husband and I have discussed for years that when we retire, we want to rent an RV and spend a summer seeing one game in every MLB ballpark, and the rest of the country in between-game increments.

How about taking your space shuttle-loving husband and child to see a shuttle launch? Travel is an integral part of my life list. I have a good friend whose grandmother had a policy to take each grandchild, at the cusp of adolescence, on a special trip and the idea has influenced me to want to go one day, maybe when she's eleven or so, with E to Paris; with the other two, each in turn, to cities we'll identify as special to them as their interests become more articulated. That was quite a long sentence. Dreaming comes out so big, sometimes.


After waving to her mans forever, L hesitantly asked a question this week.

Mommy? Can we stop at the mans?
I want to touch them when they wiggle.

What do you think: can two-year-olds have life lists?

We drove into the parking lot we had never entered before. Ultimately L decided that the air blowers were too loud, and she didn't want to leave the protection of the car. But I got out, and I poked her mans for her. And then she and I, and her sister and her brother, we idled in the parking lot for a few minutes. We enjoyed their wiggle dancing and then we went home.

Just another weekday evening.

Just another dream come true.
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Lenae said...

"But I got out, and I poked her mans for her." -You are the best mom EVER :)

Bucket lists are fun, aren't they? Dreaming just is. I would totally be up for your RV/ballpark tour (my husband would die of happiness!) Also love the idea of taking the kids/grandkids on special solo trips; how memorable would that be?!

This post made my heart happy. And hey, you totally pulled off the noodly balloon thing without it being awkward!

This Heavenly Life said...

Oh no, you DI'INT!

Oh yes, you did, and you did it so much better than I would have thought possible.

There may be nothing better than fulfilling tiny weeknight dreams, spur-of-the-moment and haphazardly, as they so arise.

Dance on, noodly-mans.

Heather said...

Wow!! That was beautifully written and inspired by wiggly mans you've seen on the side of the road. I love your writing.

I am following you from Bloggy Moms. Would love for you to visit me too.

Mommy Only Has Two Hands!

Emily said...

I totally, wholeheartedly and completely support life lists!...and life list making...and life list DOING!!

And I love doing them with my kids (or at least with Katherine since Penelope's not quite old enough). Katherine's list has had me doing everything from renting lanes at the bowling alley to hunting for rainbows after a storm, and it's always an adventure. I can't wait to see what you come up with for YOUR list--and I'm so glad you stopped and poked those red and white mans!

What a wonderful post!

mindofgrace said...

My son was totally in love with his yellow mans. He called them his Boy Dancings. "Momma! Datsa Boy Dancing!" We frequently got asked to go visit them. They made us happy. We never bought anything at the stores though - and still haven't. But I remember their giant-inflatable-resource-sucking selves fondly.

Dreaming does come out so big sometimes. As it should. And toddlers can DEFINITELY have life lists. They just don't know it as such - that's our job. And demonstrating the fulfilling of them too - as you did.

Rock on, big dreaming Momma. Thanks for inspiring the rest of us to go out there and poke the scary wiggle mans too.