Monday, October 24, 2016

Water Moose Crossing

"Look, everyone! There's a water moose with horns at Mr. Randy’s.” 

Conner pointed to our next-door neighbor’s back pasture, and then went back to calmly digging in the sandbox. Conner was four.

The adult faction of my family sat on the back porch in the state of semi-stupor typical of our kind on the weekends. We watched Conner and the other grandchildren as they frolicked about the yard. We were hoping for a few moments of relative calm and possibly quiet—also no immediate need for moving any large muscles.

“What honey? What did you say?”

He pointed again and repeated himself. No one moved. No one twitched. No large muscles contracted. 

Here’s what we were hoping he said: “Garble, larple! There’s . . . some-wa-thing . . . garble with ha morns.” Nonsense, that required no adult action.

What we were afraid he actually said: “I need apple juice in a special sippy cup made of hammered gold, a snack that you’ll have to cook in a wok, my backpack that’s been lost for a month in Siberia, or the special bug jar from the attic.”

What we pretended he said: “How cute, he sees a bug.”

What we said (in a condescending adult way): “What did you say Conner? Did you find a bug, honey?” 

What Conner actually said, again: “I see it,” he said, pointing harder. “It’s a water moose with horns.” 

We looked at each other (parents, grandparents, and assorted relatives) and debated the possibilities, watching for signs that one of us was about to crack and get up off our big butts to go figure out if we were, in fact, being invaded by marauding water moose. 

“I think he’s seen a water bug.”

“He’s just pretending about something.”

“He’s playing.”

“He has sand in his mouth.”

“Maybe one of us should check it out?”

No one moved. No one twitched. Conner pointed and raised one eyebrow at us with the regal disdain of a four-year old.

“Oh for Heaven’s sake; I’ll go check.” I cracked and stood up. I’m always the first to crack and everyone knows it. They depend on it.

I walked up the gentle slope of the septic tank and looked for a water moose in our neighbor’s back pasture. Conner wandered over, standing next to me. Sure enough, a creature three parts gristle, six parts rawhide, and one part bovine had managed to jump a fence and wade through a designated wet lands area to forage and trespass. Chewing placidly, the old cow meandered around Mr. Randy’s property. Brown with a white blazed face, the old cow raised her head, displaying a hefty set of horns.

“You see?” Conner asked.

Conner looked up at me, trusting me to see the truth of it, knowing that I would. I gave him a quick nod. He smiled, winked and gave me a thumb’s up. 

“Is there something there?” Some lazy grownup punk from the porch called.

“Sure. It’s a water moose with horns,” I called out. 

“Yep.” Conner nodded in companionship and agreement and then went back to the sandbox.

The water moose shook its horns at the sound of our voices and bolted. She waded back through the swamp hole and jumped the fence to become, nothing more or less, than a fat old cow with a sway back and tired udders.

My grandchildren never let ignorance of a thing hold them back. If they don’t know what to call something, they make it up. If they don’t understand, they ask. If they don’t have an answer, they do their best to figure one out. 

“Zoe, why is the sky blue?” Conner asked.

Stroking her little brother’s cheek, the way she had seen her mother do, Zoe gave it her best shot.

“Because Conner, blue is your favorite color, and Heavenly Father knows that it’s your favorite color, and so he made the sky blue—for you.”

And grownups think they have all the answers. I wouldn’t be too sure about that.

Linda (Water Moose Crossing Guard) Zern

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