• Lijing Cobb

The arrest of the butt-butt

I had a pretty crummy few hours in the afternoon yesterday. It all started with having time to read a good book, and deciding to do that over lunch. Not a good idea. The reading lasted 2 & 1/2 hours, and so did the lunch. By the time I finally pulled myself away from the lunch/reading table, I was thoroughly repulsed by the way my body felt.

After completing a few chores and errands and keeping my feet as busy as I could, I still felt the same way. I had called my husband to complain that I was feeling lousy, and he offered me several possible explanations for my simultaneous listlessness and restlessness. Honestly, hubby, you tried, but it didn't really help. Not wanting to wallop in my misery by myself, I suggested to my kids that we take a hike to the reservoir, our favorite haunt, behind our house. They agreed.

Off we went. As we climbed the little rocky hill behind our house, I realized that it was going to be quite a challenge to complete this hike. It was cold, so it would be freezing when we get to the open area near the water with wind whipping. I was not dressed nearly warm enough for this temperature, because I was in a hurry to leave the house. There was ice on the ground, most of it crunchy, but at points frozen and very slippery. Oh boy, I thought, it'll be interesting.

On and on we pressed, a very familiar path that we've traversed hundreds of times. Last winter we had ventured out on the same path after a huge snowstorm, and despite almost 2 feet of snow we still made it to the reservoir and had a great time. Of course we could make it this time as well.

My two older kids had disappeared way ahead of me after about 2 minutes into our hike. My youngest one held onto my hand and told me to be careful, and went just ahead of me to scout out the slipperiness for me so that I could take precaution. What the heck! She's 7 years old and I'm supposed to be the mom here! But maybe the little, constant yelps I let slip from my lips gave me away? I'm not sure.

On and on we went. The normal 10 minute walk to the reservoir turned into forever. I comforted myself by focusing on the thought that the return journey would be much easier and faster. And the whole time I wondered, where the heck are my two older children? How did they disappear from eyesight and earshot so quickly? Is it not the same path we are on? Are they carried by wings instead of feet? Do they know a secret path only for kids?

One fall and many close calls later, my ginger steps finally moved me close enough to the water so that I could see and hear my two other children again, flying around and giggling loudly in the distance. They must have been playing in that spot for at least 20 minutes now. What the heck?

The wind, as I predicted, was whipping. I thought my ears might fall off. The wind pierced through the million tiny holes in my sorry winter jacket and sucked out the last bit of warmth from my body. My lips were frozen, and I couldn't feel my hands. I looked over at my kids, and they were dressed either the same amount or less. Their cheeks were rosy, and they had ear to ear grins on their faces. It's almost as if the slipperiness was creating their joy, the cold was adding fuel to it, and the wind was egging them on. The kids, the slipperiness, the cold, and the wind, they were all in a conspiracy, a secret factory manufacturing impossible joy.

I wanted some of that.

On our way back, I abandoned caution (well, as much as I could let go of my adultness). I wanted to find out the secret path that was open for my kids and get on it. Away they went, and I followed them. They led me into prickly short bushes followed by tall grasses. In order to keep up with them I started seeing more and more grass, leaves, and rocks instead of the ice, and I stepped on those instead of crunching ice. And then, when we came to a spot covered with solid ice, I saw the secret unfolding further in front of my eyes. The kids were sliding on the ice! Instead of avoiding it, they searched for it and jumped on it. Instead of dreading slipperiness, they were loving it.

And slipperiness, in turn, loved them back. When you give love, you get love back. It is so simple. That's their secret.

"Hey mom, would you like to be a barbarian and be captured by us?" My 10yo, wielding a short stick in her gloved hand, pointed at me, as I was trying to keep my eyes to the ground so as not to unfriend myself from the upright position.

"What does that mean?" I tried to make sense of the suggestion, dodging another patch of ice meanwhile.

"We are playing a barbarian game, and we can capture you. What do you think of the name Ag-tha?"

"Is that a barbarian name?" I continued my logical thinking.

"Yes! Or if you don't like it, maybe Chandler?" Her giggles were endless. What is so funny?

"Chandler is not a barbarian name. Plus, it's for a boy!" Oh sometimes grownups can be so stuffy and boring.

"Ok, so what would you like to be called?" She was all ears.

"How about butt-butt?" Literally how I felt that afternoon.

"Okay! Kids, mom is now butt-butt and she's our barbarian captive. March now, butt-butt, you are under arrest!"

I don't make any of these up. My butt-butt feeling was under arrest. My kids rescued me. By the time I chased my kids down the hill, back to the house, butt-butt was cast behind along with the wind and the cold.

If only I allow myself just once a day to fully immerse into the children's world, my soul is saved.

I ate too much mindlessly, therefore I felt like crap. Such was the logic of my pitiful grownup world.

Here is ice, so instead of walking today, we can slide! No more solid ground: look at how thick this ice is! We can dig for fish! Tall grass in my face and little pricklies on my pants, I was so fast! Such was the magic of the children's world, where nothing makes sense, but everything was perfect.

When we accept and embrace everything as it is, we are accepted and embraced in return.

When I wondered out loud to my 7yo on our journey back, "why is it that you guys are so fast and I'm so slow?" she had answered with the wisdom of her 7 years, "Mom, maybe that's because we are young and so much lighter than you are?"

Yep. We check in for the flight of life with more and more baggages as we age. On our first flight we had none.

But I don't want to be heavy. I would like to stay light. I would like to continue to be invited to play the barbarian game, and hear the declaration, "Here you are, butt-butt, you are under arrest, barbarian!!"

Hello fun!

Where are you fish?

The spot where I fell because I was not light enough.

I crawled into the kids' stick fort so my 10yo could bite me.

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