The Gingerbread Boy Resurfaces (#391)

“Yallow school bus!”

Charlie woke at 6am saying that, eyes shining. He finished the new Noah’s Ark puzzle he had started yesterday and danced back and forth in Grandpa’s yard after he had carefully placed his napkin-wrapped breakfast on the mailbox. (I don’t think he is “supposed” to eat on the bus but no one has said anything, yet.) It was a full day in heatwave temperatures: School, pool, shopping, bike ride as the sun was going down. I poured out a big glass of lemonade for Jim; Charlie came into the kitchen and drank most of it.
After all that—-good exercise on one of the hottest days of the year along with the 6am waking-up time—it seemed likely that Charlie would have been in slumberland soon after he jumped into bed at 9pm with a cheery “goo’ night!” He dropped his green squishy football on the floor. “You can’t find it,” I said.

“I can’t find it!” smiled Charlie.

Charlie is still working on saying complete sentences with nouns and verbs and direct objects; I do not require him to use anything like the correct verb tense or the right pronoun. And there, he had done it himself. Jim and I both heard Charlie’s sentence, and were thrilled.

And then Charlie—maybe catching our happy energy—-got the sillies and “beddtime,” which is usually a staightforward, if gradual, routine of tucking him in, turning out the light, and me sitting nearby while writing in my journal, took on more of a cat-and-mouse feel. Just as I stepped a foot in the other direction to check a load of laundry, I heard giggles at my back and a suspiciously undressed boy racing up the stairs. When I directed Charlie to put on his clothes and go back to bed, the giggles really began and all I had to do was, it seemed, to turn my head to find a laughing boy running up and away, like that Gingerbread Boy in the story Charlie used to love to hear, and to act out.

Charlie is rarely this “hyper” at the end of the day but, even as I was sitting in the hallway, I was adding up too many factors for bedtime sillies: the heat, the early waking-up (resulting in an over-tired boy), the sugary lemonade, a snitch of Grandpa’s pizza (Charlie being on the gluten-free casein-free diet and having celiac disease). Mention of anything—“yellow school bus tomorrow”—-brought more giggles and more attempts of the “mouse” to creep around.

Into forty minutes of this, I mentioned Charlie’s grandparents (on both sides) and there was a giggle then, suddenly, silence. And then a soft cry and a request for “daddy b’ue blanket” (one of the items that had been in the washing machine and was, by that time, in the dryer). In the space of a nanosecond, Charlie had gone from giddy sillyness to tears, as if, for him, there is no inbetween.

I felt bad that Charlie ended the day sad. I felt relieved that he was having the sillies, rather than (as had been the case in previous years) an angry tantrum that left everybody sweaty, hot, and very tearful. I went in to give him a kiss and a squeeze just as he was on the verge of sleep.
“You’ll see all your teachers tomorrow, and ride the yellow schoolbus, for sure.”

Daddy’s blue blanket (still a bit damp from the dryer) wrapped tightly around him, Charlie said,

“Yallow school bus. Goo night! School-bus. Bus.”

Good night, Gingerbread Charlie.

One Response to “The Gingerbread Boy Resurfaces (#391)”
  1. Julia says:

    One of mine is either sunshine or storm, no in-between, and can go rapidly from one to the other, although storm to sunshine is difficult when he’s very tired. He’s sunshine more of the time than storm, so he can be a very pleasant child. I just don’t understand him as well as I do my other two.

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