The Kind Of Snake I’d Like to Be When I’m Not a Mammoth

By | October 6, 2011

It’s after school. We’re driving to the big library downtown. In the back, the boys are reading (Tony) and munching on the rest of his lunch sandwich (Sasha). It is one of those picture perfect end-of-September afternoons. The air is still crisp yet at this hour one could say that it was softened into submission by the sun.

We park by the big round building with the appearance of a coliseum that has “Please come in” written all over it. If you haven’t seen this landmark building in Vancouver (and if of course you’re not on the other side of the planet at the moment, not that that would be necessarily be a hindrance, stranger things have happened) you have to make your way there. It’s a good place to be.

There is a piazza, you see, covered and abounding with coffee shops and eateries, and not the fast, pack-an-artery/have-a-sugar-crash-shortly type. People are reading, staring, eating, chillin’… We walk in and go straight to the kids’ section. Sasha’s interest these days revolves around reptiles and prehistoric life. Tony wanders and finds treasures to feed his newly discovered Harry Potter passion.

We then go on an escalator joyride (is where you go up and down just because and then you do it again, despite people staring at you). A by-passer throws me a “You know that can get you all nauseous?”. Nah, I shrug, thinking he should’ve seen the Budapest subway escalator plunging all the way to the centre of the Earth and back up again.

An armful of books later we wade through the river of people and drive back across the bridge to the laid-back life on the other side. Traffic wraps around us like caramel. The boys look through an oversized book of snakes they got from the library.
“If you were a snake what kind of snake would you be, Mom?” There’s not an ounce of jest in Sasha’s voice. He means it. Well, a yellow one, I say. “I’d be a black and red one,” he says. Tony picks black, red, yellow and blue. We talk about camouflage and poisonous snakes. They’re good with being poisonous as snakes. I settle for a mellow corn snake. I think of snakes driving a car and the idea slithers into my head for a future project, pun intended, of course.

“Can we stop at the beach?” Can’t pass by the beach without stopping, and today’s dry sand and sunny skies make it an obligation. We go to the beach. We eat dates and play Cro-Magnon. I’m a mammoth. Tony’s a saber-tooth tiger but he takes too long to succumb to the hands of Cro-Magnon Sasha and the little Cro-Magnon has a fit.

There’s fighting, laughing and crying hanging like little bats onto the boys, there’s tears and screaming, and then, there’s me. Just sitting in the golden-glowing sand of Jericho beach at dusk and thinking that hungry kids and Cro-Magnon games just don’t mix well. We head home to have dinner and bedtime finds us reading more about… well, Cro-Magnons. We look through the snake book because there is this black snake I am told I have to see. Tomorrow I’ll look for the yellow one.

Later on after bedtime hugs and kisses Tony whispers “You’re so precious, Mom.” I am ready to say “Oh, no, you see, I am not perfect…” but I bite my tongue. He did not say that I am perfect, he really did not mean it that way. The way I see it, perfect means fault-free. Well, I’m far from that.

Precious means real and it means loved. Faults and all. I hug him tight and then my teary eyes and I tippy toe out the door. The house is quiet and dark. It’s my quiet writing time, so I make tea and write and I can almost hear my heart sigh a sleepy happy sigh as it cuddles up with two sleepy boys. If I were to paint it using just one color, I would not use perfect but precious. Just like sunlight, the latter has the whole spectrum.

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