Well, for some reason Squints thought the living room floor
would be a suitable place to store his retainer. And, of course, Filibuster found it with her
foot and snapped it in two with a sickening crunch.
Squints called the orthodontist, inquired about the cost
about a replacement. “We don’t have that
kind of money hanging around, Squints,” I said, thinking about the four new
tires on my husband’s car. “You’re going
to have to help pay for it.”
He frowned. “I don’t
have a job.”
“You’re going to have to work it off.” And suddenly, Squints’ pocket money; the
money he makes from moving the lawn every week, has disappeared.
This afternoon, after spending four hours outside with his
father, Squints came in and sighed heavily.
“I’m tired, Mom.” He sighed
again; wiped the sweat from his brow. “You
tired?” He watched me writing for a
moment. “No. You’re probably not tired. I’ve been working.” He hee-hawed and blustered and puffed about
all he’d done.
I ignored him.
My parents have this term they use—fluffing. It comes from an
old Hi and Lois comic where Hi takes his wife around the yard, showing her all
he accomplished that day. Lois looks at
the reader then says that men are like pillows: Every so often they need
My husband came in and stretched, yawning loudly. He puffed about the house, narrating his work
from every window. “Look at those
gardens! Look at that lawn! Wow!”
I shut down my computer and headed outside to fluff.
After the chores were done for the day, I took the pocket
knife my husband recently gave me and went to the back porch. A limb fell from one of our trees last week: I
had plenty of wood to work with.
The door opened. “Whatcha
Squints watched me for a few moments. “Can I
“Sure.” I handed him the
wood; handed him the knife. And as I
watched him scrape the bark from the tree, I told him about my Great Uncle Ora Mac. I don’t remember Ora Mac speaking much. But I do remember his whittled animals, which
he would sign along the side in shaky blue pen.
I watched the wood reveal itself as Squints peeled away the
bark beneath the blade. The wood was clean
and new. “Looks good,” I said, fluffing
again, I suppose. “What do you think you’ll
“I don’t know, he said, his mind focused intently upon the
task. “Maybe a bull.”
And I realized then that whittling, like writing, require a faith in the unknown. When you
write, you string words together, not quite knowing if…or how…the words will
come together. And when you whittle, you
strip away pieces of wood, not knowing what lies just beneath.
There is a gift in stories.
There is a gift in wood.
There is a gift in whittling and appreciating the work of
And even though Squints doesn’t believe me when I tell him
this, there's even a gift in paying for retainers snapped in two.
This has been linked with Yeah, Write.
Labels: Creative non-fiction, essays, Raising Children