Winter to Summer
It doesn't help that the kids grow so darn fast. J.J., at 8 months, will wear the T-shirts Richie wore last summer as a 3 year old. Johnny's shirts from last year would be halter tops on him. But I don't remember any time passing, just moments.
A red and white striped shirt with a blue collar has chocolate stains down the front. Johnny wore it last year on the weekend of July 4 for the first time. We were on our way to my aunt Mo and uncle Dan's farm and drove into some rain in Olathe. Thinking we'd drive through it, we kept going until it was raining so hard that Justin couldn't see the road. We pulled over with all the other cars and I thought we must be in the path of a tornado. The wind batted us back and forth. I called my parents, who were almost to the farm and had pulled off on a country road. Go back, they said. But it was too late. I tuned the radio to different stations, but none had the weather. T.V. stations break in to your favorite show to report a microblast in Iowa, but radio stations won't interupt "Oops I Did it Again" to simply let you know if you're going to die or not.
Richie and J.J. were asleep in the back seat, but Johnny started to cry. "Is it a tornado?" he asked. Now where would he have gotten that idea? It couldn't be because his mother was yelling at the dj, "Is it a tornado or not, you jackass?" and telling his daddy never to let her take the children out of the house again without their lifejackets and bike helmets on.
Still I said, "No. Of course it's not a tornado. The radio would tell us if there was a tornado. Because (under my breath) the radio is so god---- helpful."
The rain died down for a minute and Justin eased us back onto the highway to the next turnaround, where Johnny said he wished our car was Herbie so that it could cut through the field to get us home. Well, it would have to be a lot of fields, but I said that yes, that would do the trick. Safe at home, we watched James and the Giant Peach and ate fudgecicles, hence the chocolate down the shirt. We also found out that meanwhile, on the farm, my cousin Kevin had to hold onto a tree in order to not be blown away by the wind, people were down on their knees saying the Hail Mary, and a roof blew off a building that they were going to use as shelter from the storm. But everyone survived and there wasn't actually a tornado. Just wind. And flying roofs.
More importantly, no one got to see how cute Johnny and Richie looked in their July 4 attire. And now the shirt is too small. Curse you, Mother Nature!
A button down pale blue plaid shirt brings back a memory of a picture of Johnny. I can't remember when it was taken, but know that he looked so young in it. I mean, he is young. He's only 5 years old, but he acts so much older that I forget what a baby he is until I see him smiling without showing teeth in a picture. His skin looks so soft. His clothes are so little and uncharacteristically clean. How did that happen? I want to tell the kid in the picture: "Stay there. I'm going to raise the other Johnny, but when he moves out and paddles to Africa in a canoe with his pet gorilla, or whatever his plan is, I'm going to come back for you. Don't grow any older, now." But you might as well try to find weather coverage on the radio because it's not going to happen. Time, like a tornado, carries childhoods away and leaves grownups in their place. Although, you learn, when you're a mom or dad, to see the baby in every picture, from the criminal on the news to the soldier in Iraq and it is heartbreaking.
This year, everyone is in between clothes sizes, so we tried a new strategy called "If it fits you, feel free to it." I hauled a big yellow trashbag to the center of the room and let the boys choose their own clothes. Amazingly, every single tank top fit Richie, even the one that came down to his ankles. And every animal-related T-shirt fit Johnny, even the skin-tight ones. Luckily, that is the style.
It was 90 degrees yesterday, I think. You know it's time to change out the summer and winter clothes when it is too hot to go into the attic. The beauty of living in Kansas City is that it is always too hot or too cold in the attic, so you never have to face the array of broken, yet indisposable home goods or the box of "keepsakes" from grade school which includes a speech that you worked really hard to get an A on and yet your husband makes fun of you for keeping it (and all the other homework you ever completed. What? What's wrong with that? I worked my butt off to graduate grade school, honey.)
Johnny got MVP of the winter-summer changeout (not that we're a competitive household or anything) when he spotted a brown recluse spider crawling on the floor of the boys room right by J.J. It must have crawled out of the yellow trashbag. It didn't bite anyone thanks to Johnny's hawklike vision and a deadly spiderman flip-flop.
Now I know that by the end of the week, it will be 40 degrees outside and we'll all be shivering in our shorts, except for Richie, who doesn't need to wear shorts because his tank tops cover his entire body. At least I'll remember for a little while how fast the time goes. There's no stopping it. You can't even take cover in the basement from it. But when you know it's happening, and you can at least enjoy the ride on the tornado of time.