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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter! Let’s celebrate with some recent anecdotes from the Tribe Martin.

Matthew and I have been spending a lot of time “farming” here on the homestead. The definition of “farming” on the Martin land is this: we move piles of rocky, hard weedy dirt around; we use paver stones to form two beds next to the garage; we hope to eventually stick some stuff in the ground that will later grow into something remotely related to fruit or vegetable that we can eat.

Our afternoons farming are always interrupted once or twice by the shrill girly-scream of my four-year-old son. This means he has either unearthed a worm or spider. Yesterday, the insect interloper caused such an uproar that shovels had to be put down and we (Matthew and I, not me and the bug) had to have a heart-to-heart.

“Matthew,” I said, “I don’t like spiders either.”

“Really?” Matthew asked incredulously.

“Yep. When I was little, I always made Uncle Chris kill them for me, and eventually I slept with a baseball bat in my room to protect myself…not that they could do anything ‘cuz we’re a lot bigger than they are, huh? But it just made me feel better. Now, if Daddy’s home and I find a spider in the house, I have him kill it. But if he’s not home, I have to be brave and kill it.” [or pretend that I didn’t see it and vacate the house with the children as quickly as possible for a spontaneous – but necessary – errand].

“I’ll have daddy kill spiders too,” Matthew informs me.

“OK, but what about when you’re a grown-up, and if you’re the daddy? Then will you kill it?” I inquire.

“No. I’ll have the mommy do it. My wife will like spiders and always kill them for me.”

Good luck with that, future daughter-in-law of mine.

After post-farming clean-up yesterday, we went out do dinner. Zachary had earned all of his “coins” (poker chips that are placed in an empty deli meat container in order to bribe our children to be good little people). I didn’t have any cheap, crappy toys to give him as a prize, so we decided to head to one of those family-friendly places as a treat. The choice? Billy McHale’s. Let me tell you, a train driving around a track suspended from the ceiling is almost as cool as Disneyland.

But perhaps even better than the train was the Jack. By some act of God, we were seated on the other side of the wall-partition from a family with a five-year-old named Jack. Matthew and Jack had a perfect little window in which they could swap facts. The conversation – to the best of my memory’s ability, went something like this:

Jack: “Hey, watch for the train. I’m five. Where do you live?”
Matthew: “In the white and black house.”
J: (laughing) “No WHERE do you live?”
M: “Washington.” [Mommy: “Newcastle, Matthew. We live in Newcastle”]. “Newcastle, we live in Newcastle.”
J: “We live in Covington.”
M: “Mom! They live in the same town as us!”
ME: “Matthew, Covington is no where near Newcastle.”
J: “My name is Jack.” [Matthew grins from ear-to-ear. One of his best buddies is named Jack! And he has a cousin named Jack – who Matthew adores even though they only met once, last summer. Oh, what luck! We know how great Jacks are].
M: “My name is Matthew [pronounced “Maffew”], and John Deeres and fire trucks are my favorite.”
J: “I like tractors.”
M: “My favorites are John Deeres.”
J: “I like hay balers.”
M: (hardly able to contain his excitement) “John Deeres have hay balers!”
J: “How old are you?”
M: “Four. Green is my favorite color.”
J: “My favorite is red.”
M: “MY favorite is red…and green. I like red AND green.”
J: “So, Matt, [Mommy cringes -- I'm so not ready for my Matthew to turn into a Matt] do you want to be my best friend?”
M: “Oh, sure!”
J: “Draw me a map to your house.”
M: [Drawing lines on the back of the Kids’ Menu] “OK, you go this way, then this way, then go here, then this way to our house!” [drawing a square-ish shape at the end of the squiggly lines].
J: “My grandma and grandpa live in Ellensburg…on a farm.”
M: “Can I have a map?”

In purple crayon, Jack’s dad (who we haven’t actually seen due to the various Billy McHale’s props hanging in our way, but we assume he has parents over there), draws us a map that includes a few road names off of the Interstate with an X marking “Spark’s Farm.” I think, if we were really dedicated stalkers, we could actually show up at the farm. It’s a much more detailed map than Matthew’s, that’s for sure. And how great that Matthew’s new best friend has grandparents with a farm! You know how much we love John Deeres in this house.

Eventually food arrives and Matthew and Jack’s conversation becomes more sporadic as they focus on eating mac ‘n cheese or chicken tenders or some other fried food substance. At some point during dinner, two peanut M & M’s are passed from Jack to Matthew. They happen to be red and green, perfectly corresponding with Matthew’s recently declared favorite colors. Jack’s mom says something (still can’t see her either) and Jack says, “You can have that one when you finish your dinner.” Matthew – always Mr. Polite – thanks his new best bud. Finally, Jack’s peoples have concluded their meal (they were there before us, after all). Jack bids his new best friend farewell. When his parental units surface above the restaurant paraphernalia I wave to his dad and say, “OK, we’ll see you in Ellensburg!” Smiling, he responds, “Everyone is always welcome at the Spark’s Farm.” Sweet! We’ll consider that our standing invitation.

How funny would that be if we showed up – with our purple crayon-drawn map?! “Yes, hello. You don’t know us but we met your grandson Jack at Billy McHale’s and well, he’s our son’s best friend, we were given this map, so…which room is ours?!” There’s a part of me that REALLY wants to do it.

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