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Hulk shrine and high-fives - Not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be
rollick
rollick
Hulk shrine and high-fives
Back in Chicago. Last night, I went to the grocery store, and when I came back to the car, there was a 9-inch articulated plastic Incredible Hulk toy sitting on the roof of my car. Both parking spots around me were empty, so I presume someone in one of those spots put it down for a second while wangling kids and groceries, and then forgot it. I momentarily considered taking it home for a particularly Hulk-identified friend of mine, but I've had some recent experiences with small children and lost beloved toys, particularly of the "love it so much it has to come to the store with me" variety, so it seemed kinder to leave it where it might be found. I placed it upright on the concrete base of the parking-lot overhead light closest to my car. On that same base, someone had left about a dollar's worth of uniformly grubby, rusty pennies for some esoteric reason. I put Hulk next to them. They made a weird little shrine together. I hope Hulk found his way home.

On my last day in Oklahoma, we went to the zoo for four exhausting hours. It was perfect weather for it — sunny but breezy — and most of the animals were out and active. The 6-year-old was in balky mode and only wanted to go to the park and play, but the 8-year-old was as calm and settled as I've seen him, and we stood together and watched animals and talked about them, and sometimes made up voices for them. It was a good day.

But the best part was when he demanded we go into an odd little Colonial house on the grounds, which turned out to be a little one-room museum of the zoo's history, with old photographs on the walls and a video continually projected on one of the walls. There were four rows of carpet-covered boxes serving as seating for people to watch the movie, but no one else was in the place, so both kids started running a circuit of the rows. I sat in a corner at the back, and when they finished the full circuit and got to me, I high-fived them. They enjoyed it enough that they did the whole run again, for the high-fives.

And then it instantly, easily became a game. The 8-year-old ran half the circuit and then came straight to me and told me he'd taken a shortcut, so I gave him a high two-and-a-half. They ran the circuit twice without stopping and got a double-handed high 10. And we did this over and over, with me coming up with something new every time — three high ones, "antler high five" with my hands coming out of the side of my head, "unicorn high five" with one hand extended from the middle of my forehead, and on and on. It was easy and simple and they loved it. I'm not sure anything in the world is as gratifying as making someone else immensely happy by doing something creative and extremely simple.

Thoughout this whole trip — and really, throughout most trips to Oklahoma since the kids were born — I've been wondering how they'll remember me when they're grown up, which moments will stick with them. Most won't; I'm not a big part of their lives. But when I think of my own aunts and uncles, I have a patchwork of memories of specific scattered moments that add up into portraits of my relationships with them, and every time I interact with the kids, I think "Will this be one of those memories?" If anything sticks, I hope the high-five game does. It certainly stuck with me. When we got back to the truck at the end of the day, I complimented the 8-year-old on making the whole trip without griping or whining, and to celebrate, we did a 5-4-3-2-1-explosion high five. And when he and his mom saw me off at the airport Tuesday morning, I offered him "an upside-down high five for luck until I see you again," and his face just lit up. I can live with none of this staying with him; no one can control what other people remember about them. But I hope the look on the kids' faces as we were playing that game is still with me in the old folks' home, when I can't remember what I had for breakfast, but can't forget the good ol' days.

I'm-a feelin': pleased pleased

3 people still haven't weakened / Isn't it a great life?
Comments
thefirethorn From: thefirethorn Date: March 22nd, 2013 01:41 am (UTC) (Link)

awwwwwww

ok you win the internet for Sweet.
thefirethorn From: thefirethorn Date: March 22nd, 2013 01:43 am (UTC) (Link)
also I'm using the 5-4-3-2-1 highfive as a 'celebration' at our GE school.
thefirethorn From: thefirethorn Date: March 22nd, 2013 01:48 am (UTC) (Link)
When Aaron was little he remembered that you wrapped up your hair in a towel.

When you arrived, Jack remembered that we went with you to the Children's Museum.
3 people still haven't weakened / Isn't it a great life?