Thursday, March 17, 2016

Favored Nation

I rolled over this morning and pinched Tony because he was not wearing green. Safe I was, with the green-shirted skiers on my pajamas.

"How appropriate it is to be going to Chicago on St. Patrick's Day!" I exclaimed.

The day begins differently when one knows she is flying to Chicago at 1:40 in the afternoon, on St. Patrick's Day.

I thought of the parade and the green dying of the Chicago River. How I would like to see a fluorescent green river, but it happens on the Saturday before St Patrick's Day.

 I remembered the un-planned coincidence, years ago, of being in New York City on St. Paddy's Day. Completely unaware, we were surprised to catch the parade of the Irish, which consisted of hundreds of proud Irish police and firemen. Today in Ireland, the celebrations will last the entire day, for the day is meant to celebrate the coming of St. Patrick and the introduction of Christianity.

But we are not going to Chicago for St. Patrick's Day; we are going to spend time with Mandi, Silas and Ezra.

Ezra. Our own little leprechaun. I had to look up leprechaun after misspelling it three times. It's not a word used often in my lexicon; from a lack of use, I was't acquainted with its spelling. Just like Ezra. Not the spelling of his name, but with his little three year old self--and he certainly isn't familiar enough with me, which can be a little difficult; the little guy sometimes tolerates me. Barely.

I understand. We go months without seeing him. In those months his development grows exponentially without the word "grandma," or "grandparents." Tis a hard thing, and sometimes I get discouraged and back off completely. It would be worse if I didn't. I think.

As he grows, he will better understand who we are and maybe why we are hardly around.

In the meantime, I can't give up. Yet, the truth gnaws at my conscious--Ezra loves Tony. Not me, just Tony.

"Does he know we're coming?" I ask Mandi, his mom, the day before our visit.

"Yes, he's talking about hiding in the closet, and turning off the lights, and..."

"Those are all the things he does with Grandpa," I lament, "maybe I need to have my things I do with him."

My daughter's enthusiasm bubbles, "Yes, he loves to hide under blankets. Whenever he's in a bad mood, I throw a blanket over myself, he finds me and joins me, and it takes him right out of his bad mood."

I play along, "I can do that," but later realize hiding under blankets would make me miserable. Dark, claustrophobic, static electricity pinging my hair and clothes. I'l be throwing the blanket over grandpa.

Maybe I can play cars, or legos, or...none of it sounds fun. Maybe that's why he likes Grandpa Tony so much more.

I try to figure out what does sound fun: taking him on walks, and patiently waiting as he strings together sentence after sentence, slowly, consciously, as he realizes the exploration that language is--or as I realize. Fun to me is not fun to Ezra. Maybe that's okay. Maybe it's okay to not have favored nation status.

That I even care about favored nation status reveals the heart of the problem.

No matter who we are, and who we're with, whether it was on the elementary playground, the middle school lunchroom, the high school gym, with the ladies at lunch, or with a grandson: when we care how much people like us--we can't be ourselves.

When we can't be ourselves, not even we are comfortable in our own skin--how can we expect others to be comfortable with us?

It's time to be myself--even with the intimidating three year old.