Rated: E · Short Story · Family · #1437061
The world through a child's eyes can be both ponderous and wonderous.
This story was written for the "Stop, Collaborate, and Listen" contest, which was opened on 26 May 08. The judging was never completed as the owner left WDC before the contest closed. The prompt selected was Butterfly Kisses.
The beautiful ribbon was given by Shannon simply for enjoying this story. "Thank you, Shannon."
"My name is Taylor. T-aaa-y l-ooooo-r."
He said this with all the exuberance of a rambunctious, take the bull-by-the-horns five-year-old. Taylor's my grandson, my middle daughter's son, and a remarkable young man, if I do say so myself. Of course, you've all heard this before. I'm quite sure you've even said this before. But, it's true.
On this particular day, Taylor had something to say. I thought I'd interview him--you know, like a reporter on TV. He loved that.
"So, Mr. Taylor, what ..." I asked in my best reporter voice.
"No!" he interrupted firmly. "Not mister. I'm not a daddy yet. I'm just a kid."
It was hard to fault the logic of a five-year-old going on 21. Taylor wasn't precocious in the sense that he was writing and playing concertos or reading and understanding higher economics treatises. Nope, he was more street-smart. He had a common sense borne of innocence.
"Okay, Taylor," I said, sitting down to look at him eye to eye. "I understand you spent today at Miss Mona's. How did you like her?"
"Miss Mona is good. She lets me play during nap time sometimes." He leaned close to me and whispered conspiratorially, "But I have to be quiet so's the other kids don't know."
I winked at him. "They'll never hear it from me."
"An' I ... an' I keep real quiet." Then he looked sad, and said, "But sometimes I don't like it there."
"Why not?" I asked. "I've heard Miss Mona is very nice."
He just nodded and tightened his lips. He looked like he really wanted to say something. But he wasn't quite sure he should. He looked down and started fiddling with his hands.
"Taylor?" I gently prodded. "Don't you like Miss Mona?"
"Well ... she's NOT my mommy," he blurted out in a loud voice, his lower lip quivering. "I want to be with Mommy. But I have to come there."
"And why is that, Taylor?" My 'reporter' instinct kicked in. I suspected we were getting to Taylor's real concern. But I didn't want to scare him off. I waited for him to collect his thoughts.
"Mommy can't be with me during the day. She has to work," he said, sniffling. "She wants to be with me. She said so," he added defiantly.
"I'm sure she does," I said. "But why does she have to work?"
"I dunno," he said. "Maybe cuz ..." He stopped. I waited for him to continue.
"Maybe cuz my daddy's not here with us."
I could feel his pain. So many single moms were trying to make ends meet in a world already made tough by a depressed economy and a system prejudiced against single mothers. Now the world hit a little closer to home--my own family.
"My other daddy tries to help," Taylor said, looking up at me.
"Other daddy?" A real reporter would want this point clarified.
"Yeah, Daddy Colby." A pause. "He's not my real daddy. But he's nice. And my mommy likes him real well." Taylor smiled. "They got married."
"What about your real Dad?" I asked. "Where's he?"
"Around," he said evasively. Taylor walked over, picked up a yellow squirt gun, and pointed it at an imaginary villain. I waited patiently.
"I stay with him sometimes. But he leaves me with other people a lot." He added angrily, "I don't like them. They don't play with me."
"So, why isn't your real daddy with you and your Mom?"
"Cuz Mommy says he's a kid like me. Only bigger," he replied, holding his hand high over his head. "An' I think Mommy is sad cuz he doesn't like us."
I asked, "Why do you think he doesn't like you, Taylor?"
"Cuz he doesn't help us," Taylor said forcefully, frowning.
He glared at me for a second with his mouth closed tightly, his bottom lip pushed out over his upper. Then his face softened and he continued.
"My mommy says you're s'posed to help people. An' he doesn't help us. That's not good."
And before I could say anything, Taylor continued. "But Daddy Colby helps us. He and Mommy and I have fun together. We play games at night a lot."
"What kind of games?"
"Butterfly Kisses and Baby Bear Hugs," he said triumphantly.
"Well, I know what Butterfly kisses are," I said. "What are Baby Bear hugs?"
"Silly," Taylor said. "That's whatcha get when your mommy and daddy catch you after chasing you all through the house," he added, like everyone in the world should know.
"Daddy Colby gives the best Baby Bear hugs in the world." Taylor leaned in close and whispered, "Sometimes I have to trip on purpose. I have to let him catch me so's I don't miss out."
Then Taylor looked sad again.
"Daddy Colby has to go away sometimes. I think he has to work too." He added, "I wish I could work."
"Why is that, Taylor? Why do you want to work?"
"Cuz then I could get lots o' money to help my mommy," he said, matter-of-factly. "Then she wouldn't have to leave me. We could play all the time."
"But Taylor," I said softly. "If you were working, you wouldn't be here with your Mom."
"Oh yeah," he said, frowning as he thought about that. Then he brightened and said, "Well, then she wouldn't have to work so hard. Mommy works very hard for me. An' I wanna help. Mommy tells me I'm special. I think she's special, too. That's why I wanna help."
Taylor motioned for me to come closer. He continued in a softer voice.
"I love Mommy. An' I want her to stay at home. An' the gov'ment won't help. So I gotta help."
The world in a nutshell, made sense by a five-year-old. I thought, 'Pretty smart for a young guy.' Sad too that someone so young had to feel obligated to work to help out his family.
"Taylor," I said. "You're awfully young. Shouldn't you be playing, not working? Shouldn't you go to school first?"
"Oh, I play," he said. "We play every day before I go to bed. But not 'til my stuff is all done."
It struck me that this young man was indeed wise beyond his years. His mother had instilled in him a sense of integrity that was somehow lacking in many young folk today.
I smiled, remembering all the times I've watched my grandson over the past couple years. His emotions, his joys, and his sorrows were on display for all the world to see without fear or reservation. Ah, the innocence of youth. To once again be so carefree with one's emotions.
Suddenly I stood, raised my arms and hands overhead in the universal scare position--palms open, fingers extended and curled, and reaching to grab him.
"Grrrr," I growled in my most fiercesome, bear-like voice.
Taylor squealed in delight, turned and was off like a rocket.
I smiled and ran after him, chasing him from room to room. This granddaddy bear was grateful for Taylor's sudden 'trip.'
Butterfly kisses and Baby Bear hugs were passed around for quite awhile.
Word Count: 1233