Wednesday, June 30, 2010

If You Love Something.... (A Frog's Tale)

Today each of the kids had $5 to spend at Target.

Zoe bought herself a tall cup of Starbucks.

Zack couldn't find anything "in his price range" so I dragged him to get the rest of the stuff on my list (trashbags that aren't crappy; honey; k-cups; bananas...).

As we turned from the water aisle and pass the cheap chip section, Zoe stops short in front of the cart, saving a life (temporarily) -- " Stop! Look! A frog!"

Zack throws himself on it, both called and carried by a ball of puppy dog enthusiastic love he feels for all living things. "Can we keeeep it? And call it George? And please can I have it and put it in a ..."

"Yes." I interrupt his needless begging. "Yes, get George, come on," I beckon him to follow me past the wine, towards the honey

"Yip-Hoo," he shouts,  clicks his heels, loses George who makes a heroic leap towards the cream corn, then reclaims him. "Come here guy, I LOVE YOU!"

For the next hour Zack carries George cupped in his hands through Target, then through the grocery, chatting away at his captive happily and unselfconsciously.

While I pause to consider Triscuits (are they worth $3.50 or wait until they are buy-one-get-one-free? are they a necessary food group? do I really need them? is there cheese at home? can I please have a can of spray cheese just his once? how much is the spray cheese? $3.99, sigh, absolutely not, but I'm PMSing just this once please? NO...  ),  a rack of overpriced overmarketed underquality plastic toys catches Zack's attention.

"Mom, do I still have $5?"

I put down the Triscuits, turn away from the spray cheese, reach in my pocket and pull it out to show him.

"Good, I need to buy this turtle for George, so he will know I love him..." He plops an overpriced bauble into the cart.

I stop there, (hugging a box of Wheat Thins, wondering if there is cream cheese at home...) and consider whether to pop  Zack's happy love bubble and ask him if he really meant what he'd said.

He doesn't notice me, all of his attention on narrating to George the joys of  marshmallows and the many sub-species of goldfish (by size, by color, by flavor, sorted like wines).

I really have to know, so I put the Wheat Thins down, skip all crackers for the week, and catch up to him. "Zack, are you buying this turtle as some show of love for the frog? or is it for yourself?"

"Myself," he whispers, "but I'll pretend it's for George."

I wink back in complicity, deciding not to untangle his ethics as we pass pickles, salad dressings, olive oil and salt (which I later realize I forget to buy. Again).

Later, while I unpack frozen pizzas and Trix yogurt, Zoe and Zack join George the frog in some Roman Bath ritual celebrating the initiation of a frog into the family.

In silence (more accurately: ignoring their pleas for me to SEE THIS and EEEEK MOM and my favorite A TOWEL A TOWEL A TOWEL),  while wiping down the counters, brushing lunch crumbs into the sink,  I thank the universe that the best things in life are free.

(except for George the frog, who is in captivity)