April 24, 2011
In that kitchen
When I picked Little Biker Boy up, he had a plastic bag of clothes with him. “Can you wash these while we do the Easter eggs?” he asked. I tossed his shirts and pants into the washer while Shaggy Hair Boy cleared the kitchen table. Dandelion Niece and Taekwondo Nephew had joined us to dye eggs: they’re teenagers now, and not little kids, but they knew it would be no fun for Little Biker Boy to dye eggs alone.
As I poured tablespoons of vinegar into mugs of water and dye, I couldn’t help but think of Ponytail Girl. Her mother had offered little explanation as to where she was; I hoped that wherever she was for Easter, she was safe.
“I quite like this colour,” Taekwondo Nephew said as he pulled a purple egg from the dye. For some reason, he’d decided to talk in a British accent, which seemed to both puzzle and entertain Little Biker Boy.
Shaggy Hair Boy had index cards spread out on the table in front of him: notes for a short story he was working on. He decided he’d contribute to the egg dyeing effort by starting a sing-a-along, and soon he and his cousins were belting out, “I’ve been working on the railroad.”
“Do you know any rap songs?” Little Biker Boy asked.
The gang switched the beat immediately. “All the live-long day, yo!”
When I drove Little Biker Boy home, he had with him a dozen coloured eggs, which he said he was going to eat all by himself, and some little packages of candy that Tie-dye Brother-in-law had brought for him. He reached to the dashboard of my car and held up the jacket of the Mountain Goats CD that I’d been listening to.
“This your music?” he asked.
The CD Sunset Tree is an album about child abuse, written by a man who survived the kind of childhood that Little Biker Boy is currently living.
“It’s your music too,” I said. “Someday, when you’re older, I’ll buy a copy for you.”
He looked at the CD cover again and shrugged. Then he began talking, like he always does in the car, sharing with me the details of a difficult ten-year-old life.
Posted by jo(e)