Early on Sunday morning, as wake-up noises could be heard about the house, I feigned sleep and listened in on the following conversation between Charlie and Genevieve:
C: It’s Mother’s Day today, Gigi. Wanna help me finish my card for Mom?
G: (all giggly and excited) It’s Mother’s Day! It’s Mother’s Day!
(From my sprawl in bed, I pictured her grabbing a piece of paper and preparing to create her Mother’s Day card alongside Charlie, but as I remained reclined… in my bedroom, which is on the first floor, off the dining room…I have no idea what was actually going on or where. The setting was the kitchen, I think.)
G: Dear Mother’s Day, Have a Happy, Happy Birthday!
C: Gigi, (C drawls out slowly) that’s not right! This is not Mom’s birthday. Her birthday is later…in the summer. Today is Mother’s Day. You don’t say Happy Birthday on a Mother’s Day card. You draw pictures of pretty flowers and put love all over it and then we feed Mom breakfast in bed. We have to be nice to her ALLLLLL day even though she gets mad and is mean sometimes.
G: She doesn’t get mad to me.
C: Yes she does.
G: Is there presents?
C: Dad might get her some flowers later. I don’t know. We just have to do the card right now.
G: When I have my Mother’s Day, I ‘m going to get lots of presents with pink and purple. Pink is my favorite color.
C: (Sighing now…it’s early in the morning to be explaining all of this and C just wants to finish the card.) You’re not going to have a Mother’s Day because you are NOT a mother! You just have birthdays and Christmas – that’s it!
G: When’s my birthday?!!!
C: Not for a very, very, very long time!
G: When’s your birthday?
C: The day before yours.
G: So first it’s yours then mine?
C: No, first it’s Mom’s birthday.
G: You said it’s Mother’s Day!
C: (His voice is growing louder. As his frustration intensifies, I picture him bearing down harder on the crayon or colored pencil in his hand.) TODAY IS MOTHER’S DAY, GIGI!!! After a lot of weeks it will be MOM’S birthday then it will be MY birthday, then it will be YOUR birthday, then it’s CHRISTMAS!!!! (Exasperated, he slowly lets air blow out of his lips…regaining strength…controlling himself.)
G: What about Chloe and Max?
C: (Another deep long sigh. This is really interrupting his concentration on the card.) They have them next year…after Christmas! Don’t you get it?! It’s one big circle that keeps going around and around, every year. Your birthday’s later on in the circle. It didn’t come to you yet. (I change position in the bed, enlightened by Charlie’s circle imagery.)
G: Why is it a circle?
Silence. She’s gone too far now. The student/sister is not grasping the very clear explanation of the order of celebrations. I hear footsteps. Charlie enters our room, muttering and blowing steam, but my eyes remain closed. He changes course to Scott’s side of the bed.
C: Can you please feed Gigi some cereal because she’s asking too many annoying questions and (loud whispering now, so I will remain asleep and the Mother’s Day surprise will remain intact) I can’t concentrate on my card!
Gigi has followed Charlie into our bedroom and stands beside him at eye level with Scott’s head, which is burrowing deeper into the pillow.
G: Happy Mother’s Day, Daddy!