In this week’s episode of the Front Porch on Fox 28 Spokane, I fondly recall the shoes that got away.
You can watch the segment here.
And honestly? I’m still dreaming of dancing in golden shoes…
Here’s a link to my most recent Front Porch television segment, in which my husband discovers the remains of a previous civilization while constructing a retaining wall in our backyard.
The spots air at the end of the Spokane Talks show, each Sunday night at 6 PM on Fox28 Spokane.
You find previous Front Porch segments here.
Lightning McQueen has definitely seen better days.
His front wheels are missing, as are both headlights. His rear tires are packed with dirt and his big eyes on the windshield peer through a layer of dust. His red paint job has faded into orange, and his plastic body is cracked in places. Years of exposure to sun and snow will do that to a car.
My husband is building a retaining wall at the back edge of our property, and his shovel had unearthed the abandoned toy.
“Look what I found,” Derek said, cradling the car in his hands.
Like an archeologist on a dig, he’s discovered the remains of a previous civilization. He’s been working hard to eradicate the evidence that small boys once roamed wild in our backyard, but this is something he’d missed.
When we moved into our home in 1993, both the front and back yards were a mess of weeds and clover.
Derek focused his attention on the front first, so our boys took possession of the back. That summer, my dad bought them a swing set, and we installed the first of many plastic wading pools.
Very little swinging happened on that swing set. Instead, the slide was used as a launching point for cars, toys and boys. The tandem swing made it easier for them to scale to the top of the set, the better to terrify their mother.
The boys grew. The grass came back. The swing set fell apart. And a series of bigger pools kept them occupied during the summer.
Squirt guns, bicycles, skateboards and toys littered the yard making navigation perilous for parents.
When our four boys grew bored with toys and things with wheels, they took up digging in the barren patch of ground where the previous owner had attempted to garden. Bordered by railroad ties, the spot offered ample space for industrious boys to play in the dirt.
I worried about the holes they dug with plastic shovels getting too deep, the tunnels getting too long, but Derek just said, “Boys gotta dig.”
However, even he was surprised to find they’d used a few of his two-by-fours to shore up a gaping gash in the ground.
The boys grew. They mowed the grass. They stopped playing in the dirt. And Derek built a beautiful cedar shed where the swing set once stood.
Our two oldest sons moved out and their dad built a beautiful deck, and we added a gazebo, and raised bed gardens. The retaining wall is just another step in the beautification of our kids’ former playground, and it seems Derek had stumbled upon a toy graveyard while constructing it.
“I’ve been finding a lot of green army men,” he said. “I rebury them with full honors.”
But it didn’t seem right to leave Lightning in an unmarked grave, especially since it looks like he’d been the victim of violent crime. Someone had used permanent marker to print “Help Me…” on his hood, leading us to conclude the toy had been carjacked and possibly held for ransom.
The printing looks exactly like our second son’s writing, and our youngest son, Sam, was a huge fan of the movie “Cars.” He was 6 when the first movie was released, and he went “Cars” crazy.
He had a Radiator Springs play set and the full fleet of cars from the film. But Lightning was always his favorite. In fact, if I venture into his teenage lair, I know I’ll still find at least two versions of Lightning McQueen that he’s not ready to part with.
Derek went back to work on the wall, leaving the dirt-encrusted car on the deck railing. Weeks later, it’s still there, parked facing our outdoor dining area, where Lightning can watch the boy who loved him come and go.
Last night, I swear I saw his eyes shining through their dusty coating when Sam sat down to dinner.
And then old Lightning smiled.
Nothing brings life into focus like finding a list of things you wanted when you were a kid, and measuring it against the reality of your adult life.
That happened to me recently while going through a box of “Cindy” things my Mom has kept since my childhood.
But first can we talk about those locks of hair? I mean, why?
What am I supposed to do with the locks of honey gold hair in the Ziploc sandwich bag? My mother has saved these for 50 years. They’ve traveled across the ocean and back, not even attached to my head.
The artsy-craftsy among you might suggest making some kind of shadow box, so that my once-golden hair will be forever preserved behind glass. I guess I could stick my baby teeth in there, too. Yes. Mom also saved my teeth.
I have to admit that I saved my oldest child’s first tooth as well, and I can’t seem to toss it. I saved another son’s first tooth, but didn’t label it, so now it’s in a sandwich bag in my jewelry box.
And no, I don’t know why it seemed important to save those teeth. I blame my mother.
But back to my hair.
Facebook friends suggested the hair and teeth can be used for DNA purposes. I hope they meant tracing my genetic heritage, and they’re not referring to making a positive ID of my corpse, or using the DNA to tie me to a crime scene.
That’s almost as creepy as the friend who suggested I use it to make a voodoo doll.
The fishermen of my acquaintance suggested my golden locks might be used to make fishing lures. Also creepy.
Others suggested making a keychain or using it to make a clone of myself. And one fashion-retro friend said I could weave it in my hair to make a mini rat tail.
For now, it’s in my jewelry box with my kid’s unlabeled tooth.
While the hair and the teeth were a bit disturbing, Mom also saved quite a bit of my early writing – including a list titled “Things I Want.”
I suspect the list was written during a church service. My parents took us to church every Wednesday night and twice on Sunday, so I had ample time to hone my “sit still, be quiet” skills, and Mom kept a sheaf of scratch paper in her purse to keep me occupied.
I drew a lot of pictures and did even more writing. The writing took. The art, not so much.
The list reads as follows (remember I was 8, I spell much better now.)
A puple bike with training wheels
A 1000 dollars
A Maroon body shirt whith an Aqua skirk. And white go-go boots.
Some corel lipstik. And some peach lipclos. And some pink blosh. And some ponds lemon cold cream,
And some toys.
And a laveder dress with pink and lavender flowers.
But most of all I want God to come! Yas!
Obviously, I was 8 going on 18. Or I wanted to be my mother. Probably both.
Also apparent, I must have been hedging my bets on my wish list by making the good Lord’s return my most heartfelt desire.
So here’s the round-up.
I did NOT get a purple bike with training wheels. I got a blue bike with a red, white and blue striped banana seat. I tried to be grateful, but I was positive the patriotic color scheme meant it was a boys’ bike.
I did get $1,000, at some point in my life, but it was not gifted to me in any magical way. I had to work for it.
I did get a maroon body shirt. For those not familiar with ’70s fashion, body shirts were tight-fitting knit shirts with snap crotches. I suppose the idea was that your shirt would stay nicely tucked in, but let me tell you those snaps were awful, if you drank too much fruit punch at a birthday party and had to wait in line for the bathroom. That’s all I’m saying about that.
I don’t think I had an aqua skirt, but Mom had white plastic go-go boots that ended up in our dress-up box. I loved those boots. In fact, I just might find a pair online, so I’ll be prepared when they come back into fashion.
As for the makeup, I did wear coral lipstick topped with peach lip gloss in middle school, and I still wear pink blush. The Pond’s cold cream? Never used it, but Mom still does.
I don’t remember a lavender dress with pink flowers, but I did have some toys.
All in all, most of the things I longed for as an 8-year-old have come my way, so I can’t complain.
I folded the list and tucked in with the lock of hair and my baby teeth.
Someday my sons can figure out what to do with them. Cloning may be an option by then, and I’m sure having their mother cloned is every son’s dream.
Contact Cindy Hval at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is the author of “War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation.” Her previous columns are available online at www.spokesman.com/staff/ cindy-hval/ Follow her on Twitter at @CindyHval.
The nurse in the delivery room smiled as I pressed my nose to the downy head of my newborn son.
“He smells like angel kisses,” I murmured, besotted.
I had a nonmedicated birth, so I couldn’t blame that statement on a drug-induced haze. Nope, this was a love-induced haze.
“Enjoy it while it lasts,” said the nurse. “In about 13 years you’re going to walk into his room and gag. It’s gonna reek like ripe goat pen meets Old Spice.”
I stared blankly at her. It was like she was speaking Swahili.
That was many years ago, and of course, now I know that nurse had pretty much called it. However, I can’t attest to the goat pen analogy. In my experience (and I’ve had a lot of experience) the scent of a teenage male’s room is best described as sweaty gym socks meet crushed corn ships, mingled with soccer jersey left to mildew in the bottom of an athletic bag, topped with a cloying cloud of Axe body spray.
The odor could be marketed as a teen-pregnancy-prevention aid.
Baby boys should come with a disclaimer. The heady scent of Baby Magic lotion wears off long before they reach kindergarten and is initially replaced by the smell of dirt. Plain old dirt. Which isn’t bad, it’s a reminder of all their adventures.
Adventure-reminders also include; worms, gravel, sticks and clumps of mud left in pockets. Mud? You may ask. It was for the worms, of course. But that earthy aroma is better than what comes next.
Around age 12, the smell of dirt gives way Eau de Gag. It’s so unfair that by the time they really start smelling good again, they move out.
At one time I had three teenage boys living in my house. Trust me when I say there are not enough Yankee candles in the world to compensate.
Change in body odor is one thing, but the universal shift in attitude as boys transition from teens to young men – well, that’s something impossible to mask.
Eye-rolling “whatevers” often replace heart-to-heart conversations. The chattiest of teens suddenly embraces sullen silence, and sometimes the silence is shattered by angry words and accusations that fly through the home polluting the atmosphere more than gym socks and body spray ever could.
And the things we find in pockets are far more sobering than worms.
Even when you know this necessary bid for healthy separation and independence is coming – when you know this is the natural order of things – it’s still painful.
As they grow, we lovingly support their independence by giving them safe places to explore. But when they can drive and spend long hours away from our watchful eyes, they sometimes explore places we’d rather protect them from.
Now, with just one teen left at home, these pitfalls don’t dismay me and instead of clutching him more tightly, I hold him more loosely than I did his older brothers.
Because I know what comes next. If you can weather those turbulent teen years, a really nice young man may come home to visit you. And he’ll actually choose to spend time with you.
Last weekend, one of those young men came home for dinner. As I reached up and wrapped my arms around my oldest son, he pressed his whiskery cheek against my forehead.
I hugged him, and somewhere beneath the cigarette smoke and shampoo, I caught the faintest whiff of my baby boy. Time blurred, melted and stopped momentarily, as I closed my eyes, breathed deeply and held him tight.
This I know. If someday my eyesight fails, if my hearing declines, if I lose my sense of touch, I will always recognize this man I call my son. His infant scent is embedded in our mutual DNA. To me he still smells like angel kisses.
Contact Cindy Hval at email@example.com. She is the author of “War Bonds: Love Stories From the Greatest Generation.” You can listen to her podcast “Life, Love and Raising Sons” at SpokaneTalksOnline.com. Her previous columns are available online at spokesman.com/ columnists. Follow her on Twitter at @CindyHval.
My two younger sons joined me for another episode of Life, Love and Raising Sons (Not Necessarily in That Order).
We covered what’s new (Sam got his first job and Zach’s moving to Nashville), but mainly we talked potatoes. Specifically, why was there a potato in the silverware drawer and whose responsibility is it to remove it?
The Great Potato Debate
As if that’s not fascinating enough, we also played “Finish This Sentence,” and discovered what Zach would do if he was a girl and what I would do if I was man.
Tune in here.
You can also listen via iTunes or Stitcher. Just look for Spokane Talks Online and Life, Love and Raising Sons.
We don’t always talk potatoes. Sometimes we cover corn 😉