Yesterday, between swimming sessions, episodes of Sponge Bob Square Pants, and high-speed rides to the mailbox, I stole a few minutes to iron a few work shirts for Handsome. Because, of course, life goes on. He continues to shake the globe up at the Commish, righting wrongs and striking impossible balances, so that I can continue to play with other people's kids and dream up new gardens and write. Anyway, yesterday Juliana joined me while I ironed. She is the youngest in the set and a sheer joy. What follows is another conversation I will not soon forget.
"What are you doing?" We are in the Apartment. She is seated on the small, salmon colored damask love seat across from mine. She had been watching the horses graze in the middle field, just outside our window there, and reporting to me the status of the rain based on pond-surface activity.
"Ironing his shirts." I totally resisted the urge to say painting elephants. I congratulated myself silently.
"Why do you iron his shirts?" She was looking at me squarely now, her eight year old frame sitting as tall and straight as it could, her attention no longer divided between me, the rain, and the horses.
"Well, it's just part of how I take care of him." She blinked those long, feathery eye lashes but said nothing. "I mean, he keeps me really safe and makes sure we have enough money for everything we need, and I take care of the animals and iron his shirts and stuff."
"Oooohhh." Then she leaned forward dramatically, smiling with her eyes closed, and inhaled the steam from my iron. "I just love that smell!"
"Me too, I love the way hot cotton smells, and sometimes I spray his cologne on his shirts after."
She giggled when some cold spray starch fell on her bare feet and shins. And we discussed how it could possibly reach our feet beneath the ironing board. Then she resumed the interrogation.
"But why do yoooouuuu iron them?" Her little face shook at the exaggerated vowel sounds.
"Well, the thing is, he earns all of our money. Aaaannnd he does all of the hard work around here, all of the heavy jobs and the tough jobs, and I do the pretty stuff like gardening and cooking and ironing." I shook my face a little at my own exaggerated vowel sounds.
"Umm, yes. And shopping." I searched her sweet face and grinned with hot guilt. She had been reminding me every three and a half hours that we needed to drive to town to replace a tire on one of the tricycles and also buy a chain for a forgotten bike we had unearthed from the barn the day before. "Also, sweetie, he doesn't really like to iron shirts. I think he would wash his own clothes if he had to, but I don't think he would iron them."
"Right, probably not." She collapsed backward into the love seat and shuffled her tiny feet. I love, by the way, that she just flatly agreed with me on this. Made my day.
"And if he went to the office with wrinkly shirts your Mom would totally make fun of him." Her Mom, our friend, works at the Commish too.
At this, her lush eyebrows arched with profound understanding, that serious look of innocent business that only an eight year old girl can convey. "Yeah, that's definitely true."
If You Need to Get Your Life in Perspective,
Talk to an Eight year Old.
Borrow One if You Have to.