I tiptoed through the tulips with my sixteen-something son at the Dallas Arboretum's big "Dallas Blooms" spring event for several hours today. It was a near miracle that he chose this outing with his old mom on his only day off from work at the bank during spring break. For many years a trip to the Arboretum was a powerful threat in the Mommy arsenal. "If you boys don't quit that, I'm taking you all to the Arboretum!" "No, Mom, no, PLEASE! We'll be good!"
I marvel that one of my little ninja turtles could grow up to be a nature photographer, and a mighty darn good one at that. For twenty-one years now I've been the mother of boys, immersed in mud, sand, bugs, Tonka trucks, Hot Wheels, toy farm implements, toilet-training, volcanoes, dinosaurs, Legos, falling into duck ponds, fishing ponds, and zoo exhibits, buzz cuts, fishing tackle, karate punches, tool sets, sword fights, camouflage, canteens, Ghostbusters, model train layouts, G.I. Joe amputees, baseball trivia, computer dogfights, science fiction, Civil War reenactments, trumpet practice, cigarette lighters, sweat-petrified soccer socks, smelly casts, chess strategy, crutches, melting green army men with magnifying glasses, creek-soaked Keds, falling off roofs, slide-tackling, muddy cleats, used car classifieds, oil leaks on driveways, guitar lessons, and mustaches.
My 35 mm slr camera weighs ten times as much as his digital camera. I forget to take my zoom lens into the Arboretum. My arm shakes with my "ET" essential tremor. He contorts his body around trees and pillars to get stunning shots he can instantly save or discard. We take photos of the same subjects. We marvel at the glorious afternoon, and get slightly sunburned. He listens to my tales of the many times he and his brothers fell into ponds, escaped from grocery carts, or refused to be buckled into their car safety seats. I remember him in fuzzy fleece one-piece pajamas, pulling himself up to stand in the crib. This little Raffi duck song addict who knew what street we were driving on when he was too little to even see out the car window! The same one who listened to the "Little Mermaid" soundtrack every naptime, and Texas Rangers baseball broadcasts to fall asleep many nights. Who sobbed inconsolably at the fleeting nature of rainbows, hot air balloon flights, and goldfish lives. The funny little kid who stayed sane through his parents' divorce by swinging on a rope over a shallow creek... and who continues to amaze his old mom. I hope he will remember this day as I will!