Saturday, May 3, 2008

This One's for You, Son

It's pretty likely that many of you have noticed that I tend to recap my life in moments. Hilarious moments, sentimental moments, humiliating moments, emotional moments , and so on and so forth. There have been so many instances in my life where I have nothing much to say except "that was the moment". They are the times in my life where, if it were a movie, the screen would freeze and the main character would say just that, "that was the moment". Well, tonight was one of those instances....

We had tickets to see Sesame Street Live at the Chevrolet Center in Youngstown but had kept it a secret from the kids all the way up until Big Bird came on stage. (I inherited this sneakiness from my parents who's surprise "i love you presents" were huge memory-makers). I think Nate and I were more excited than the kids. We got them all dressed up and told them over and over that we were going somewhere special and it was a super secret surprise! We filled the jeep up with gas (if the kids could understand how much cash it takes to drive all the way to Youngstown, they would have felt spoiled without even seeing Elmo!), splurged on some Starbucks for ourselves and hit the road.

Well, we were no further than Tallmadge when Noah started to cry. Maybe cry isn't the right word... he started to scream. If you have kids you know the one I'm talking about, that high pitched, top of the lungs, angry sounding scream. The kind equivalent to having bamboo shoots shoved under your fingernails while Roseanne Bar sings the National Anthem. Torture. Despite my attempts to quite, calm, and bribe him, he continued this rampage pretty much nonstop until we pulled into the parking lot.

By the time we got to our seats (which we had to climb over a billion people, their kids, strollers, diaper bags, toys, and snacks to get to) he had pretty much settled down due to the hullabaloo that makes up a Sesame Street Live show. Can I just pause here and tell you, on a side note, what a lucrative business kid's entertainment really is? I mean, talk about making money hand over fist! They've got balloons, cotton candy, hot pretzels. They've got toys you could get at the dollar store for a buck selling for $20 a pop! They know that if it's got Elmo, Zoe, or the newly popular Abby Cadaby on it, parents will buy it! Even the thriftiest mom at home, will, once her brain is foggy from the cotton candy-popcorm haze, will break out the greenbacks for a cheap, plastic, light-up, spinning Ernie to keep her kid happy and most importantly, quiet. I can admit that I myself (due more to the screaming than to the aforementioned haze) would have bought Noah a CookieMonster-blue Hummer with Elmo-red fur upholstery if that would have made him happy! Isn't it amazing how one minute you are a young person at an arena seeing a rock concert complaining about the price of drinks, and the next minute you are a parent seeing Elmo (or Dora or the Backyardigans) at the very same arena complaining about the price of helium balloons?

Anyway, like I was saying, we did in fact, make it to our seats. But Noah was so not on my top ten list of favorite people. So I was less than pleased when he began squirming angrily out of Nate's lap shouting "Mama, I need you! Mama I need you!" which I normally find endearing. Here we go again i thought. So in order to keep him from launching round two of the crying, I scooped him up and redirected his attention toward the sage where he was thankfully distracted by the Number of the Day. Nate went out to the lobby and bought some popcorn, soda, a hot pretzel and a huge red Elmo balloon which only cost him $764.39. Everyone was happy. Even Noah... even me.

At one point in the show, Rosita (Muchacha Fantastica) sings Twinkle Twinkle to a sleepy Big Bird. It was a quiet part of the show. The arena was dark. Then they did that thing where they shine a spotlight on a spinning disco ball and the whole place sparkles with spinning, dancing lights. Noah had never seen such a thing before. He looked up and pulled in all his breath, in awe, and practically whispered "Mama! Look!" His face was so bright, so full of wonder, so amazed by a simple trick of lights and mirrors and.... that was the moment.

That was the moment. And I was filled with a sense of wonder, and love, and joy, and as strange as it sounds, loss. Because you see, the moment was, as every moment is, so fleeting. Noah will possibly never again be enthralled by simple spinning lights. And a time will come when he won't cry out "Mama I need you!", when he will go this very same arena to see rock concerts with his friends or girlfriend, instead of to Sesame Street with his parents.

All the way home, as the kids were whining that they were thirsty and fighting over the $879 Elmo balloon, I tried as hard as I could to burn the memory of his little face uplifted, his round little cheeks covered in theater butter, his dark brown eyes shining brighter than I ever thought possible, into my mind. And so I confess to you now, that I write this not only because I wanted to share this memory with you, but because I want to be able to read it myself someday, because I am terrified of losing this moment, like we lose so many others, of letting the picture I have of my son as he is right now, fade away.

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