I ask the three year old what he wants for Christmas. He says, "Mushy Grandpa."
"What's that?" I ask. Our sitter -- who's been with us a long time now -- has an odd sense of humor. And I'm never really surprised when the three year old points to a girl in a TV show and says something like, "I bet dat girl has one hairy toe." Or when he tells stories about weird, sickly cats that have hairballs or refuses to play with me because I won't speak with a British accent -- the sitter's mother is British and when he pretends to be her, I have to be British or, alas, it all falls apart and I'm just me.
"Mushy grandpa is ..." He's all whispery now. "A dog that poops all de time!"
"We have two of those." Our dogs poop plenty.
"Mushy grandpa is not a real dog!"
I try to catch the three year old off guard and ask him what he wants -- you know, while he's falling asleep or waking up, while he himself is pooping ... -- hoping for a different answer. No luck. The answer is always the same. He wants mushy grandpa.
I ask the sitter what mushy grandpa is. She has no idea -- or she's not talkin'.
He keeps telling me mushy grandpa is a dog that poops all the time and it's all he wants.
So I set out to find dog poop. I was trying to shop locally or small-biz this Christmas. But fake dog poo NOT made in China? I wasn't optimistic. Alas, I scored. Fake poo on www.Etsy.com. It hasn't shipped yet. And I buy a soft plush stuffed dog.
Meanwhile, my 15 year old daughter says to me yesterday, "I know what Mushy Grandpa really is."
"It's not a dog that poops all the time?"
"He confessed that he made it up. He said to me today, 'Mushy grandpa isn't a dog dat poops all de time. I was pwetending.' And I said, 'Then what is it?' And he said, 'A mirror.'"
At this point I'm worried. Is this a metaphorical mirror, a soul mirror, a thing that reflects the true self? In other words: a psychological test to see if I'm a fit mother. (Does a fit mother buy a three year old American-made fake dog poo? I fret.)
My 15 year old says, "Then he said, 'Mushy grandpa is a ballerina.'"
Was this a Black Swan reference? Something about perfectionism? I haven't yet seen the film but, let's face it, the hype is EVERYwhere.
This is the moment of truth. I've been messed with.
The kid comes in just now while I'm typing to announce he's just stepped on a "dinky."
"A dinky that goes down the dairs." His s's aren't fully formed.
"A slinky!" I say. "I'm sorry about that."
He limps over.
I say, "What's mushy grandpa?"
He points at something on my desk and says, "What's dat?" (Classic.)
"What's mushy grandpa?" I stick with my line of questioning.
"Where did you buy dat?"
It's a fruity chapstick. There's little this kid loves more than fruity chapstick. You gotta watch him with it still because he eats it. "I'll let you smell the chapstick if you tell me what mushy grandpa is."
He stares at me. "It's a ball."
I let him smell the chapstick.
I wait a minute. "What's mushy grandpa?"
He smiles. "A ball."
"What ELSE is mushy grandpa?"
I keep typing.
Then he says, "Mushy grandpa is a basket. And a poop."
"Does mushy grandpa change?"
"Yes!" And then there's a dramatic pause. "It's a poop."
This is my life, I think. You just wouldn't guess it and then, here it is! Life.
And in my current life, I check the mailbox daily ... for what?
Mushy grandpa, of course.