“Once upon a time there was a bouncing baby boy. He grew up to become the President of the United States,” the mother began as she tucked her son into bed.
“Was his name Robert, like my dad’s?” the little red-head asked.
“Well, no. But many presidents have been related to bouncing baby boys like your dad named Robert,” the mother smiled and sat on the edge of her son’s bed.
“My dad isn’t a bouncing baby boy!” declared the indignant son.
“Neither is he the President of the United States,” responded the mother. She patted her son’s arm. “So, once upon a time, there was a bouncing baby boy who grew up to be your father Robert, and there was another bouncing baby boy who grew up to become the President of the United States. His name was…”
“Abraham Lincoln? Or George Washington?” interrupted the child.
“No. His name was Donald,” ventured the mother. She dropped her voice as if she spoke a name that was shameful. She looked down at her hands. Then she looked at her son’s face and his beautiful eyes that changed from those of a little toddler’s into a young man’s within moments.
How was she to talk to her son about men like Donald or his own father? How was she to warn him about disrespecting women and mothers? How was she supposed to talk to him about rape and about honor? About honoring a mother who did her best to protect her children from the cruelty of a world ran by dictators and predators.
“Trump!” exclaimed the red-head. His big, goofy grin made his mother’s heart fill with joy. At thirteen, he still seemed so innocent.
“No. Not Trump,” she blinked. This was not the right time. He didn’t need to know why his dad said he was afraid of her. His dad was deathly afraid of being ridiculed in public. His dad desperately needed to be protected from his own shame. “Duck. His last name was Duck, and he grew up to be the President of the United Sates.”
“Donald Duck! Mom! You’re making things up again,” her son laughed.
“Oh no. No. Everything I tell you is the truth,” the mother looked at her son and locked his eyes. She smiled. “You are a good person. You have a good heart. I know your spirit and I can tell you have a spirit of love. You are a lot like me…you like Mother Goose, right? Remember Mother Goose?”
“Mother Goose is for babies!” the young man rolled his eyes.
His mother laughed. “Tell that to your children when you let them know their grandma is Mother Goose.”
“Mom, you’re not Mother Goose! That’s outrageous!”
“Yes. I am,” insisted his mother. “But it’s okay. You don’t have to tell anyone if you don’t want to. You can just tell them that your mother is Henny Penny, or Hickety Pickety, or the Mother Hen. Or you can tell them that your mom is Chicken Little. You can tell them I said it feels like the sky is falling since you and my other little egg-heads were taken out of my life.”
“But I’m right here. You are sitting on the edge of my bed and we are talking!” the boy took his mother’s hand in his. He squeezed his mother’s hand and smiled at her, “It’s okay, mom. Sometimes I pretend, too.”
“So, where were we? Oh, yes. Once upon a time there was a land that had many borders to it. It looked like a huge patch work quilt full of smaller and smaller patch work quilts with patches of land, borders, and boundaries. Some were invisible social boundaries, or moral boundaries.
It was a land full of birds. That is how I met your father. He flew over here from across the pond to become Robert the Rooster. I’ll tell you more adventures of Robert the Rooster and Mother Goose later. So, when you were around eight years old, Donald Duck became president and your mother began to figure a few things out about storytelling. Donald Duck and Robert the Rooster both screwed up along the way. Most men who engage in duck-like behavior eventually do,” the mother sighed. “You know, a male duck will drown a female duck trying to get what he wants. Either that, or he will drown the female duck under a ton of work, trauma, and pressure while he struts around like your father, Robert the Rooster. You know, the hen delivers the eggs while the rooster does all the crowing and all that,” she smiled and nodded.
“Mom, I don’t think he likes it when you call him that,” the son looked at her without smiling.
“Well, I’m the Mother Hen, so you explain why the story of Robert the Rooster fits!” his mother ran her fingers through her thinning hair. She looked at her hand. “See? I’m molting!”
“You’re funny, mom!” the son yawned. “But you’re not a bird. You’re not a chicken or a goose. You’re just a mom who is trying to tell me something. But I don’t know exactly what it is.”
“Exactly! I love you, son! That’s exactly it!” his mother clapped her hands together. “I want you to know that I love you. I love you with the fierceness of all the eagles in the world and with the renewing love of the eternal Phoenix! My love will continually rise up out of ashes, no matter how many times those moments of happiness with each other get taken away from us. I miss getting to create our stories together. That is why I am still here in Bird Land, looking toward help from a new president while abiding in the state of Empty Nest Syndrome with you over in La La Land with your dad, Robert the Rooster, made in the image of the Big Rooster in the Sky while our whole nation of eagles and vultures get ready to eat Turkey and give thanks for vegetarians and Democrats who know how to carry on intelligent conversations about how to be thankful for corn and beans and how to restore innocent Angels to their Mother Hens in an unprecedented act of rational thinking.”
“Mom,” yawned the boy, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
The mother looked at her son. His eyes closed. He was so young. Yesterday, he was only eight years old. Her children were all forever four years old…eight or nine tops.
Lawyers, judges, and comedians were looked at through the lens of a Middle School student. It was the only way she could forgive anyone.
“I love you, son,” she said again.
“I love you, too, mom.”