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Can anyone out there in the blogosphere translate the following for me: “Meeps!” This is what Drew whines every time he passes the caladium plant on the front porch. 

The caladium freaked Drew out the other evening when the storm came in. Gordon and Drew were sitting on the front porch watching the rain come down and a great big gust of wind blew through, making the caladiums dance violently in their clay pot. Drew wasn’t terrified by the rain, thunder or lightning. He was terrified by the bouncing and bobbing caladium plant. Ever since, whenever we get home from anywhere and enter through the front door, Drew glances furtively at it and says “MEEPS.” 

Drew’s wariness of delicate leaves has now ALSO transferred to the English ivy that covers the side of our house. Drew happened to be playing near it the other day and   whined at them when a gentle breeze sent the green diamonds fluttering. Then today, we were in the backyard, and he wouldn’t step on any of the early-fallen mulberry leaves that were scattered across the lawn. He avoided them like land mines, which made kicking the beach ball very inconvenient.

And because Guilt is the soup du jour in my mothering life these days, I would like to take this opportunity to blame myself, and to thank the Academy. This week was my long-awaited performance of The Music Man. I have been an absentee mother for the past two weeks as it is, and was gone Thurs/Friday/Saturday, leaving my Music Man Widow aka “Gordon” to wrangle Drew. My absence was made even more keenly painful when I saw Drew for the first time on Sunday and he wouldn’t come to me, hanging onto Gordon’s neck for dear life. I have paid a price for my extracurricular activities, and sometimes I wonder if it has really been worth it.

Because isn’t there an obvious psychological connection between over-committed-performer-mothers and…caladiums?

Maybe Drew’s leaf phobia is just a by-product of his disdain for having anything out of place, which is a little more plausible. Whenever we play peek-a-boo with his blanket and Mommy’s hair gets messed up, Drew is quick to either 1. Whine until I brush my hair out of my face 2. Move the hair back to its previous position himself or 3. Blow on my face in attempt to suggest that at least one of us ought to do something about the situation at hand.

The wild, uncontrollable ambles, rolls and rollicks of leaves—or strands of hair—introduce an element of unpredictability into his very controlled little world. He likes his ducks all in a row, whether for good or bad. Perhaps my obsessive “scheduling” when he was an infant might have something to do with this. Or maybe he comes by his particularity the old, tried and true way: genetically. (Me? Obsessive? Oh, you have no idea. That’s for another time, another blog.) But at any rate, I MUST BE TO BLAME, RIGHT?

Consider this quote from Golda Meir, Israel’s first female Prime Minister: “At work, you think of the children you have left at home. At home, you think of the work you've left unfinished. Such a struggle is unleashed within yourself. Your heart is rent.” And in the middle of a “rent” heart, it is very difficult not to sensationalize all of your child’s quirks as some sort of extension of your maternal failures. But our children’s souls are not mere extensions of our own, and they probably do not mirror back our sins to us as often as we claim. Maybe my kid just has a leaf phobia, and that’s the end of the story. Maybe MEEPS means “It’s Just Me, Mom.”

Man, I hope so…