Sticks and Stones

Yesterday, while removing a load of laundry from the dryer, I found six stones. Stones in your dryer is preferable to stones in, say, your gall bladder, and yet it’s not something most people relish finding.

These particular six must have already been through the washer, and were politely waiting right inside the door when I opened the dryer.

A smarter person than myself might make more of a habit of checking pockets before doing a load of jeans. But, obviously, I’m not a smarter person than myself. Nope.

I do actually check pockets about half the time. The other half the time – if the clothes don’t crunch strangely when I grab them or weigh noticeably more than they otherwise would – any hapless rocks, credit cards, money or small sticks that lie in the pockets are going to get the ride of their inanimate lives.

We’re all guilty around here of forgetting to clear our pockets, but Charlotte is the worst offender by far.

She has a fondness for rocks that borders on obsession and is only surpassed by her great adoration of branches and twigs. Our back yard is twig paradise. We have eight trees back there that love to shed both large and small branches when it’s windy or rainy. Therefore, we have acquired quite a formidable pile of sticks that we keep off to the side of the yard and use for firewood.

But, the newly fallen branches still lying on the grass are fair game for my kid and her neighbor friend.

Out of motherly concern, I asked her one day if they were making a bad habit of hitting each other with sticks. She assured me that they just use them “like light sabers” but don’t really hit each other with them “too much.” That comforted me somehow. I told her to be sure not to aim at Allison’s face and the conversation was over.

It may seem a little odd, but the stick wars and stone collecting warm my heart in a way. She’s growing and changing constantly. She wouldn’t see Piglet’s Big Movie with me, because it’s too “babified.” She recently got her first backpack with no pop stars or cartoon characters on it. She even learned to ride a bicycle the other day.*

So, call me sentimental, but I cherish finding rocks in the dryer. Rocks in my dryer remind me that I have a few more years before my baby moves away from home.

I’m going to save them.

*I’d like to take credit for “teaching” her to ride, but it doesn’t work that way. You give a kid a bike, and nature takes over from there. She was pretty scared of falling off at first. I told her to just stand there and fall over with it just once. She did. Then I said, “So, you’re alive? Not crippled?” She looked up at me and said, “No, I’m fine.”

Soon after that, she took right to it like a yuppie to sushi. I was so proud of her and smiled so hard for two solid hours afterward that my face started to ache from grinning. No doubt I got a few new laugh lines that day.

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