Friday, January 18, 2008

THINKING OF MICE (24 years ago)

Women are supposed to sew clothes for their kids. That’s what I thought. I didn’t like to sew. I didn’t want to sew. But I was supposed to sew, especially since Aunt Dorothy had given me a sewing machine a long time ago, a sewing machine that would have been collecting dust if it weren’t tucked neatly into it’s case. In the closet. In the spare room. Behind a closed door.

I decided to make some pajamas for four-year-old Bentley. I bought seersucker fabric in a cute print—it would be cool for summer, I thought. But summer came and they still weren’t made. Bentley slept in large T-shirts. I don’t know why I didn’t think this was okay. I fretted about the pajamas all summer. Because I was supposed to sew.

Mom and Dad came up to see us in late July. “Why don’t you just get in and make them,” she said.

“I don’t know, Mom. You sew all the time. You like it. Every time I sew I end up giving the half finished, awful looking item to DI. I hate it. Why don’t you take the fabric home and make the jammies? You can give them to Bentley for his birthday.”

She thought that was a good idea and so did I. On his birthday there was a soft package wrapped with bright colored curly ribbons dripping off the top. Mom and Dad were anxiously watching him open the gift we all knew he’d love. He took the paper off and stood there. No emotion. Nothing. His eyes looked at the ceiling. I thought maybe he didn’t know what they were.

“They’re jammies,” I said.

The ceiling-looker said nothing.

I took them out of his hands, shook them out of their folded state and said, “See? Jammies,” They looked like they'd fit perfectly.

Nothing.

“Don’t you like them? Grandma made them just for you,” I said.

“I’m thinking of mice,” Bentley said in a quiet voice.

Everyone in the room leaned forward, even the kids, Trent, Taylor and Hillary. “What?” everyone said in unison.

“I’m thinking of mice.”

I looked at Mom. I could tell her feelings were a little bit hurt. “If you don’t like them I know a little boy in Annabella who would love them. Should I take them to him?”

Mother had used this tactic on me all my life. If there were something I didn’t like she threatened to give it away. It worked on me because I was probably selfish but Bentley knew what he liked and what he didn’t and he didn’t like those jammies.

“Okay,” he said with a shrug of his shoulders.

I never did find out what Mom did with the jammies. I didn’t want to remind her that her ungrateful grandson didn’t like her gift so I never mentioned them again.

“I’m thinking of mice,” has become Snyder family code for “I really don’t like this but I’m too polite to say so right to your face.” It hasn’t been used a lot, but enough. I’m thinking of mice right now, as I write this story that I really can’t do justice to.

3 comments:

Ekim said...

I love the story but am more intrigued by the final paragraph.

Colette Amelia said...

pashaw! the story and the way it was told was wonderful! I am really enjoying the story of your mother...somehow it is comforting to know that there are many who have difficulties and through determination and a sense of humour we can get through it! Thanks for sharing all your stories Lynne!

whirligigdaisy said...

This story is hilarious.