Dirty Jeans *
She meant well. Maybe she just didn’t know about little boys and bugs and worms and rusty nails and fish.
Maybe it’s because she grew up with no brothers. Maybe it’s because she wasn’t a boy. Maybe it’s because she was used to a clean house. Maybe it’s because she didn’t like the smell of fish.
She was startled when she saw the boy’s pants on the floor—they were moving. When she finally got nerve to approach them, she jiggled the jeans and a frog fell to the floor and hopped across the room.
When the mother came home, the babysitter explained the mystery of the moving pants, asking the lady about the bugs, worms and rusty nails she’d shaken from the holey and dirty jeans.
“Oh, you had a normal day. He’s always coming home with critters and odds and ends in his pockets. When he plays outside, he usually goes through at least two pair of pants a day. What with his trips to the fields, the woods and the pond, he’s a one man expedition.
“In the beginning I didn’t know how to deal with him. He was always dirty, full of energy, bringing home stuff. He was often cut or bruised. And did I mention…hungry? He’s a boy. That’s what boys do. Dismantle stuff. Bring home things you don’t want in the house. They grime their bodies. “At first I didn’t understand. I complained to my neighbor Cy. Told him my little boy was a mess. That he was always dirty, bedraggled or bleeding. He didn’t like baths. He preferred dirt to soap. “My Little Guy brought home fish and asked me how to ‘fix’ them. I didn’t want them in my kitchen. I didn’t know how to ‘fix’ them. But I learned. I asked Cy. He showed me how to clean and cook fish. Then I taught my son.
“Cy told me my son was experiencing the blessings of boyhood.
“I didn’t want to deny my son those boyhood blessings. I learned that it wasn’t MY kitchen. Even more important, in his wise, old way, my neighbor showed me that there was something more valuable than my kitchen. And I told my boy to bring those smelly fish into the kitchen whenever he wanted. And he did, along with the rusty nails, bugs and worms.”
–Little Pea Pickin’ Larry, spring 2014
*Sub title: The Kitchen or the Boy Boy
How often do we marginalize those we love…perhaps assuming we’ll have them forever? Or how often do we place more value on stuff than we do on people? While contemplating these ideas, I thought it would be nice to take a closer look…at a boy, a babysitter, a parent and a gentleman whose decisions were based on their experiences. I wanted to portray the benefits of knowledge… and to show that personal relationships are more valuable than things—in Alaska and beyond.