Smelly Socks: The many wonders of a creative mind
John and our youngest son, Jamison, went off on a truly "manly adventure." They headed off on a camping trip with my co-columnist's husband, Joe. The beautiful mountains of Colorado awaited them for some primitive camping.
John has a "new to him" Toyota Land Cruiser, and the Land Cruiser group he is a member of has an annual "100s in the Hills" primitive camping and trail run that John just had to be a part of this year.
Austin wasn't due to return from the Northside Baptist Church camp before John and Jamison left for their adventure, so he and I had to stay home. I really didn't mind missing this trip too much since the idea of a couple of days without the convenience of a bathroom or hot running water honestly didn't excite me.
So I was making the noble sacrifice of missing the camping trip and staying home with Austin. After thinking about my choice, I was really looking forward to some significant one-on-one time with my oldest child.
My calm 9-year-old, Jamison, is always so methodical and steady in all that he attempts. Everything he does has a purpose, and he takes great pains and infinite joy in the simple act of figuring things out.
Because Jamison is so completely opposite of myself, I become engrossed in watching him figure out a plan, then seeing him go after things with his tools and not stopping until he has success.
Because of our differences, I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I have glossed over some of the creative instincts that my oldest son, 12-year-old Austin, comes by so naturally. He and I are of a similar mindset.
In my attempt to spend some time with my vivacious Austin, he and I went to see some movies and visited with my parents while we were on our own for a week. But most of all, we had the opportunity to talk and really listen to one another.
I talked to him about starting middle school and recanting some of our memorable summer excursions. Since I have strong creative tendencies and have always enjoyed writing and creating stories, this time spent with Austin had made me wonder if my oldest is going to follow suit.
With the many trips back and forth to Victoria over the week that Austin and I made, we had a good time seeing who could create the most intriguing stories.
With a sly grin and a glint in his eyes, Austin would amaze me with how detailed and factual he could be in telling a "secret agent story" right down from what caliber gun the agent used to the type of vintage 64 Ferrari GTO with Borrani wire wheels the agent drove.
I can only deduce that his flair had to come from all the time he spent visiting with my father when Austin was younger. When those two got together, it was either a stealthy game of hide-and-seek or lying on his bed with Popsy telling the most outlandish stories of "Jack Austin Bloom and the Beanstalk" or a vivid story about a suave and debonair "Jack Austin Bloom the Amazing Cat Burglar."
You can never tell what grandchildren will pick up from grandparents who appear to be going through their second childhood.
On one such occasion, the giggles coming from the room Austin and Popsy had chosen to use for their storytelling adventures were louder and longer than usual. I thought that I had better go in and check it all out.
As I came around the corner, it appeared that their storytelling had evolved into acting out the plot. Austin with an old ski mask, a black T-shirt and a pair of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles underwear was sneaking up on an unsuspecting captain of the detectives who was staked out, sitting on the floor beside the foot of Austin's bed.
Just as I was about to leave them and return to the kitchen, Popsy sprung from the floor and said, "I've got you now, Jack Austin Bloom. You will not elude me this time."
A roar of laughter came from deep down in Austin as he scrambled across the bed to his hiding place at the head of the bed that was protected by a high-voltage electric fence, or as I refer to them, his bed pillows and rolled up comforter.
Jamison, with his love of tools and construction, and Austin, with his creativity, make for quite a package at home. Everything normally meshes well when we all get together, and you don't seem to notice your children's individual talents as much as you do when you have them by themselves for a length of time.
Hopefully, Austin's creativity and Jamison's love of construction can be channeled in the right direction. Spending this time with Austin has made me aware of how much your kids pick up from you.
Austin can still remember every one of the stories that Popsy told him when he was much younger and he was being entertained. Jamison still clutches tight to the red toolbox loaded up with tools that Mimi and Popsy gave him.
He uses the tools the way that Popsy taught him and knows the various tools names and the proper uses for each. As I am writing this column, he is outside, tightening the screws on a bird feeder he constructed.
When John and Jamison returned from their "manly camping trip," I was filled in on all of the details of their adventure. Jamison told me about the rainstorms they had experienced in Colorado while in their tent and all of the various night sounds they heard.
He even quietly informed me so earnestly, "Mom, you wouldn't have liked it very much." Later in in the day, I overheard Jamison filling Austin in on the experiences of the trip. As Jamison got to the part about all of the sounds that were outside the tent, I heard Austin chime in trying to contain a little laugh with, "maybe it was a bear with long, sharp teeth and huge claws that was outside your tent. Or," he chuckled as he continued, "the sounds could have come from Bigfoot."
Next, I heard Jamison reply, "Yeah, maybe it was. Maybe I was sleeping right next to Bigfoot; he could have been like two feet away." As I appeared around the corner, I thought I would witness Austin's sly grin and twinkle in his eyes, but much to my surprise it was Jamison's expression instead.
Perhaps I have two storytellers in the bunch, as Jamison hurried to tell me a drawn-out story about seeing Bigfoot in the mountains of Colorado and how he was very brave, and "he could see his hairy, gross feet out of the tent window, and he could even smell his stinky breath through the cold night air."
John and I are blessed to have two boys who are so very different and yet so alike. Our household never seems to get boring. When one child doesn't think of a story, you can rest assured that the other one will.
As their parents, we are going to have quite a job ahead of us. We need to provide Austin and Jamison with examples to follow and instill qualities that will serve them well in their future.
Johanna is a proud seventh-generation Texan. She lives on her family's South Texas ranch with her husband and two lively boys. Email Johanna Bloom or Anita Spisak at email@example.com.