Kids in our neighborhood are usually on the lookout for activity in anyone’s yard. They have learned to be cautious and check to see whether I’m in a kind, receptive mood as they approach me. I tell them if I want to be alone. Since they are so anxious to “help” with anything I allow them to, they often barge right in.
We had finished two large jars of pickles, and joyfully left them out of our refrigerator glad for the space. I might have poured the juice down the kitchen sink, but I decided to dump them outside. I set the glass jars near the kitchen door to take out.
Five-year old, Alex, who lives near by, was talking to my daughter outside. When I opened the door to see if she would help me get rid of the jars of juice, he noticed them immediately. With the inquisitive nature that never falters, Alex asked, “What are those?” pointing to the jars.
“Pickle juice,” I answered, “What do you think I should do with it?”
As my question struck him, I was certain he had never been confronted with the idea of doing anything with pickle juice before. “What you gonna do with it?” he asked.
“I’m gonna dump it on the weeds by the compost pile,” I said, “or I could dump one jar on your head and one on hers.” I smiled, pointing to my 13-year-old.
As they both grinned at the “silly mom,” Alex said, “I think you should dump it in the weeds now.”
I don’t spend much time with Alex anymore. When he was 6 months old, he came to our house at 5 in the morning and stayed till mid-afternoon six days a week while his mother worked. She quit working a year later to stay home with him. He had changed from the red hair of babyhood to a platinum towhead with a generous spattering of freckles under his bright blue eyes.
“Will you help me?” I asked him. “You take one and I’ll take one.” Such earnest satisfaction came over his face as I handed him a jar of juice. With purposeful steps, we carried our jars. He watched me take the lid off mine and pour. He handled his the same way I had, and looked at me for approval.
Before we put the lids back on, I wondered aloud, “Which one did you have, dill or sweet?”
Without considering the labels (and he couldn’t read them), we stuck our noses in our jars. I smelled cloves. “I had the sweet!” I declared. “Yours must be dill.”
I sniffed his, “Can you smell garlic?” I asked him. He checked his jar again.
I held my jar out to him “Smell the cloves and spices?”
He lingered over mine. “I like sweet pickles,” he said. “I like dill, too, but I like sweet best.”
“I like both, too,” I told him. Then a little rhyme came to me and my “silly mom” side had to share it with him:
When Alex dumped the dill
And I poured out the sweet,
We sniffed our jars and wished
for more pickles to eat.
Looking delighted with my words he said, “Say that again.”
I tried to remember just what I had said as we made our way back to the house. As I went inside, I was blessed, again with one of the many wonders about children – they can make such simple things so special.