My grandmother passed away 10 years ago this month. Her memorial service was held at the church she’d worked at for most of her adult life, and it was the first time my whole family had been together since my grandfather had passed away 10 years before that.
The night before the service, we’d all gone out for dinner, then spent a few hours walking around San Diego’s Gaslamp District. At some point, someone (either my aunt or my dad) had purchased a stuffed dragon for my oldest son.
He’s obsessed with dragons, has been since he was super tiny.
The next day, we had the memorial, then went to the gravesite to watch my grandmother’s ashes be placed next to my grandfather’s, then we all went out to lunch before beginning our individual long trips home.
My uncle P. thinks he’s a jokester. My oldest did not have much of a sense of humour (he would FLIP OUT if anyone dared to tell him he was being silly), so he was an easy target for P.’s shenanigans. P. had been teasing my oldest (then only) about his new dragon all day.
“Oh, that’s not a dragon, that looks like a giraffe!”
Someone decided it would be a good idea to sit them next to each other for lunch.
Everyone was eating and laughing and talking about my grandmother. It was a good time.
Until my son realized that his brand new dragon was missing.
He got up from his seat and started searching frantically.
Finally, he turned to P. and asked “Uncle P., have you seen my dragon?”
“What, you mean that crocodile you’ve been carrying around?”
“Uncle P., it’s a dragon. Can I have it, please?”
“Oh, that green panda? Nope, haven’t seen it.”
I watched and listened, growing slightly concerned, but mostly wanting to see how this would play out.
Oldest boy asked several times and Uncle P.’s responses grew even more ridiculous.
Finally, my son says in a quiet voice:
“Give me back my dragon, you bastard.”
He then glanced at me and added “Please.”
I gasped. I shrieked “OHMIGAWD, WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?!”
“I SAID. Give. Me. Back. My. Dragon. You. Bastard.”
The table was suddenly full of adults trying not to laugh and one incredibly irate four year old.
Uncle P. handed him back his dragon and I asked where he learned that word.
(I don’t swear in front of my kids, never have. So I should have known the answer that was coming.)
He points at my dad and says “PopPop. He said it last night.”
At that point the entire table and MOST of the surrounding restaurant dissolved into giggles.
…and my uncle is forever now referred to as Uncle Dragon Bastard.
Happy 14th birthday to my oldest. What better way to celebrate than by sharing my favourite story of you as a child? I have a difficult time reconciling the young man you’ve become with the little boy you were, but you make me smile in hundreds of ways every day. I love that you share my love of all things bookish and my loathing of Peter Jackson. I love that you go out of your way to make me laugh with clever wordplay and that you always apologize when you’ve been a little jerk. I love you even though you’re taller than me (SIX FEET TALL ALREADY, WTF?) and you have better hair than I could have ever hoped to have. I love that you’ve always been able to use words in their proper context after hearing them once, and I love you in spite of the fact that you’re now 14 and make me want to tear my hair out.
I love you.