I woke up extra early because today was the day of Owen's Christmas pageant. I made the coffee, scanned the headlines, and heard the phone ring. And right away, I knew.
Owen's teacher explained that the parking lot was icy, and she felt it was best to cancel the pageant. "I'll see you in January," she said.
I hung up the phone, and felt tired. Oh so tired, and oh so sad. I called Paul's parents and told them not to make the drive, and to save the Christmas cookies and cheesy toast for another time. I told Paul to go ahead and get ready for work. And then, I cried a little.
Owen had gone from being violently opposed to the whole idea to okay with it to being downright excited about his "project" as he called it. He was going to be a shepherd and his costume was going to be blue and he was going to sing songs about angels and Mary rocking her baby.
There was going to be birthday cake for Jesus and apple slices, and he had surprises for his Mommy and Daddy. (I think he had made an angel craft for us, and that he had wrapped it too---I don't know because he told us it was a surprise. For the first time in his life, he got to hold a secret in his hands like a firefly.)
Now, there will be no birthday cake, and when I see the angel in January, it will be admired briefly, than packed away for another season. I will never see three-year-old Owen in his blue shepherd costume.
None of these things are tragedies, but I'm not going to apologize for mourning them, just a little.
Paul held me for a moment, and absorbed a bit of my disappointment. Soon, we heard Owen creep down the stairs.
I collected myself, and told Owen that he wasn't having his pageant, because of the icy parking lot.
"What happens when the water turns to ice?" he asked, as he slowly rolled the peanut butter around his mouth.
"Well, it makes it slippery," I said.
"Why does it make it slippery?" he asked.
"Because the water is smooth, instead of rough," I said.
"But why?" he continued.
We talked about the water cycle and dizzy tires and how Lightening McQueen would move on the icy roads, for about five more minutes. Our conversation, as always, went beyond my scientific and philosophical understandings, each "why" stretching my reasoning like a worn rubber band.
This revealed the obvious: Owen was not heartbroken about missing the pageant. This was all me.
I'm still not apologizing about it. I'm proud of my kid, and I want to cheer for him. I want his grandparents to cheer for him. I want the small universe of his preschool to acknowledge him and his classmates. Here he is. My Owen. The shepherd in blue.
And yet, things happen. Crying and sighing isn't going to change anything. And besides, I thought to myself, "I'm sure Mary didn't want to have a baby in some barn, either."
Do you see my vicarious Mary guilt? I'm not even Catholic, and I'm thinking of the poor Blessed Mother.
Those Catholics are good.
I decided, for everybody's sake, to have a mini-concert, right in our kitchen. I dressed Owen in a blue towel, gave him a painting rod, and found an alligator and pig to herd. He immediately vetoed the towel, but sang his songs in his own, Owen-like fashion.
It was beautiful and sacred.
I love the little guy.