The other morning, for fun, I asked L what cool meant. He said "smart". That made me happy, and all at once I recalled a memory I had forgotten about for years.
The summer after fourth grade, we moved. I started fifth grade in a new school and it took a while to settle in with new friends.
The first classmate's birthday I was invited to was a big deal. A few days before the party I asked my dad to pick up the gift for her while he was out: a troll (duh!)
Our new town was small and rural. Too small for a toy store or a Target... not even a kmart or a dollar store for two hours in any direction. He checked the grocery store and came back empty-handed. What do you buy for a friend's birthday present when there aren't troll dolls? I couldn't imagine.
It was unacceptable. It had to be a troll. He eventually found an off-brand, too-big doll in a tourtisty gift shop, and I was so relieved! A generic troll was better than no troll. I wrapped it up and the crisis was averted.
It was only later, on the way to the party, that I started having doubts. What if kids here didn't collect trolls and make troll clothes for them? How could they, if there weren't any within a 90-mile radius?! What if trolls weren't cool!!? Especially this designer imposter!
I wanted to turn around and skip the party. We didn't find her house right away, and I still remember the dread in my stomach. I wanted to tell my dad to forget the whole thing, but how could I explain it? I had been so excited. If I opened my mouth I was going to start crying. He eventually found her house and luckily she must have liked it, or had enough manners to pretend she did, because I don't remember anything else about that day.
I've been thinking quite a bit about that old story over the last few days. That was one of my first moments of self-doubt and I was nine. Nine! I always think of M as oblivious and blissfully unaware, but he's only 7! How could I have forgotten?
Nine. I only hope my kids can hold out that long, and keep thinking cool means smart.
In a wonderful twist of serendipity, this morning L asked me if we could make clothes for his "Bunny Bob". We did. Crappy, ill-fitting clothes just like my sister and I used to make for our trolls.