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December 2006
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February 2007

The story of an angel, a bear, and a boy.

Yesterday morning Raphael leaped into bed to greet me (he is almost always the first one up, making him the prime candidate for drugging).

“MEM!” He bellowed, full of the joy of morning that somehow escapes me. “LOOK!” Under one arm he had his beloved stuffed monkey, Monkey. “Today is Monkey’s BIRTHDAY!”

“Is it now?” I muttered. “Well, then I guess a party’s in order.”

There’s precedence, you know. Max had a beloved teddy bear, named Teddy. Every January for three years Teddy had a birthday party. Any friend of the boys’ was invited, as long as they brought their own stuffed animal to share in the celebration.

It wasn’t just my love of cake fueling the Teddy mania. Teddy was a special bear.

I don’t know if I’ve told this story here before, but I’m going to tell you now where Teddy came from. It’s a miracle, and the sort of thing I need to remember.

It started back when Max was about two and a half. I was pregnant with Raphael, Tre was five and a half. My life was laid out before me, and I could see for miles.

Or so I thought.

My husband at the time came home from work one night with an odd story.

“It’s the weirdest thing,” he said, “I was sitting at the bar, having my shift drink, when this guy came in and sat down next to me. He just sat there, didn’t say anything. Then, just before he left, he pulled out this teddy bear.” He tossed me the bear, dressed in a blue knit sweater. I picked it up and gave it an experimental squeeze. It was soft. “And he said the weirdest thing. He said, ‘Here, take this. Some kid’s gonna need it.’ And then he just left.”

I looked at the bear in my hands.

“What should we do with it?”

He shrugged.

“I dunno. Give it to the church or something, I guess.”

I nodded in agreement. In the meantime, I stuck it in the hall closet.

Well, you know how the hall closet is. It eats things. The bear disappeared into its depths, and I didn’t think about it again for some time.

Six months later the life thought I would have lay around me, in smoking ruins. Raphael was a baby, so that had gone as planned. Tre had turned six, Max had turned three…all as expected.

But my husband had turned into someone I didn’t know, hurt us all, and left.

Gone.

Not just moved out – gone. No visits, no calls.

Gone.

We were all stunned, moving through endless grey-toned days in silence.

One day I opened that hall closet to look for something, and the teddy bear fell out. Max was sitting nearby, and when he saw the bear hit the floor, he scooted over. He picked it up and investigated it as children do. He sniffed it, stuck his finger in its ear, looked under its sweater, and hugged it. He stared up at me and said levelly,

“This is my bear.”

It was not a question, and I nodded back.

“You bet it is.”

Teddy was precious to Max. He was so precious that Max didn’t lose him. Max loses everything, but Teddy he kept close. He made him beds on the stairs, elaborate lumps of blanket and stolen pillows. He told Teddy his secrets. When he was in trouble and sent to his room, it was Teddy who heard long tales about why it wasn't his fault.

Occasionally he’d ask,

“Now…where did I get Teddy?”

At first I said I didn’t remember. But then one day I sat him down and told him the story of his daddy, and the man who had brought him a bear for a kid who would need it.

“That kid was you. And I think that man was an angel.”

Max agreed he must have been. He liked hearing that story, every so often.

Teddy was at Max’s side during the hardest days of his life. I don't know exactly what wounds Max carries with him from those days, because they belong to him, but I know the feel of them. I know what they smell like, what they sound like. In the worst times Max was so angry and stressed that he thrashed and screamed with night terrors five times a night. I would come to his bed, scoop him up, wedge his bear against his chest, and hold him close. It was the best I could do for him during those nights that seemed like they’d never end. It wasn’t nearly, nearly enough.

Max still has night terrors occasionally, and when I hear him call out, petulant and angry, my immediate reaction is frightened rage. I cannot do this, I think, forgetting that I can, I have, and this is an anomaly, not the standard anymore.

No, the standard now is an entirely different one. Max is a happy kid – complex, to be sure, but I think that was inborn. He’s content and confident – so much so that he doesn’t even know where Teddy is today.

I’m pretty sure Teddy’s in a box. I think I’ll try to find him before we celebrate Monkey’s birthday.

I know Max doesn’t need Teddy anymore…

Max_and_teddy_05

…but I’ll always be grateful that he had him when he did.


So...possibly not a life-threatening condition

Here it is, January 29, and it’s hit.

Winter doldrums.

School burnout.

Glumness.

The signs are subtle, but they’re there. For instance, it just occurred to me that tomorrow is another day of school and I sat here, musing that I would rather grate my own eyeballs than look at Tre’s math again tomorrow.

Oh, but it’s not just the math, oh no. It’s the history, with its great pageantry throughout the ages that can be boiled down to “First, this civilization was great. And then they decided to rule the world. Many people died. And then THIS civilization was great.”

Honestly, it’s nothing but wars and different mediums for writing.

There’s the spelling, with all its arcane and arbitrary rules – and YES, THANK YOU, I KNOW they’re not actually arbitrary, because there’s all that LATIN to think about too. Blah. Spelling annoys me greatly because…well, because I’m bad at it. I’m bad at it because it is boring and duh, there is a spell check RIGHT HERE on my computer.

Grammar should be good clean fun for a word geek like me, but my children think it’s funny to sneak in “they’re” for “there” or “your” for you’re” – and then they stand back and watch me rant while they snicker into their workbooks.

I’ve been doing SO VERY WELL this school year. We have been on the freaking ball with the school work – which is a good and fine thing, given that I’ve not yet ever in my life accomplished ALL of a year’s curriculum.

Oh, don’t look at me like that. They don’t do it in the public school classrooms either.

My point is that ever year…which would be what, seven years now? Yeah. Wow.

So anyhow, every year for seven years I’ve been running behind in school. I end the year in a lather, surrounded by papers, barking out orders at weary children.

Last year was the worst. I got married. We moved. I was certifiably insane. None of this was conducive to education. We got waaaaay behind, and it cost me dearly in the serenity department.

So this year I was determined. I was FIRM. I was RESOLVED. School was non-negotiable. We would be rigorous and disciplined. We would DO OUR SCHOOL WORK.

And by golly, we did.

I must modestly point out here that this year I have THREE kids doing full time curriculum. Ok, two of them are full time, and one is darn close. I have kept them all on track, I have kept them on schedule – OR AHEAD. I have been TEACHER OF THE YEAR (which, admittedly, is not that hard an honor to achieve when you are the only teacher).

But now it’s January, and I’m not having fun anymore.

Oh, I know it’s the time of year – didn’t we just pass the most depressing day of the year? And all the snow lately doesn’t help – SIX WEEKS IN A ROW NOW, M’KAY, THANKS.

I’ll get over it. I always do.

The other day Tre called me over to show me “a horrible, horrible thing, Mom! You gotta see!”

“What?” I made my way over to him. He was sitting on the floor, trying not to let a smile break through his look of horror and fear.

“I’m being EATEN ALIVE!”

P1010247

“I can expect a pretty slow, painful death, huh?”

That’s what January homeschooling feels like. Like being eaten alive by tiny plastic dinosaurs.


Verdict

Remember me telling you about Greg Boss? He was killed November of 2005 in a car accident, caused by a maniac. Today that man, Jason Reynolds, was found guilty of first degree murder for causing the death of Greg and Kelvin Norman that day.

I was at the gym when the news of the verdict broke. I watched the TV from the treadmill and cried, wiping at my face with my workout towel, hoping no one noticed. Honestly, since falling in love with Clay, I seem to have become unsettlingly naked at the heart. Five and a half hours the jury deliberated, and now Jason faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. Takes your breath away, a bit. I read, though, that he said to the tow truck driver who arrived about a half hour after the accident that he wasn’t sorry, that “that guy” (Kelvin) got what he deserved.

So I suppose the man was already in prison, in a way. At least now he won’t be able to drive.

I find that I can’t quite shake the sadness over what happened to Greg. It’s not that I expect him to be around, in my life, but it’s just not right. The other day I drove past a restaurant where I’d had dinner with a group of friends, one of them Greg, and it struck me again that he’s gone.

It’s not grief, exactly, but more like cobwebs of sorrow that I can’t seem to brush away.

I got an email once from a woman who knew both Greg and Kelvin. She spoke about them both in the same way; why them? Good, decent guys. Why?

I saw Mary, Greg’s girlfriend tonight on the news, talking about how the day is bittersweet, how justice won’t bring Greg back.

If I am sad about what happened to Greg, what sort of pain must she live with? My heart goes out to her, and to Greg’s mom and dad, his brothers, all those who loved him. And Kelvin’s family too, I’m so sorry for your loss.

I hate it when I can’t see a happy ending, ever, in a story.


Saturday I went to a local high school to watch my 14 year old niece, Kate, compete in a speech meet. I was a speech geek myself in high school (which is not to say that Kate is a geek, at all. I was, though. Oh dear, was I EVER), so I was really looking forward to seeing her piece.

As we waited in a small, chaotic classroom for the round to begin, I studied the surroundings. Classrooms all smell the same, don’t they? There’s some chalk/pencil dust/cleaning chemical ambience they all share. The smell took me back to my own classroom days.

I was always going to be a teacher. From age seven on, my plan was to teach. Actually, at seven I was torn between “teacher” and “forest ranger.” I remember telling Clay once that I’d always thought I would be a teacher, and he replied, “And now you are.”

I was startled, because oh, yes, that’s right. I do teach my own kids. But…I’m not a teacher. I’m a mom.

Who teaches.

A teacher is something different. A teacher stands on the front lines, while children pour through her life.

I WAS going to be a teacher.

When I was twenty, I did my first teaching practicum. I dressed up like a grown up, I drew up very real-looking lesson plans, and for six weeks I played teacher. It was thrilling. It was exhausting. It was hard to come up with that many respectable looking outfits.

One day a little girl in my class came up to my desk on her way out the door for recess. She smiled – an awkward smile that I realized later was a child’s confused response to stress.

“Teacher, can I show you something?”

“Of course,” I smiled back.

Silently, she lifted the sleeve of her shirt to show me a row of bruises down her arm. Like the dots on a domino, I thought stupidly. She turned, quickly, as though to act before her nerve gave way, and pulled up her shirt to show me the bruises on her back. One smudged the hollow under her shoulder blade; one traced a line down the side of her spine.

And one was the outline of a large hand.

I stood, mute, for a moment, while she turned back and stared at me with that brittle smile.

“What happened, Maria?”

“My dad said not to tell. I fell.” Her voice was flat.

I took her to the social worker, of course, and that was the last day of my practicum, so I never knew what happened to Maria.

I remember calling my dad, who was teacher at the time, and telling him the story of Maria.

“It’s going to happen,” he said. “Every year some child is going to come along and break your heart.” I listened to him and cried silent tears that I thought would never stop.

I think that’s when I lost my nerve to teach. I blundered on toward that goal, because I couldn’t imagine what else I could do that was worthwhile. What else mattered?

Then one day, newly married and endlessly stupid, I found myself pregnant. I was terrified for every minute of Tre’s gestation, but that didn’t stop him. And when they handed me that slippery baby boy, it was as though a great blast of God Light broke through the clouds and illuminated my future.

I didn’t have to teach. I didn’t have to ache for anyone else’s child ever again. THIS would be my life, this little person RIGHT HERE.

I would make his life secure and good, and both of us would be safe.

Back in the high school room this weekend, Kate’s name was called, and she stood up to do her piece. She straightened her skirt. We went shopping last week and I found that skirt for her, so pretty with the ribbon flowers appliquéd on it. For a moment, as she picked her way through the desks, toward the front, she looked to me like a little girl, dressed up in a young lady’s clothes. But then she turned and took a deep breath and prepared herself to begin, and I saw she was wearing her own clothes, after all.

She did so well, nearly flawless in her delivery. I could see, because I know her hands and how they move, that nervousness was quickening her movements, just a little. I was so proud of her resolve, standing there and doing her best.

When she was done, she made her way back to where I was sitting. I sat there, grinning and clapping, and one of the other kids in the round waved to catch my eye.

Are you her mom? She mouthed.

I opened my mouth to answer, then stopped.

No, I shook my head.

Kate sat down, and I squeezed her arm and whispered, good job. She smiled back, shining in the afterglow of her moment. I looked at her, and my heart squeezed, hard.

In the years since Tre’s birth I have learned two very difficult facts.

I cannot make my children’s lives always secure and good.

And there is no keeping my heart safe from other people’s children.


You're not gonna believe this...

...but Tre and I discovered today that snow storms are not deterred by Jedi mind control techniques.

Either that, or the force is not strong with us - but THAT'S hard to believe.

(If you click through there, you'll see the snow totals for the area. Ours would be 7.5 inches. Five weeks of snow in a row. Five. Weeks. Even the kids are sick of it.)


Superboy

The boys recently checked out a Superman DVD from the library. They’ve been watching the ½ hour epic adventures at every possible juncture, and this has rekindled Raphael’s long held obsession with Superman. He has once again taken to “flying” around the house, fists held out ahead of him, mouth spewing noises and spit. Tonight, as he leaped into my lap in a single bound, I looked at him in his Superman jammies, and it struck me how very much UNLIKE The Man of Steel my Raphael is. For example:

Superman: Calmly faces the most deadly opponent and tries to talk things out before force becomes necessary. A force for orderliness and the common good.

Raphael: Has been known to punch his brother in the stomach for looking at his pumpkin bread too long.

Superman: Built like a brick Kryptonite, yet completely modest about his amazing physique – to the point that one wonders if he owns a mirror.

Raphael: Built like the Pillsbury Dough Boy, except with unruly hair, yet thinks he’s the reason God MADE mirrors.

Superman: Emotionally level, thoughtful, and wise.

Raphael: Cries, complete with screaming and great splashing tears if his toy penguin is insulted.

Superman: Always has a good idea.

Raphael: Always has an idea. Some of those ideas elicited the following responses – JUST TONIGHT – “Raphael, stop licking the drawer pulls.” “I’m sorry, but the response to a cry of ‘Mayday’ is very rarely bacon.”

Superman: Bravely faced being orphaned at as a baby.

Raphael: Thinks he should still be allowed to play with my boobs, even though he hasn’t nursed for three years.

Superman: Changes clothes in a flash, with no stray socks ever left behind.

Raphael: Changes clothes in a glacial age, with every item of clothing he ever owned on the floor by the time his shoes are on.

Superman: Likes to retreat to his fortress of solitude.

Raphael: Likes to stand RIGHT BEHIND me as I try to make dinner, talk talk talk talk talking about all the things he saw and heard and thought that day. Sings original songs and occasionally shrieks for no apparent reason.

Superman: Everyone’s hero.

Raphael: My baby (but don’t let him hear me say that).


Impressions from a frozen land

So now it’s cold here, the kind of cold that makes “bitter” look like a tropical breeze. But I hear the rest of the country is feeling the same arctic front, and I have to tell you, I feel a bit better about that. It was getting hard to take, with the snow piling up outside, reading on all y’all’s blogs about how bizarre this 70 degree weather is in January. I’m sorry, I didn’t REALLY wish the ice upon you, Mir. Sadly, I am small hearted enough to exhale a small sigh of satisfaction that we are not alone in the cold.

It’s odd, though, this deep freeze. The weekly forecast in the newspaper this morning included this proclamation for Thursday: “ABOVE FREEZING!” We’re all very excited. It doesn’t usually stay below freezing this long. Snow doesn’t stick around like this – and we’ve still got frozen mounds of the stuff from the FIRST storm.

I tend to remember places I’ve lived by the way they felt on my skin. Whenever I walk out of an air-conditioned building after a rain storm, and the air splashes around me, wet and hot and green-scented, I breathe it in and think, Houston.

But if the summer is hot and still and arid, heat that presses you back against the car seat, forces you to slow your breathing and relax, I think, Las Cruces.

Springs that howl with wind, dust and random papers flying past the window, I feel my shoulders tense and my arms draw into my body, and I think, Jemez Valley.

But this cold doesn’t feel like the Denver I know. Icy mounds of dirty snow – we don’t do that. The way snow usually works here is this: it is either snowing or the snow is in the process of melting. The slick layer of compressed ice on the street in front of my house? The one that has been growing for the last month? That’s not MY Denver. This feels like some foreign country, and it puzzles me.

Here’s what this strange land feels like:

As I walk to the mailbox, wind whips tiny ice crystals off the roof. They spray across the only skin I’ve left bare, my face, and the sensation is just between stinging and tingling.

A smoky dust of ice particles swirls above the surface of the highway, making elegant curls float just above the blacktop in the wake of the cars.

Windshield washer fluid, sprayed to clear the omni-present mist left by the cars ahead of me slogging through the same slush, swipes the glass clean. In the wet edges left by the path of the windshield wipers, the fluid blossoms into ice fronds against the glass.

In a parking lot I notice a second too late that I’m about to step in what looks like three inches of dirty slush. I expect to sink into it, to feel it seep into my boot. Instead, my foot hits rock hard ice, and my ankle twists on the rugged surface.

All night long the kitchen faucet is left to trickle, the constant flow frustrating the formation of ice in the pipes. The sound nudges at my dreams, and I’m never quite able to convince myself that it’s the responsible thing to do. When Tre asks, “But…isn’t that wasting water?” with a shocked look on his face, I frown back. “Not as much as a broken pipe would,” I reply sternly. But it’s still hard to believe.

Clay left a can of energy drink in his truck, and it froze and exploded. It was not nearly the mess you would think, because the liquid inside froze so completely that it erupted as powder, and he merely brushed it away.

A gallon of milk, retrieved from the fridge in the garage, pours out as slush. Raphael is charmed by the “Tiny, little ice cubes all through the milk.”

The boys, unable to ride their bikes or scooters, unable to run outside all that much, are irritable and prone to outbreaks of wrestling. I am irritable and prone to outbreaks of chocolate and self-pity.

It’s not so bad, really. It’s warm inside, and we’re not trapped in the house like we were during the worst of the snow. But I look at the forecast and am delighted to see the slight warming trend we’re expecting. ABOVE FREEZING, indeed.

It will be nice to be home again.


Anyone out there remember how picky an eater Raphael is? Now, “picky” may be unfair. He’ll eat little bugs, just not grapes. Or any sort of fruit at all, ever, no, seriously, stop it.

Once upon a time he would throw up at dinner at least once every week or two. He threw up because he had too much food in his mouth, or because a strawberry touched his plate, or because he remembered that time when that one strawberry touched his plate…whatever. He threw up a lot.

But eventually he got over the throwing up thing. One day, about a year and a half ago, he announced that he’d figured out how to stop himself from throwing up.

“I just close my mouth,” he pinched his lips together, demonstrating, “and it BLINDS the throw-up in my throat!”

I was so proud.

It made mealtimes much nicer, although there is often a moment when we all hold our breaths and wait in painful hope for him to swallow. Years of mopping up wee puddles of puke at dinner have scarred me forever.

Tonight we had, as a side dish, one of those tiny, ridiculously expensive watermelons. It may be more cost-effective to just eat gold, but there would be less health-promoting lycopene. So.

This summer we ate A LOT of watermelon, back when it was widely and cheaply available. Raphael condescended to try a teensy weensy little grain of melon-flesh off the very tippy tip of a wedge of watermelon every so often, and declared it yummy!

“I LIKE watermelon!” he would crow.

“That’s GREAT!” I would answer, “Do you want MORE?”

“Oh NO!”

Fine.

However, remembering my stunning success with the watermelon of the summer, I insisted Raphael try JUST ONE TASTE of tonight’s watermelon. He glowered at it, then bit off a miniscule corner. He gagged and clapped a hand over his mouth. Everyone but Max and I had already left the table, and we watched him in frozen horror. He chewed and chewed like he was masticating half a redwood tree, his eyes closed tight, his little chest heaving occasionally with suppressed gags. After a breathless eon for us all, he swallowed hard, opened his eyes, dropped his hand, and said,

“Done! That was kind of good!”

He’s just come so very far.


Music man

It started back before Christmas. I tuned the radio to the “all Christmas music, all the time” station, because who doesn’t love Christmas music? Nobody, that’s who. All except that creepy song about seeing Mama kissing Santa Claus and also the mean one about Grandma getting run over by a reindeer. Really, as though we don’t all have enough familial dysfunction in our holiday as it is, without the songs adding to our load.

Where was I?

Ah yes, Christmas music. Much to my surprise, Tre LOVED the Christmas music. He turned on the radio whenever I forgot, he went around, tapping things in time to the music, and he commented several times that he wished they would play this stuff ALL YEAR LONG.

Ooooookaaaay.

I mean, I love Christmas music as much as the next guy…actually, apparently no, because I really don’t mind NOT hearing it the rest of the year.

Anyhow, when Christmas was over (at least, CHRISTMAS DAY, but let’s not get into THAT again), the station went back to playing its usual light rock. Tre wondered if he’d like that music as much, so he listened to it for a bit. I waited, trembling, to see if he was going to end up LOVING it and turning into That Weird Kid who listens to Barry Manilow. However, he sat through Whitney Houston believing the children are the future, and then Stevie Wonder lamenting over part-time lovers, and he rejected THAT music with a shudder. No thanks. Also, ick.

“I wish I COULD find some music I liked to listen to, though,” he mused. I nodded and mmm-hmmm-ed absentmindedly, because I cannot be of help there. I don’t listen to music. Really, hardly ever. Oh well!

Except it didn’t end there. This morning he said,

“You know, when I was over at Nate’s house, we were talking about music, and he told me to check out 89.7. Can I try it now? It’s Christian rock.”

I nodded in mute assent, and he loped off to find the station. Moments later the room was filled with…well, Christian rock.

Tre was thrilled. He listened all day, except when I made him turn it off to do his Latin work and a spelling test. He already has songs that he likes. He’s delighted.

I, on the other hand...am not exactly delighted.

First of all…well, sometimes I look around our little house, and I think, “What would make this environment even NICER?” And then I think, “Maybe if an even dozen of these shoes were removed from the living room,” or “Perhaps if that child over there would stop flinging his brother at the wall,” or “what IS THAT SMELL?” or something like that. What I never, ever, EVER think is, “If only we could add some ambient NOISE – now, THAT would be nice.”

The other issue is…I hesitate to admit this…but I really don’t like Christian rock all that much. Yes, I AM Christian, but that’s the problem, see? A lot of contemporary Christian music leaves me cold. It seems to me to have been written by a process that includes exchanges such as,

“Dude, what rhymes with light?”

“Uh…either might or sight always work for me.”

“Cool.”

Not exactly expressing the heart of the belief, if you get what I’m saying. And my problem is, as usual, that I over think things. There’s this one song we sing at church, and the bridge goes something like, “I’ll never know how much it cost, to see my sin upon that cross,” and it makes me crazy. I lean over and hiss at Clay, “It was not ACTUALLY my sin on the cross, but HELLO, GOD HIMSELF, and to trivialize the TERRIBLE BEAUTY of that event, to make it ALL ABOUT ME, MY SIN, is JUST SO ACHINGLY SELF-CENTERED and –“

Clay likes to pretend he can’t hear me. He is wise.

But Tre is loving this music. He is bobbing his head along with it, and craning to catch lyrics…he really is just so happy about it.

Tonight Kate was over for dinner, and she loaned Tre a CD. She’s very pleased with this new development in him. She and I got to talking about Christian music, and I confessed my unenthusiastic attitude about it. She listened then told me what it means to her. With absolute sweet sincerity, she talked about the comfort and reassurance she gets from this song or that one.

I was a little ashamed of myself.

Again, I reminded myself that I don’t have to like what makes my kids happy. I don’t have to approve everything that gives them joy. Tre is growing his own self up, I’m not doing it for him. And at this time, in this stage of life, this music is a joy to him. So I’ll watch him go and enjoy his happiness.

And occasionally rant at Clay, if I have to.


Randomness from my day

Moments That Made Me Laugh

I pulled into the garage and Max came tearing out the door to greet me. As soon as I turned the van off, he yanked open the door and leaped onto my lap.

“Hi there Mem! I’m so glad you’re back!”

I hugged and replied,

“Hey, son. Good to see you.” He pulled back and looked at me seriously and intoned,

“Greetings, Earthling.”

Clay was on his way out the door, to pick out some new work boots.

“Hey, anyone want to come with me, to look at boots?” He looked expectantly around the room at three little boys. They, however, were intent upon their GameBoys and computer games, and did not answer.

“HEY,” he repeated, “anyone want to come with me to look at boots?”

Again, silence, save for the chirp and squeak of video games. Finally, without looking up from his game, Tre said into the void,

“Cricket. Cricket.”

Things I Laughed At, Even Though I Know Better

“So, we were riding to Nate’s house?” Tre was telling me about his day – detail by detail. I suspect the telling of the day may have taken longer than the actual day. “And Nate burped! And his mom said, ‘Nate, don’t burp,’ and Nate said,” he paused to be sure I was listening to Nate’s reply, “Nate said, ‘But MOM! It builds character!’”

Tre was sprawled on the floor, putting together a Lego…thing, and Max was walking around him in careful circles, observing. As he walked, he hummed to himself, muttering the occasional word. He was clearly composing something. Sure enough, after a few moments, he burst out into enthusiastic song, a sea chantey of sorts, complete with a jig:

“OOOOOOH, the pirate’s life is a life for me!

I get to pee in the open sea!

And no-one’s gonna stop me,

‘Cause my peeny is a-hoppy!

The pirate’s life is a life for me!”