We are sitting in church when the pastor asked all the fathers to stand up to be recognized for Father's Day. I'm gazing around the room, watching the humble, sweet dads standing, mostly wanting to sit back down and not draw attention to themselves. Then there was this one. He was standing with his head held high, actually, was he on his toes? Is he trying to stand taller than the rest? This dad was a proud one, he was. Then I see his face which has the biggest grin.
It's The Bear.
I lean over his brother to get closer to him and whisper in the 'mom' tone. "Bear, sit down."
Bear: "No, mom. I'm a dad."
Me: "You are NOT a dad, SIT DOWN." He's ten. Why am I having to have this conversation?
Bear: "I am so a dad. I'm ELLIE'S dad." His grin got bigger and I know in his mind he was also thinking, Why am I having to have this conversation? And so there he stood with the rest of the fathers and, of course, was among the last to sit down. The fact that someone in the church that morning had given him a whole bag of twizzlers (which he gladly had eaten every piece) was evident. He was in full Bear mode.
Being Father's Day, I'd been thinking of my dad and Bear's antics reminded me of a time my dad had told me he had also misbehaved in church. His pastor would leave a written copy of his sermon on the pulpit before church began. Dad and his friends really wanted to go swimming that day, so they 'misplaced' the sermon. That was the quickest service they'd ever had and out they went to the pool. Hmmmmm. It must run in the family to be little stinkers. At least Bear's stunt was over and it didn't result in church being dismissed.
Bear got up and walked to the back of the church as the preacher started his sermon. I'm thinking bathroom break. Then the mom vibe hit me and I look over and question his brother with my raised eyebrows. (His brother deserves a more proper introduction, but for now, he is my almost 20 year old sweetheart/prankster of a child, who at 6'2", I still call 'Little B').
Little B grimly shakes his head. We have this whole nonverbal conversation with eyebrows and eyes rolling and lifted shoulders. Which could only mean one thing. Troubles a-brewing.
Little B: 'See that block of sunlight on the wall behind the preacher's head?'
Me: 'Yes.' I was starting to sweat.
B: 'He wanted to know if that came from the foyer window. Then he left.'
I could only wait helplessly. To give you a clearer picture of what was going on, there was a rectangle of sunlight shining through the window at least 4-5 feet tall just above the preacher's head on the wall behind him in the pulpit. The congregation sees the outline of a window. Bear sees a great shadow puppet arena.
My little guy is a performer. And perform, he must.
I could only sit in a panic and wait.
Soon I saw the huge shadow of his profile slowly walk by.
Oh dear. Please sit down...
I held my breath.
I knew by the time I got to him the show would be over. I wanted to look away but it was the train wreck you had to watch.
The fourth time there is a little wave of a giant hand.
I smiled just a little. Wait, what am I smiling at, this is soooo wrong. And besides, I had already decided I was emotionally skipping out that day. Father's Day when cancer has stolen your father is just a day that you want to get over with as quickly as possible. I was not going to smile, mister.
Getting braver, the fifth time there was a giant dancing silhouette. Shew. There it was again, a little grin along with my terror. Thank goodness it was a quick dance.
Bear returned and both boys were quietly laughing and smiling from ear to ear. And being the ever so inappropriate mom that day, I silently giggled with them. And then almost snorted. Soon I laughed inside so hard tears were forming and I was trying not to be so obvious as I shook up and down trying to hold it all in. These kids had transformed me into a misbehaving teenager at the worst possible time. I could do nothing to reprimand The Bear other than try to muster up the sternest look I could give him. He triumphantly sat down.
I'm sorry to everyone in the church, I really am.
While I was mourning and all caught up in death, my boys were celebrating life and I decided to join them.
My dad would want it so.