This tale begins, well before the turn of the century, the 21st century, to be precise. C'mon, I'm not THAT old! Riding along, on a sunny spring day, my four year old and I in the front seat of the car, he, commenting on the passing landscape and I, a nervous wreck, about to have a parent-teacher "conference" with his pre-school teacher.
Not a chat.
Not a visit.
No conversation. No dialog.
A naked light bulb over my head in a darkened room,
where I will be questioned.
And so it came to pass.
My son does not know his colors. He is four and cannot tell the difference between pink and purple. The other children in his class know the names of all the colors in their crayon box.
He knows red. And yellow. And blue.
It did not help that while in the parking lot, post-inquisition, another mother announced she had enrolled her color scholar in a Germanic Language studies course. An advanced course, of course.
I spent the afternoon in the library,
reading parenting manuals and weeping.
On the way home, the sky still a radiant blue, the trees budding out in limey green and pastel pinks.
My son and I in the front seat of the car, my mind racing and once again a running commentary on the passing landscape.
"Mom", he whispered,
"Isn't the new grass such a beautiful shade of orange?"
Did he say orange?
I must have had the face of a madwoman,
as he looked at me and cautiously inquired, "It is orange, right Mom?"
And then, it hit me.
I looked down at his sweet face and panned down to his red shirt, green shorts and the brown socks tucked into his yellow sneakers. He'd dressed himself, a sign of independence, I thought proudly. He'd sort out the matchey matchey part some other day.
Today he is making big boy independent choices. Or?
I waited for the other shoe to drop.
I waited for the final piece of the puzzle to surface under a chair in the kitchen.
I was walking on eggshells.
Easter. The Saturday night before Easter morning and we are dying eggs. He and his brother and I. The table covered in newspapers. The cups filled with vinegar water. The fizzy tablets dropped one per cup. Green. Red. Blue. Violet. Yellow. Orange. Two dozen hard boiled eggs and wax pencils. Hard boiled eggs clutched in four and six year old hands equals eggshells.
On the floor.
Method #1: My older son, the perfectionist, dips his egg exactly halfway into the red cup.
Dabs the egg on a paper towel, rotates the egg in the wire dipper, and lowers the egg exactly halfway into the blue cup.
Method #2: My youngest, "the grass is orange, Mom", settles his egg into the wire dipper and proceeds in rapid fire succession, dipping his egg into the red, the blue, the yellow, the green and the violet.
Holding his gray egg to the light, he grins and says...
"Perfect"....just as the other shoe drops.
My son is colorblind.
Just like his grandfather. My father wore blue shirts. Only blue shirts. All of his life. My mother matched his socks. His pants. His ties.
Oh no. Oh dear. Colorblind.
Tested. I had him tested. Just to be sure. Colorblind.
The recommendation? Buy the big 24 pack of crayons and teach him to read all the names before Kindergarten and he'll be fine. Oh, and he can't be an astronaut, or a jet pilot.
I was heartbroken.
And if I am to be honest, for me.
Early Easter morning, I am up and out in the yard, hiding eggs. Red ones, multicolored ones. Chocolate bunnies and jelly belly beans. Not a gray egg in sight. I accidentally left them huddled together behind the jar of mayo in the back of the refrigerator.
The boys race down the stairs, baskets in hand. Still in pajamas. Pajamas tucked into winter boots.
Out to the yard.
The elder, a crafty fellow, fills his basket, a tisket a tasket, in a race for egg excellence.
The younger, strolls at a leisurely pace, grinning with each new find and chewing slowly, chocolate on his cheeks.
The sun, barely risen, colors the sky above their sweet heads.
At that moment, another mother, Mother Nature, nudges me.
In my world, she whispers, colors never clash,
they complement one another.
The younger, now grown, is still colorblind...and a remarkable musician.
His brother, is still a perfectionist,
but a remarkable storyteller and the keeper of family lore and tradition.
I am proud to say that he carries the colorblind gene as well.
I, so they say, am still a neurotic worrier.
Some day, before the next century, I hope to be around,
when they color Easter eggs,
and watch their children as the sun rises on Easter Sunday.
Dressed in our Sunday best,
I make one final stop before leaving the house.