03 July 2012

Connor and the Pink Peony

Recently, at the end of a long drive with Connor and Colton in my car, we pull into Papa Lynn's driveway. I have to drive very slow, attempting to successfully circumnavigate the impressive potholes, of which I'm not sure I can actually see the bottom.

About half way down the drive, I spot a splash of pale pink peaking at us across the top of the field of crazy-tall, free-range grass that used to be my children's front yard. I stop the car.

"Connor. Look," I say, pointing out the car window, to the far corner of the house. "See that flower WAAAAY over there?"
"Yeah, BB," he says.
"That's a pink peony. See it? It's BB's favorite flower."
"Your favorite flower?" he repeats.
"Yep, pink peonies. My favorite."

We pull the rest of the way up the drive, away from the lone pink bloom, as Connor tells me that he doesn't like pink flowers. They are not his favorite. He likes white flowers.

When the ride comes to a full and complete stop, Connor unbuckles himself and jumps out of the car, heading straight for all the stray and strewn Tonka and Tonka-Wanna-Be tractors he left along the gravel walk the last time he was there.

The well-loved and thoroughly abused toys are dirty, bent, peeling and broken. Also, formerly his father's.

There's a grader, a backhoe, a couple dump trucks, a bulldozer and a crane.

The crane is in the worst shape. Poor thing, more moving parts and all. Wheels that won't turn, broken "glass" in the cab, hopelessly knotted cable to control the rusted 'claw' at the end of the bent and double-jointed metal arm.

Connor begins managing and maneuvering equipment for some fantastical construction scenario that only he has the powers to see.

At the same time, I manage and maneuver my own objective: unbuckling Colton, who is not as adept at "Car Seat Escapery" as his older and more 'time-out' prone older brother.

As his parents pull into the driveway a few minutes later, Connor is busy fiddling and fussing with the intricacies of the crane. It seems odd to me that this most broken of the construction vehicles has drawn his unwavering attention. 'Hello' and 'How did it go?' exchanges with my fellow adults, standing by the cars, Connor at our feet.

Connor's dad bends down to see if he can aid the attempt to get this vehicle mobile once more. Eventually, crane straightened out to Connor's satisfaction, on all fours and ready to roll, Connor stands up and yanks the crane by the claw, trying to pull the whole thing behind him. Like a wagon.

It promptly falls over and slides along the wet grass on its side, behind the three year old.

"Connor, hang on," calls his father. "Let's fix it so you can pull it easier." Connor keeps walking. "Connor, wait."
But off he goes, dragging the crane through the thick jungle grass and around the corner of the house to the front yard.

Dad scrambles to catch the boy who is arguing over his shoulder, at the top of his lungs, when he sees his father getting close.

"Connor, don't drag it through the grass. Tip it back over." But to no avail.

Then Dad is diverted by Colton, the nearly-two year old, who is heading for the mail box, near the road.

It's like the two boys had a conversation in the car before we pulled into the driveway.
"Okay, Colton, you distract everyone by heading for traffic and then I'll get to slide off the radar and get away with whatever I want." To which Colton says, "Uh!" And the deal is sealed.

From a distance, I follow Connor around the corner and all along the front of the house. Maintaining a space between us that keeps him from feeling threatened by the possibility of unnecessary adult intervention. The rusty metals edges and corners of the toy catching clumps of grass and dirt as it clunks along behind the determined boy.

I figure he is either headed for the tire swing that is so old and tired now, it scrapes the dirt beneath it when you dare to make it swing. The Old Tired Swing.

Or he is headed around the next corner as well, to circle the entire house. (A well-worn track he never tires of.)

When we get almost to the corner, by Papa Lynn's bedroom window, instead of staying on the grass, Connor starts walking straight into the muddy and soggy flower bed.
(Calling this area a 'flower bed' is an exercise in blind faith, as it is completely overgrown with shrubs and bushes and this one puny little peony plant with a single pink blossom.)

I try to get him back on the grass but he dodges my reach and tromps right into the mushy earth.

His dad heads our way, telling the three year old to get out of the flower bed.

Stopped now, with all his strength Connor works and works to get the rusty hinge of the claw to loosen. Working it opened and closed.

As we stand near the pink flower that I pointed out to him earlier, Connor clamps the jaw of the crane's claw onto the stem of the pink peony. Just below the full and boisterous head, he tugs with everything he has.
"No, Connor," his dad says. "Don't pick the flower. That's Papa Lynn's flower."

"Actually, it's not Papa Lynn's," I say. "I planted that peony when I lived here. It's mine." Then looking down at the crane operator, I nod. "It's okay, Connor. You can have the flower. Go ahead."

He yanks on the plant with the jaws of the bent and rusted steel (or whatever Tonka Knock-offs are made of) and the head of the bloom pops off. Connor pulls it from the clamp's teeth and hands it to me. "Here BB!"

My favorite flower. My single most favorite flower of all time.


Darcy Ann said...

oh my gosh! I love this story. It's one of my most favorite stories of all time! What a good Gramma to let the moment be had.

Anonymous said...

As well it should be your single most favorite flower of all time. It was sought after through threats, frustration and his absolute ability to ignore the tall people, to get his BB a pink flower, even though he prefers white. Just shows pure unadulterated love to me. Keep it that way, don't ever become one of those tall people to him, he needs that from you.

Anonymous said...

Brightened my whole day. Absolutely charming. Brings tears to the eyes and laughter to my heart. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted you to know that it's a gift you have, to take a moment in time, an experience and put it down in words that paints the picture of your experience, in a way that is fun to read.
By the time I finised your story I knew exactly why that paticular peony was your favorite! Nice job.