Revisiting Old Friends

A couple of years ago, I convinced my kids that very tiny people lived in trees without leaves… or, as Lacy had taken to calling them, “naked trees.”
I fabricated a story about these tiny -CLOTHED -people who live in the bare trees. Since then, we’ll call out to them during the winter season. We’ll drive by naked trees and call out, “Hi, naked tree people!”
March -the month of blossoms -marks the END of naked tree people season.

This year, my kids begged for another Naked Tree People Picnic, so yesterday we packed the big basket with a blanket and some snacks. Frosting and graham crackers are a must in Farewell to Tree People Ceremonies. 0319151325b
We walked down my Dad’s farm toward the place we’ve claimed as our clubhouse (for our Scientific Artist Club), spread out the blanket and began snacking.

We examined the tree and found that it was beginning to get pretty green leaves, and we thanked our lucky stars we’d thought to come bid the Naked-Tree People farewell JUST IN TIME.

(Lacy was seriously concerned.)
The kids looked, just like they do every year, so hard to catch a fleeting glimpse of a Naked-Tree Person, but no matter how hard they tried, they just couldn’t.
It reminded me of them two years ago, searching, searching…

“I just want to see ONE, Mom,” Lacy said.
“Then they will lose their magic,” I say, defaulting to the answer I give about Santa, the Easter Bunny and The Tooth Fairy.
“WHAT Magic?” Trenton asked.
I hadn’t given the tree people any magic when I made them up… luckily kids don’t mind vague answers and get distracted easily.

“Time for the ceremony!” I told them.
We circled the trees and chanted gibberish, then gently broke a stick from the Naked Tree and blessed the tree people with protection.
Because they hibernate in the bark during the spring and summer seasons.

We ended our ceremony by leaving some of our food with them.


Alice didn’t understand what the big deal was, so she kept busy charging up and down the farm road, looking for Grandpa’s cow -the one she’s named, “Honey,” because that’s what she calls cows when they run away from her.
“Honey! Honey! Come BACK!”

I enjoyed the afternoon warmth and snapped pictures of Trent’s freckles:

I also listened to Lacy talk about her plans for the Tree People… for about 5 minutes until Alice threw dirt in our eyes.
“We need to go home and bring back some fabric.”
“No, Lace. They already HAVE everything they need,” I said, smiling as Trent propped his Captain America shield up so the people could use it as a slide, “They SCAVENGE for what they need and gather it.”
“Wellllll they can GATHER the fabric I leave for them!”
“Lacy, no. We’re not doing that.”
“We did it LAST TIME.”
“Yeah, I know. Because you argued so much about it.”
“Well, I’ll argue again!” She said.

I finally convinced her to let the idea go. We were pretty far from the house and I wasn’t up for another trip.

As we walked home, Alice snuggled into my shoulder (nap time) and Lacy carried the cumbersome basket back home. I noticed her stopping along the way.
“What are you doing?” I asked, thinking she was picking weed-flowers.
“For them to gather,” she explained and showed me the crumbled up caramel rice cakes.

I followed her home and noticed her quietly crumpling rice cakes in her hands and letting them fall behind her as she walked.
That girl.
She’s going to be the next Clara Barton.

And so goes another year, another Tree People Picnic.
As I walked slowly home, my back aching from inflammation and the toddler against my shoulder, I wondered how much longer I’d have their pure, childlike imaginations for… how much longer they’d beg for tree people picnics and how much longer Trent (who is now TRENT, by the way, because he’s decided it should be so. But I still call him Trenton) will walk a few yards ahead of his mom and sisters to fight the invisible ninjas I’ve convinced him only HE can see.
How many more sincere notes will I get to the Tooth Fairy (“Be careful. It’s a scary world out there. Love, Lacy.”)
How many?

What will I do with older kids?
Am I qualified to parent people who realize how crazy I am?

All I can do it soak up the moments, write them down, and remember to cover my tracks so they’ll keep believing my crap.
If I don’t get rid of those rice cakes before school gets out, THEY’LL KNOW…

Trenton, after cutting down every last invisible ninja, said to me, “What about rock people? and leaf people?…” he began scheming about them, how they lived and fought and which team he was one (the tree people, of course. He’s a loyal purist).
I see hope in that one and his freckles and his insistence on his name shortening. He’ll do great things with his imagination.
He’s going to be the next, well… the next… Actually, I think he’s going to be the FIRST Trent Deets -and I can’t wait to see how it all pans out.

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