I am sorry I have not been around your places lately. Our internet access went a day early, and J published yesterday’s post from work. That, plus the move, means you may not get comments from me for a week or so. I will still be posting, however, since I have a few already in the hopper.
In her long-ago and perhaps reckless youth, J’s grandmother was known as “Bootsie.” She has long since shed this nickname, living now by a much more proper and staid first name deep in the heart of Ft. Lauderdale. She has never met our children, which is as much our fault as hers, but mostly the result of one circumstance or another. Neither of our children looks like her, neither has her personality, and the connection is weak.
Weak, but definitely there.
Here in London, a staple of children’s apparel is the ubiquitous rain boot. Tall and plastic, they provide complete protection once trouser cuffs are tucked into their protective sheath. These boots are named after a Duke of Wellington, the same Duke of Wellington, I believe, who lent his name to a certain beef concoction, making him perhaps the most well known of all the dukes of that particular name. These boots, for short, are known as “wellies.”
When we moved here, Zachary was 20 months old, and we had a dickens of a time convincing him to wear wellies. He found them difficult to navigate in, and it was six months before he was willing to wear them on a regular basis. Benjamin, on the other hand, is totally obsessed.
He is our British child, born here and knowing no other home. There is no breakfast so fine as eggs and baked beans, in his humble opinion. And there is no footwear that can hold a candle to welly boots. “Bootsie,” he calls them, because he has a strange linguistic habit that causes him to diminutize everything. We do not know where he picked up this tendency, as we are very strict about avoiding words such as “horsie” and “doggie.” Nonetheless, Benjamin likes to add an enthusiastic “—eee” to all his favorite words.
“Bootsie!” he cries upon getting out of bed in the morning, starting to whimper if he cannot find them. Only once he is properly shod can we proceed to things like breakfast, which he eats wearing pajamas and wellie boots. Immediately after dressing, he puts them on again. Before his bath in the evening, when he is prancing about in just his diaper, he often dons them again until the last possible minute.
Like most people we know, we have a no-shoes-in-the-house policy. Obedient Zachary sometimes even takes his shoes off at school if they are a little muddy after outside play. Benjamin? We’ve given up. If he really needs to wear his rain boots in the house, we acquiesce. Unfortunately, the parents of his friends are not so lenient, and we need to wrestle the boots off over his vociferous protests before he can have a go at the toys.
Clearly, he cares every bit as much about fashion as his brother ever did, even if he does have rather a different notion of what is stylish.
He tries to convince me the wellies are required. “Raining,” he argues, pointing out a window that, uncharacteristically for London, is flooded with sunshine. I am not sure if he is hoping for rain, liking the wellies because he can stamp in puddles, or if he is simply arguing the necessity of he preferred footwear. I suspect the latter.
And so, today we get on a plane, leaving behind the land of perpetual drizzle and occasional downpour. We will spend eleven hours together on that plane, alighting finally in Los Angeles, a city built on a veritable desert, where for six months out of the year there is no rain at all. Three of us will be wearing comfortable shoes.
Little Bootsie Rosenbaum, however, will be ready for rain. Somewhere in Florida, his great-grandmother is smiling.