“Cowboys and Indians” by Susan Rose

This story appears in the anthology “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Being a Parent.” 

It warms my heart when I think about children and how literal their worlds can be.guerilla

I remember watching the evening news when I was a child. A plane had been hijacked and the reporter said there were guerillas aboard. Wow, I thought, now that’s a plane I want to be on. I imagined hairy monkeys with spindly arms meandering up and down the aisles while pounding their chests and passing out peanuts to the travelers.

One evening as I drove my young son Max home from Grandma’s house, he reminded me of that moment and just how literally children see the world. I had been singing an old Native American song that I learned in music class as a child. “Max, you know, it’s important that you learn this song because you’re part Indian, your daddy is part Indian, your grandpa is part Indian and so on.”

I glanced in the rearview mirror as I watched the wonder on my small son’s face. I didn’t think anything of it as I continued driving. Soon, my son’s sweet little voice pierced the silence.

“Mommy, if people are part Indian then how do they know when they are part cowboy?”

I couldn’t help but laugh, but it was a good question. How do you know when you’re part cowboy?

poinsetta croppedA few weeks later, as Christmas approached, a lovely poinsettia adorned the antique table in my mom’s office. Its crimson petals were beautiful and added just the right festive touch. Mom and I were in the kitchen preparing lunch and Max had been quiet for some time. “He’s being so good today,” Mom said. I agreed. Much to our disappointment, when we entered the office, the red petals littered the tiled floor. He had torn them from the plant and tossed them to the ground like confetti.

“Max,” I scolded, “why did you tear all of the petals off Grandma’s pretty plant?”

He hung his head. He knew he was in trouble.

“Clean up the mess,” I instructed, and then walked out of the office.

When I returned, I was pleased to see that there were no more petals on the ground. I reached toward the poinsettia to put it in the trash and as I did, I realized that he had taped every single petal back onto the plant!

“Mommy, I fixed it!” he beamed. I couldn’t help but giggle at his unique gardening skills and wished that my green thumb were half as good as his.

Soon, we added another child, Chelsea, to our family. When Chelsea was five, she was visibly frustrated that we didn’t understand what she was saying. As we headed to the beach, she tried to tell us what she wanted to do while we were on our vacation.

“Let’s go see the big cats,” she kept saying.

“Cats? What are you talking about? We’re not near the zoo.”

“No!” she screamed, “You know, the cats . . . those cat-things that are really loud and they swim.”

“Chelsea, I just don’t understand,” I kept repeating. She was nearly in tears. “Cats don’t like the water,” I explained. As we neared the beach, she quickly jolted up in her seat.

Max and Chelsea

Max and Chelsea

“Over there, Mommy. The cats are over there,” she exclaimed as she pointed toward the pier.

My husband and I looked at each other and smiles stretched across both of our faces. We turned down the road toward the marina where we saw the glistening brown fur of the cats.

“Yes, the big cats!” she shrieked. And although they didn’t have fuzzy manes like their namesake, she had been explaining it the only way she knew how.

“Sweetheart,” I explained, “those aren’t cats—they’re sea lions.”

Max, oblivious to all the drama about the big cats, sat in the backseat playing with his plastic Indian figures, probably wondering if any of them were part cowboy.

Parenting 250_rgbSusan Rose is currently writing a young adult novel, Beneath the Crust—Yellowstone Legends Resurface. She and her husband, Jeff are the parents of two teenagers, Max and Chelsea. Susan enjoys spending her spare time creating “upcycled” art from magazines, a rainy day accident which turned into a passion! Her artwork is displayed in homes and galleries across the United States.

Again, this story appears in “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Being a Parent.” The book is filled with 68 entertaining stories about parenting and raising kids. Purchase this book today from your favorite retailer, Amazon (http://amzn.to/1rttaBF) or Barnes & Noble (http://bit.ly/11EGnCl).

To submit your stories for consideration in future NYMB titles, go to http://www.PublishingSyndicate.com and click on the “Not Your Mother’s Book” tab.