Tuesday, January 24, 2012

(Embracing) The Fart Button

One of my mom's favorite things in life was a good bargain. Nabbing 30 cans of peas for ten cents or sweet talking a garage sale holder out of their entire stock of plaid shirts for a dollar was an absolute thrill.

No matter that there isn't a soul in our family that eats canned peas, and the plaid shirts were three sizes too large for anyone in the house. A bargain is a bargain after all.

We cleaned mom's pantry while we were all camping in her house during the last few weeks of her life. We found at least 10 containers of Mentadent toothpaste-- no doubt purchased during the Clinton administration. If a bomb dropped, we'd all have peas and clean teeth. Thank heavens.

Toys were a particularly exciting score for my mom; she had all kinds of odds and ends for the kids to play with. On each visit to Nana's, my son would pull back the easy chair. He'd squeal in delight at the island of misfit toys hidden in the corner behind it: a mish-mosh of Lincoln Logs, retro (potentially lead painted) toys, and random monopoly money. Stuff most moms dread and would throw away when nobody was looking. In the eyes of my son, though, it was a treasure trove.

One day after spending some time with Nana, Aidan came home with a particularly special prize. A fart button. Yes. A key-chain with five (count 'em, five) buttons- each of which sounded off a unique fart. Aidan was just about two at the time. He was elated.

Who the hell gives a two year old a fart button?

For the record, I'm not a prude. I actually think farts are pretty damned hilarious. But, I'm still not quite sure whether or not it's appropriate to pass on my sixth grade sense of humor to my children.

When I was about to share these thoughts with my mom, I didn't have the heart. I saw the excitement in her eyes about getting this toy. She was so proud of this find and wanted nothing more than to see my son happy. And happy he was.

So began a life of co-existing with "Farty". Aidan would attach Farty's key chain to one of his Thomas the Tank Engine trains and tow it along like any old train coach. Sometimes Farty was a phone; sometimes a stage for Aidan's GI Joe men. Pretty status quo, run of the mill toddler imagination stuff.

Still, Farty was an unwelcome house guest and I was determined to kick him to the curb.

A few months later, while in the process of moving into a new home, we began sorting out our old things. This would be my chance! Plop! Farty went into a trash bag. Whew! Life with Farty was over! As I put the bag of toys into my husband's trunk, I let out a sigh of relief. I had significantly reduced my son's chances of being "that kid" who made arm pit fart noises in class.

Then life became a whirlwind. I gave birth to our second child, our house purchase fell through, my mom was gravely ill. A day out of the hospital, I was looking at new houses and making contingency plans on living arrangements for the four of us. I was at my mother's nearly every day with my kids in tow just to see her, to be with her. It was the scariest, most intensely emotional time I have ever experienced. Life priorities became ultra simplified; family, love, food, shelter.

It's not until times like this that you realize how much useless junk we worry about on a daily basis. Obsessing over Farty fell completely off my radar.

Then it happened.

My mom had passed and we were settled into our current home. We purchased a new car and began to clear out my husband's old Echo to prepare it for the dealership. There in the trunk, tucked behind the usual pile of stuff was a black garbage bag. When we opened it, we were greeted with a cacophony of farts. I picked out the colorful key-chain, happy to be reunited with a keepsake that held memories of mom.

Farty has other uses these days. Aidan used Farty as a loud speaker in his pretend grocery store. Each button he pressed sent me into hysterics.

I'm pretty certain that Farty's return is no coincidence. He belonged with us and we with him. My mom knew this all along. In her parting words of wisdom, I can imagine her saying:

"Lighten up, Col! Farts are just plain funny".