Secret Handshake

Ah mischief.IMG_0261

I shuffle into the kitchen this morning looking for the cup of coffee I have decided not to have and instead I have a headache.

My kid surprises me from behind by jumping on my neck with the best idea ever in the whole universe.

“Mom, let’s invent our own secret handshake!”

Why can’t I be a morning Mom? If I was Michelle Leiffertz I would have made at least three types of chutney by now, sewn next year’s Halloween costumes for the neighbours and read, staged, and discussed Euripides’ Electra with my brilliant twin girls.

Unfortunately Nora is stuck with Night Owl Mom. I can only see that the cat has spilled the litter, January mortgage payment is approaching, and I really need to buy a vacuum, there are brown rice cinnamon buns to invent (yech) and I have a new play idea I should get on the page and that BBC thing to look at.

“Come on, Mom, you said your New Years Resolution was to play with me more!”

Busted. Damn. BUSTED. More mischief is my New Years Resolution. True. Okay. Forget the broom, forget re-listing on Craig’s list, let’s do this Secret Handshake and please God, please let it not take more than an hour. Nora literally wriggles with excitement when I say “Sure!” This makes me wonder at how many time I’ve told her, “Sorry, Mommy’s busy.”

Apparently the Secret Handshake involves complicated hand clapping, choreography, original composition, memorization and perfection of execution. I didn’t realize this audition would require a dance call.

“Mommy, just watch me, clap clap clap, up down up down, spin, now you do it.”

I want. to claw. my eyes out.

But I follow her choreography and she allows me to write down the steps. She comes up with the idea for the verses and I work on the scansion. “Can you think of a different word than “like”? We say it three times.” And before I know it, I have to admit, we have a lot of fun and I teach her a little bit about writing and an hour flies by quickly when you’re doing secret handshakes. Before you read the lyrics I should explain: her father, both grandfathers and her uncle are all named Michael. The song ends up being:

Mommy and Nora
we like to ride bikes.
We have a great family
where half the men are Mikes.
We bake and cook Italian
we have a crazy cat.
We read and write good story books
we do a lot of crafts.
I love my Mommy and my Mommy loves me.
Together we’re the best that we can be.

Once we do it all the way through memorized without messing up the movements, Nora rewards me.

“Mom, since you did something I want to do, I will now do something you want to do. We can play Scrabble.”

This isn’t exactly what I want to do today but…for her to offer to do all that spelling and math…I have to say yes. Michael phones mid game,

“So, what’ve you guys been up to?”

“We played. All day.” I say.

He is surprised. “Well done!” He comes over later to do the technological figuring of all Nora’s electronic Christmas presents…we show him our secret handshake and then Nora and Michael, to my surprise, do their secret handshake. It’s very efficient and almost Fonzie cool. I serve us a roast beef dinner, that’s two meals he’s been over for this week, unusual. Nice. He smiles mischievously across the table and winks, “A man could used to all this home cookin'” Some kind of dark oddly wonderful ex husband humour there.

So, did I get anything “done” today? No. Not really. But in twenty years Nora might just remember the secret handshake and she’ll never ever remember whether the floor was clean. IMG_0260

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  1. Leah

    i will never tire of reading these lovely stories filled with insight, humour and so much love. thanks again!

  2. Johnna

    “Nora literally wriggles with excitement when I say “Sure!” This makes me wonder at how many time I’ve told her, “Sorry, Mommy’s busy.””… ohhhhh I am sooooo busted. For my kid’s birthday we were going to watch a video together – the three of us – after birthday cake. He asked if we could skip the cake and go straight to the video. Would it kill me to watch The Cat in the Hat with my boy once in a while?

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