Monday, September 21, 2009


I am a liar. (I have decided that, at least for the time-being, I will begin all of my posts with declarative statements. Look for future posts starting with the following: “I am a binge-eater”, “I am not a morning person”, and “I am the Batman.”)

Caleb has been playing with a seashell that hails from North Carolina, where we vacationed when he was but a fetus in my belly. I told him he could hear the ocean when we put the shell to his ear. He wanted to know why. So I told him, of course, that there was a tiny ocean inside the seashell that he could not see, but could hear. The sound was he heard was the lapping of the waves, the wind over the water, the spray of the surf.

Caleb is so stinking rational. At first, he was incredulous. But I was insistent! He asked all sorts of questions:

“I think I hear whistling,” he said.

“Little tiny seagulls,” I said.

“How come no water comes out when I shake the seashell?” he asked.

“It’s so small, you wouldn’t be able to see the water if it did come out.” I said.

“Is there really a little tiny ocean in this shell?” he asked.

“That’s an affirmative,” I said.

“Did God make the little tiny ocean?” he asked.

Oh, man. He had to bring God into my convoluted tale. I was stumped. Did I draw God into my lie? Did I tell the truth? Did I cover up with another lie, like, gosh I think I hear Ella crying?

(I went with the third option. I’m a terrible person.)

This morning, John went and told Caleb that there was no little tiny ocean in the seashell, that the sound was just air circling its cavernous insides. Caleb was crushed. He said he didn’t want the seashell anymore. He gave it to Ben.

“Here Ben,” he said, grouchily. “You can have this for the REST OF YOUR LIFE!”

Then he sat cross-armed on the sofa. I scuttled up next to him and told him I knew how he felt. Because I do! I know what it’s like to believe in something so wonderful, so fantastical, and so beautiful that just believing in it makes me feel a part of something greater than what I am. And I always feel mad at the reality; my fictions are much more fun, more interesting, and make life seems less ordinary. I told Caleb that I knew there wasn’t really a beautiful, blue-skied sea kingdom inside the shiny North Carolina shell, but that I still liked to pretend that there was.

As we waited for the bus, we made up a story about the people who went to the beach inside the shell. Little bitty people who liked to body surf; babies who never dirtied their swim diapers; mommies who had an abundant supply of lemonade and red popcicles; children who never had to reapply sunscreen; daddies who tossed their kids into the water over and over again and never got tired out; sharks who were nice and let people ride on their backs. A very strange, fun place.

I’m hoping this imaginative exercise will help Caleb out when he inevitably realizes there is no Santa Claus, that the fluff left behind by the Easter bunny is just stuffing from the throw pillow Daniel pulled apart, and that the leprechaun that he swears he saw on St. Patrick’s day is a myth perpetuated by people who drink too much and hallucinate angry little green men who horde gold.

The tooth fairy? Oh, the tooth fairy is very real. Very, very real.


Anonymous said...

There's no Santa Claus??? What? Oh No!

Holly, really enjoying your blogs! Keep on writing please!

The Editor said...

Great post!

Josh said...

I'm told there is no tiny ocean in the seashell every time the Pirates lose...

Holly said...

Next year is totally going to be their year NOT to break any horrible and depressing records. I can feel it.