64 crayons

When I was in grade school, the trek to buy school supplies was a momentous occasion. It was a license to get new stuff, served fresh from the school district thanks to a one-page white sheet detailing all of the supplies we’d need for the year.

Often, there were items that seemed superfluous – 18-color watercolors we’d use once, a straight edge we’d use more often to launch paper missiles than we’d use in art class. But there was always one constant – crayons, at least 16.

One year, in an act of kindness I still remember, I was given every grade schooler’s art-supply-list dream: the 64-crayon box of Crayola. The one with silver, bronze and gold. The one that said, “I have 64 colors, and I am a better person than you.”

That night, the night before school started, my mother sat down and, per the school district’s suggestion, began writing my name on all of my school supplies. On my ruler. On my eraser. On my pencils and on my pencil bag. And then, though it wasn’t needed and seemed ridiculous to the point of insanity, on each of those 64 crayons.

Imagine that. Writing “Corey V.” on the sides of 64 crayons, each one seeming smaller and smaller, each one causing more and more hand cramps.

I still think of that today. It’s what I use to remind me of the bond between a mother and a son. And it’s proof that, despite how distant I’ve been in my life – and despite how callous I can seem – my mother has done things for me that I’ll never begin to know.

I see those things firsthand, now. The sacrifices that Kerrie has made in order to make sure Sierra has the best life possible – things that our little girl will never remember: gifts of time and energy and attention, career changes done specifically for her benefit, each worried minute when she’s sick, each patient second when she’s misbehaving.

Sure, fathers are there too. But the bond is different. Mom’s get a head start – a 40-week head start. A head start that strengthens the bond, not into something better than a father’s bond, but into something different. Something a little more patient.

Something that can lead a mother to write the same name, hundreds of times, smaller and smaller, just, in the rare chance that it could happen, to protect her son from losing his precious silver crayon.

That’s my mom. And in a way, that’s all of our moms.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. And Happy Mother’s Day, Kerrie.

This was lovingly handwritten on May 10th, 2009