When Medium Fry was wee, she had this funny manner of gazing off past your head and saying oddball things in a soft, dazed sort of voice. I have loads of hilarious quotes of hers jotted down on sticky notes, and I can still almost hear her spacey little way of saying them. I remember her telling me about Wonder Woman once (cue distant eyes and dreamy voice): "She wonders about tings a lot."
In comparison, Small Fry has been less "quotable" and more "damage
control" - there have been fewer sticky notes with him, but more
empty wine bottles. With Medium Fry it was all dazy weirdness but with
Small Fry everything has been lightning fast, and just as unpredictable. He once body surfed a pallet of Wonder bread at Superstore.
happened instantaneously. He couldn't possibly have formed conscious intent in
the time between the photons reaching his retinas and when
he was suddenly sailing through the air, limbs arched back like a
skydiver, into the welcoming arms of a dozen pillowy loaves - it was
pure instinct. As was my reaction: horrified gasp;
back-of-the-shirt-kid-handle hold; flee. I used to work in a bakery so
I'm pretty sure the Wonder bread eventually reconstituted itself into loaf
shapes - we tested it; that stuff is indestructible - but I swear the
incriminatory imprint of a toddler in a flat of bread haunts my dreams
to this day.
I used to think the term "wonder years" meant the years were wonderful,
but maybe Medium Fry had it right all along: since having kids I wonder about tings a lot. For instance, "I wonder if we're going to
survive this?" Which eventually transitions to, "I wonder how I'm
screwing up my children?" And after a few years of that, you get into,
"I wonder what the hell is wrong with my children?" (Honestly, did I
drop you or something? I mean, everyone drops their kids a little, but like, did I really do some damage at some point and just not notice 'til now?)
(Furthermore: "I wonder if anyone saw that?" "I wonder if anyone realizes the embarrassing kid is mine?" "I wonder what these people must think our home life is like?")
* * *
I passed a Wonder bread delivery truck the other day on the highway. I was driving along grinning like a fool for who knows how long before I even realized why: the Superstore incident is pretty funny - in retrospect. As were the barfing-in-the-pool incident, and the grating the carrots incident, and innumerable other incidents over the years that gave me a serious case of the wonderings in the moment.
I'm thinking that with a little more time and distance, all of these incidents (and phases, and years) will mature from wonder to Wonder. Maybe that's when The Wonder Years really start.