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Friday, June 30, 2017

(4) TIMMY, YOU SHOULDN'T KNOCK YOUR GUESTS DOWN.

November 19, 1954
     If a flying saucer were to land in Sandy Cove tomorrow, swarming with fierce little outer-space beings, I wouldn’t twitch an eyelash.  They couldn’t possibly be as fantastic, fiendish, and fearsome as the dozen demons three and a half feet high who invaded our home yesterday.
     The occasion was Timmy’s eighth birthday.  At noon I drove down to school to pick up his guests—five girls and seven boys, leaving out Timmy.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t leave out Timmy.  When I opened the classroom door, he asked the teacher if he could make an announcement.
     “Will all the children who are coming to my party please line up behind my mother,” he said, blushing.
     I was blushing, too, partly because of the novel experience of being lined up behind, partly because of the glum expressions shared by the twenty uninvited.
     Diana Remick looked the glummest.
     “Timmy,” I whispered, as he came to the head of the line, “didn’t you invite Diana?”
     “No,” he said, looking surprised.  “I hate her.”
     Shh!  Well, you’ve got to invite her.  You went to her party—“
     “—and she kicked me, remember?”
     “—and besides, her mother is one of my best friends, I said firmly, beckoning Diana.
     “When we get home, call your mother and tell her to bring my present,” Timmy scowled.
     After five minutes of Diana, I was ready to call Dottie and tell her never mind the present, just come and get her daughter.  Timmy is an excellent judge of character.   She wanted to open all his presents.  She called him selfish because he wouldn’t let her play with them the minute the wrappings were off.  When I tried to take pictures of Timmy opening his gifts, she kept jumping in front of the camera.
     The party was scarcely under way when I heard sobs, and there stood Diana, tugging at my skirt.
     “Mrs. Malley,” she wept, “Timmy knocked me down!”
     “Timmy, did you knock Diana down?”
     “She grabbed my football and wouldn’t give it back.”
     “Oh,” I said.  “Well . . . that’s too bad, Diana.  Timmy, you shouldn’t knock your guests down no matter what they do.”
     Diana, great tears still brimming in her eyes, tugged at me again.  “Could I call my mother, Mrs. Malley? I want her to come and get me.”
     So do I, I thought.  But I managed to sidetrack her by bringing on the ice-cream and cake.
     After the children had tired of throwing the refreshments around the playroom, we played Truth or Consequences.  That is, I played Truth or Consequences with one little monster at a time.  Those who were not “it” relieved their boredom by racing through the house, screaming as if it were on fire.  Timmy, I must admit, was the ringleader.   After I sent him to his room, the uproar was only half as bad. 
     When the party was over at last, I said, Never Again.  The phrase rang a bell, and I wondered where I had heard it before.  Could it have been on the eighteenth of November 1953?
ODE TO TIMMY
I Know You're Out There, Timmy
     It's no more bizarre than men walking around on the moon.
     No question a little boy named Timmy still exists.  Like Peter Pan  he never grew up:  was never a rebellious teenager, never a flower child, never a confirmed bachelor, too strong a personality to be erased without an argument.  Hey, Timmy usually won his arguments.
     I remember the day he was standing on a chair next to the stove, coaching me:  turn them now, Ma (the only one of the children to call me Ma).   "Kathryn says when the bubbles come through, it's time to turn the pancakes.  Quick, you're going to burn them!"
     "Listen, son, I was making pancakes before you were born."
     Timmy, peering up to see if I am serious, "You ‑ were ‑ not! How could I eat 'em?"
     Timmy was‑‑is‑‑an unusually sensitive little boy.  Who else would come to his mother at bedtime and say, "Ma, I'm sorry about all the naughty things I did today . . . and I'm sorry  about all the naughty things I'm going to do tomorrow."     
 
     Now Big Tim has done the ultimate naughty thing and gotten a girl pregnant.  Smitten with Kathy, he  changed his mind about bachelorhood, hopes for a girl like winsome stepdaughter, Lauren, while I lean toward a  flesh‑and‑blood Timmy Jr, like the other Timmy who's out there somewhere, I just know it, driving people crazy and/or making them laugh.  If you  see him, tell him Ma still loves him.
                                  

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