Thinking about Katy Caboose

>My husband has a thing for Bill Peet books.  I had never heard of Bill Peet, and when he brought home The Caboose Who Got Loose, I rolled my eyes at him after reading one page.  This was way over the head of my two-year-old.  But, since I have an entire (floor to ceiling) bookshelf filled with children’s books that I love that are also too old for him, I figured I shouldn’t say anything.

Until he started reading the book to Sebastian.  Did I mention that the kid is two?  And that the book takes forever to read and includes vocabulary that I might have to explain to my fourth graders?  Sebastian, of course, decided to request it over and over and over again, driving me insane because I wanted to read other, shorter books to him at night.

Now he has that book entirely memorized, and I’m pretty sure I do, too.  He understands it based on what I have told him about each page, like that Katy is nervous about being up so high as she travels up the “steep mountain grade” at the end of the train.

After reading the book a hundred times, I can’t stop thinking about Katy Caboose.  She doesn’t like being a caboose.  She wants to live somewhere peaceful and quiet and traveling up those mountains terrifies her.  She dreams of escaping.  One day she meets a little shack that tells her he wishes he were a caboose because she has the “best life.”  She leaves again, determined to be satisfied with her lot in life.  And yet… she isn’t.  As soon as the train starts up the mountainside again, she is nervous and upset all over again, sure she is going to crash down and hating the exhaust that she travels through at the back of the steam-engine-powered train.

And then it happens… Katy is jerked free of the train, goes careening down the curve and flies off the track.  Derailed!  She would have had her nightmares realized and been smashed to bits except that she gets stuck between two evergreen trees.  The crew who comes looking for her doesn’t find her, and she gets to live out her days in peace and quiet, with a beautiful view.

Many people have told me recently that I sound a bit down and out, depressed, tired, etc.  They have told me that I have a lot to be thankful for (true), that I have accomplished a lot in my life (perhaps), and that this discontent will pass.  I’ve tried to say that I agree, and to go on and be a happy caboose at the end of the train.  But you know what?  Katy couldn’t deny who she was and what she wanted, and neither can I.  Sure, there is a lot to be grateful for, and overall I love so much of my life, especially the three guys with whom I share what I hope is a happy home.

Yet I want more.

The thing is, that’s ok.  It’s good to feel a little uneasy sometimes in life, to feel that itch that there is something else waiting for you to open your eyes and make a move.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t spend a moment (or ten) every day smelling Theo’s head or kissing his soft, chubby cheek.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t feel my heart leap as high as Sebastian does when he jumps into my arms after a good nap, chattering about what he will have for snack from the brown cupboard.

I can do all of that, and still want to find my own path.  Something that is more than diapers and laundry and dishes and playdates, and even something more than grading papers and writing lesson plans.

The real difference, I’ve decided, between Katy Caboose and me is that she waited for it to happen.  It happened by luck, and it was only by chance that she wasn’t lost in the process.  For me, it’s going to be by choice.

My choice right now is to keep soaking up these precious, sticky, chaotic moments while I can… and keep my eyes open for what’s next.

3 Responses to Thinking about Katy Caboose
  1. Nell
    December 13, 2010 | 9:05 am

    >This is one of the absolute "bestest" things you've written. Thank you!

  2. Lori
    December 13, 2010 | 9:24 am

    >Whoa! (and I don't mean like a train 'whoa') This truly is one of the better pieces, likely due to the message of tenacity and self-direction that we all hope to accomplish. Fantastic reminder to remain in control of our lives–thanks, Jessica! You are an inspiration to others, just like your folks.

  3. paulette
    December 20, 2010 | 4:43 pm

    >hi jessicacare maree shared your blog with me after her party sunday. i really enjoy reading it, and will be a new follower. it is good to refresh my memory on the baby days as i'll be back there in may!lovely to meet you and your family, thank you for sharing such great posts.

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