It makes sense that Dominic consumes more flotsam than all the previous babies–there’s more on my floor. Does that make me feel better when I find Rainbow Loom bands in his diaper three times in a row? Hardly, but I’m glad he’s chosen to fancy something that he can swallow with apparent ease. I’d rather it be Rainbow Loom bands than little Lego’s.
While people like to remember their childhood including hours spent playing outside unsupervised, I can actually say that mine was full of unsupervised hours. That’s why I can remember burning my nostril with a just-blown-out match, or building a fort in some bushes by the parking lot of our townhouses. It’s also why I remember bringing carrots to school to feed the horses that we passed on our morning walk. It’s why my companion received a horse bite on her back on the way to school. It’s also why that same companion lost her two front teeth in a biking accident–because she was riding the handlebars of her sister’s bike when we went to buy ice cream at Thrifty. We were in sixth grade and we had our own money and we decided to ride our bikes to Thrifty ice cream–it was two miles away! That seems out of the question for a lot of kids these days.
Right now three of my girls are riding bikes and running around the block together. One of them just came in to get water and apples. She was telling me of their complicated communication system to inform each other of injury and/or location–depending on each individual’s needs–that involved a variety of “La” and “Lalas” and “Aww!” I couldn’t decipher the difference but the three sisters understand it.
They were in a little earlier telling me about a huge bug they saw. On their next turn around the block that bug was being devoured by a bird. And Stella saw what sounds like a tiny dust storm. Two pink petals got caught up in this dust storm and looked like then were chasing each other. They can’t chase each other, of course, but it looked like it to her.
Am I negligent to allow my kids to ride and run around my safe neighborhood unsupervised? Some would say yes. Perhaps I am causing more harm allowing my children to grow up believing they are under constant siege of being stolen or hurt. I was never kidnapped but I was hurt plenty as an unsupervised child. I was also frightened by taking the wrong bus as a twelve year old with my two friends but equally exhilarated by the freedom of planning a trip to the movies and stealing silver dollars from the coffee can to pay for my popcorn.
Terrible Twos. Ha ha ha.
I remember when I thought my baby was overwhelming. Nothing quite like a sassy little eight-year-old to make you start regurgitating catch phrase parental wisdom: because I SAID so!; don’t take that tone with me, missy!; go to your room! (that’s a catch-all).
Of course, babies have routines that can completely shred your sanity but darn it if they’re not adorable and totally rewarding with those cheesy, head-over-heels looks of love.
The anecdote to the sassy older children is the development of their sense of humor. While working in the back yard the other day Stella was helping me move something around. It required some huffing and puffing, not too much. She says to me, “Mom, if we were on TV doing this the closed captioning would say “effort grunts.” (Why, yes, we do have the closed captioning on our Amazon and Netflix accounts.) We laughed at her joke together. Not only was it funny, but it was enjoyable to see her make connections between all her summer TV watching and our little goings on around the house. It doesn’t totally rot your brain.
I’ve realized that I really can’t spend too much time thinking about the passage of time. If I do I become intolerably melancholy. Gianna turned seven today. That’s nearer a decade than it is to her birthday. I still remember her first birthday. I still remember her BIRTHday.
I can’t really call it wallowing in sentimentality, but when I do spend too much energy considering the passage of time it’s almost too much for me to bear. In addition to a birthday, today we bought Rowena’s kindergarten supplies. That’s our third child going into kindergarten. And the first year sees so much change. She’ll be able to read over my shoulder before I know it.
I take comfort in knowing that these feelings aren’t particular to me. C.S. Lewis says, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” This brings me great solace. It’s not just that I’m not cut out for the rapid aging of my children, it’s that I–and they–were not made for this world. The rapid passage of our mortal time here is not *natural* to our selves. We were made for eternity. Now, I don’t like to think about what it’s going to take for me, or my children, to pass from this world to the next.
When I’m washing dishes at the end of another birthday I must push lots of these thoughts to the back of my head or else I simply cannot function. I can’t muster the energy to imagine my life ten years from now with four teenagers in my house who will want to spend more time away from me than with me.
While floating in the pool with them all this morning I was thinking of what a particular gift, or perhaps discipline, it is to really live in the present. To be in the pool swimming with my children and to be thinking about swimming with my children. I need to make myself play their games, listen to their chatter and notice their features–today’s features. It’s too easy to mentally start planning the day even if the day doesn’t have me leaving my own home. I’m always craving a mental map of how things will play out. I’m checking off little milestones that will signify the passage of the day. And then I have a day like today that signifies the passage of seven years. Sometimes it’s almost too much for me to bear.
I’m realizing that I really have to overcome this inertia I have to writing and instantly publishing. I’m anal about misspelling and incorrect grammar–even in my texts!! When people text me, “Running late. Be at ur house soon,” I can’t help but IMMEDIATELY think, “What a friggin’ idiot.” True confession. It just annoys me so much to see the written word abused like that.
So it is with blogging. I realize that it’s a fairly fluid means of communicating. I don’t expect any other blogger that I read to have static opinions about their everyday life that they’re putting to pixel and pic. I don’t expect perfectly edited spelling and grammar, but I’ve realized that when I’m about to publish something I think, “Is that absolutely true? Will I think this same thing next week? Are my facts straight? Did I misspell or improperly construct that sentence?” It’s become a major block. Dum, I know.
It’s especially dumb when I think about making the time to write when my life is full of so many other things–good things–that take up all the little pockets of time in my life. I need to spend a little less time obsessing about quality and just produce some mediocre quantity. This is especially the case when I think about how much fun it is to go through my archives and remember funny stories about the kids that I DID manage to write down.
We’re a cornucopia of activities over here. And these are just examples from when the two big kids were still in school. Now that they’re home all day for the summer I have lots of pictures of them watching My Little Pony and their favorite Jackie Chan cartoon. Oh, the places we go!