April 24, 2011
Yesterday morning, you rolled around in half-sleep, kicking your feet down my shirt, into my face, and laying them to rest on Dinah’s head. Dinah will tolerate abuse from any loving human — she would have made a great mama cat.
Finally your feet made it back to my mouth, and I nibbled your toes. You laughed.
Though I could have used a few more minutes to lie in bed, I was already getting annoyed at your rough touches. Because you are rough. And you are loud.
You say everything with an !
” ‘tend eat it Mom!” (You yell as you hand me a playdough creation.)
“Go outside and watch Matches play catch Mom!” (Certainly not in question form, you demand to see Matthew and your dada playing catch.)
“Do you ant to see my new bouncy balls? They are so cool. They are awesome. They are in the car. Let’s go get them!”
You are polite.
I ask, “do you need a new diaper, Sam?”
“No shank you mama.”
You ask sweetly, “Please may I have more?”
You are exact.
Bringing your dad his “basketball cleats” from the closet, wearing one on your arm, the other carried along, you tell us, “I have one on my hand and one in my hand.”
You pretend to eat, you pretend to swing a bat, you pretend to pitch a ball, you pretend to dribble, you pretend to run from the dragons swimming in the carpet. And then, “gotta go catch them, Dad!”
Sit down Mom. Clap for me Mom. Get up Mom. No, Mom! My want play catch Mom. My want so much, Mom. So much! (We try to use the smallest bowls so we can fill up to the top, as you demand.)
“My am wearing my glove on.”
“Let’s do it!”
And my favorite — on arrival you often wake in your carseat after a short nap, shouting “yay!” and clapping your hands.
You are insistent.
No, my do it! My do it! No, my try! My gonna get the ball!
“Let’s share,” you say, as you eye my snack.
“Ta da!” (After just about anything)
“What you doing, Mom?”
“What is that?” (You say what instead of who.)
“Why not?” I’m certain you learned this whining phrase from your brothers. You’ll even start saying it before I answer no.
My ball. That’s my food. That’s my ball. That’s my car. That’s my chair. That’s my couch. (As you push me off the cushion.)
You are two.
April 1, 2011
Today we snuck to town for sushi and ice cream, and you laughed. You laughed and laughed. Then your dada laughed and then I laughed and you laughed some more.
It’s hard to see anything else but you, sometimes. But when we were at the ice cream shop, I know there were other people smiling because of you.
The best thing about being your parents is that you laugh at our jokes. Doesn’t that sound self-centered? But I think you know what I mean. It’s nice when someone just gets you, you know?
You’ll be two on Thursday. There’s so much I want to tell you, so much I want to teach you. Can I fit it all in? In those infrequent hours we keep? I must have worked 56 hours this week, and the weather hasn’t been too bad, so you’ve spent much of that time outside, walking around town. Your dad takes you to the post office, and to the coffee shop, and you visit with the dogs out behind the coffee shop, and you look at the water in the creek. You eat orange chips. (Sounds healthy and fruity, doesn’t it? They’re CHEETOS. Shh, don’t tell my mother.) You take a ball or three to the tennis courts, you take a basketball to the basketball hoops that are on every block in our town. You do all these things and I barely see a glimpse of you sometimes until I stop working, and this week, it wasn’t until 6 on most nights.
You are very two. Everything is all yours (speaking of self-centered). And of course, you want to do everything yourself.
You say, “my do it” and “let my try.” You say, “my phone” and “my ball.” You want some very exact things, but haven’t the patience (though I bet you have the words) to say what it is. “Stop Dada!” you yell, when he follows you to my office door. And then when he reaches you, you throw yourself down to the floor crying.
Most of the time, I’m not in a meeting.
But sometimes I am, and I’m sorry, but seriously kid — you gotta stop that.
You can dribble 8 or 10 times in a row now. You still hit the ball, but now we see you watching it connect with your swinging bat. Max asked you, “what’s one plus one” and you answered “two.” Not sure where you learned that, but your brothers aren’t copping to it. They want you to shine all on your own (for now).
Baseball season starts tomorrow. Your brothers are ready. You’re ready too. You’re ready to play. “Please may I hit the ball, Mom?”
Where are you going? I ask. You tell me, “Target to buy d’new Curious George. We’ll be right back. Bye mom.” [blows kisses kisses, waves] “Bye!” “Bye matches.” (matthew) “Bye!” [waves, blows kisses] “Bye Kesey, bye balls. Please can bring some balls?”
You’re clever. When your dad asked you, “What’s tree plus tree?” You answered with a smile, “two.”
Yup, two trees. You have so much to teach me.
February 26, 2011
We went to Target today. Max, you and I. I was prepared this time — prepared to relax. Prepared to play with you in the aisles as you rolled that luggage, bounced this ball, carried that package around. We made it, and I barely felt exasperated. I’m not sure when I became so uptight (might have been sometime while pregnant with you, I hate to say it), but I let it go today.
You hadn’t had a nap yet, but you’re mostly reasonable, and such a sweet baby. Have I mentioned that? You know, you love animals so much. You’ll walk up to a cat and gingerly pet its head, bend over to eye level and say, “hi kitty, hi.”
You want to do whatever your brothers do. Today was baseball tryouts for them. You walked around in your (too-big) cleats, mitt on your hand, baseball in the other hand. When just recently they were your “soccer cleats,” today they’re your “baseball shoes.” “Tie my baseball shoe, mama” you say to me. “Please mom?”
Driving back from Target, driving along the safety corridor at 50 mph, I saw a formation of geese. The line of geese undulated in the sky, reminding me of a garter snake in the river in the summer. It was a V, then a straight line, then a wave. I couldn’t tell what direction it was going — south, east, north?
It was warm sun today, biting cold wind. You won’t wear a jacket. You’re very much two already, you know. Stubborn.
You’re still sleeping well. You fall asleep in the big bed, and I move you over to your little bed when I go to sleep. You’ve been staying there all night — not a fuss. It’s amazing. Is it any wonder I’m feeling better these days? I promise I will keep feeling better.
Those geese were flying against the wind, changing positions faster than I had ever seen, but hardly making headway. As one became tired, he’d drop back behind another. From down below, it was a beautiful movement – the flowing of that skein of geese. They flowed.
And maybe that’s what we look like — the five of us in this family. We might not be making headway too fast, and it might just feel like each one of us is dropping back (falling down, falling apart) too frequently, but I think we’re moving forward… together.
February 21, 2011
It’s been months since I’ve written to you.
A week ago I weaned you cold-turkey. We pulled apart and it hurt us both and now look at you, so independent! Fiercely independent. “No, Mom, go back in the house!” You said to me today, after I got off of work, and wanted to check on you and Max. You and Max go on short walks down to the corner, or the other way across the street and to the basketball hoop. You two are finally bonding. Fiercely.
In just a couple of weeks, you’ll be 23 months old. We’re taking a road trip to San Diego, and then I’m flying by myself to Orlando. You’ll be fine with your dad. Though just a couple weeks ago, you still woke and cried for me in the night, now you’re sleeping all night in your own bed, and climbing out all by yourself to find me at my desk.
You talk and talk and talk. You’re figuring out the articles and prepositions, and you’re starting to get the order of words right. You like to add “y” to the end of names — Mommy, Daddy, Maxxy, Matchesy. (You call Matthew, Matches.)
You still love balls. Fiercely so.
You carry one in one hand always, and only throw a ball if you have an extra. We have a cubby box that is stuffed to the gills with just balls, of every shape and color. You have a gift of finding balls — a baseball here, a golf ball there. You will spot an orphan ball across a field at the park, and demand we walk over and pick it up. You also like to borrow balls from the neighbors’ yards. I swear we’ll return them all eventually. You throw them, hit them, kick them, shoot them, dribble them. You can dribble!
A few nights ago, you wanted to read by yourself. “Read a book by myself, mama.” You sat in the big bed, blanket pulled up to your chest, and said the words you remembered from the book we read the night before.
The last few months have been busy, chaotic, up-and-down emotional. A couple weeks ago, my work friend Caetano died of cancer. I’m so sad to hear that he’s not here anymore. He leaves behind his wife and 5 year-old boy, and quadruplet 2-year-olds. His smile used to light up the office, and if I asked about his wife or kids, his love emanated around the room. Amazing man, so full of life. I’m comforted to know that it’s possible to be as positive as Caetano. I was thinking about him last month, and am left feeling there was something I wanted to ask him. I wanted to ask about his kids, ask how he is, how he is doing… RIP good man.
There was Halloween, and the problem of what to do with baby pumpkins. Roll them. Stack them. Lick them. Carry them. Throw them.
When the stem was sharp and kept sticking your hand and you’d tell me “hurt” and “sharp” and point to your palm and I figured you would have to find a different way to play with the pumpkins, but finally you had enough. “Hurt sharp cut knife?” You pointed towards the kitchen, wanting me to cut off the point of the stem with a knife.
Too smart. Solving problems for yourself. Later you asked the same for the second baby pumpkin, and I sawed off the sharp tip with our old junky serrated knife.
There was Christmas, and you so carefully took care of the tree. You were not wild nor rebellious, and you took care not to knock all the ornaments off. In fact, I kept the tree (lazily) up until far after New Years.
A week after Christmas, your dad and I got married.
Imagine for a moment: a small intimate family wedding, just the two of us at the county courthouse, with three boys by our sides. The judge is a county employee, nicely dressed, a light blue cardigan open with a lovely flower brooch at the top button. The family is led to a back room, windowless, but full of old rusted filing cabinets with labels such as “Marriage Licenses 1906” and I’m charmed. Precious papers stored here. Commitments made and broken. Thousands and thousands of families recorded in this one little room.
There are also office chairs back here. Three of them. With wheels.
In walk the children.
Do I need to tell you about your brothers? They’ve always been this way. Any situation that requires consideration, any situation with even a bit of gravity, whether it be a wedding or a funeral, a napping baby, or gosh, I don’t know, someone recovering with a hangover? They’re off the walls.
And they wanted to roll on those chairs while bouncing off the walls. We interrupt the ceremony. The judge interrupts the ceremony. We do the vows twice (maybe she wanted to be doubly sure we’d make it through with these kids). I tried to be calm to your brothers.
But it was crazy. And I’m sure we’ll look back at it, and just remember that one sweet second when we could look at each other and say a sweet word.
So that, darling baby, is the reason we don’t have any photos of the day your parents got married.
Last month, there was a shooting in Arizona where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was meeting with the locals outside of a grocery store. 19 people were shot. Six died, including Gabe Zimmerman, who your dad knew and worked with a few years ago at Kinderland.
There was a numbness in our house, a distance.
What can I say? I can’t express the anger and sadness and helplessness that I feel. And anger.
You weren’t sleeping well before. You’d wake and cry out. You’d talk in your sleep. You’d toss and turn. You’d nurse. You’d nurse and nurse. You exhausted me.
And because you weren’t sleeping well, we often had to take you on drives to get you to sleep for a nap. Especially on weekends, when the house isn’t quiet enough for you to sleep anyway.
We live in a small town near the river. On a nap drive in January, I counted 55 vehicles parked on the river. More than that many men standing on the side of the road, walking down the bank, up to their thighs in the river. A cold winter day, the sun was out, the river down, the water clear. A good day to fish.
Sometimes we take you down West End Road, a back country road, where you can fall asleep while we pass the goats and sheep and cows. There are great blue herons that hang out down there. Rows of blackbirds up on the telephone lines. The pygmy goat munching in the sun. Brand new baby sheep, fuzzy black legs.
We love it here, fiercely so.