Friday, October 31, 2014

On this bittersweet day we give pause to honor daycare Halloween, 2006-2014

Disguised unconvincingly as a small human child, the young dragon loped to the car. Docilely, he allowed the straps. His might was on the verge of a great awakening. His strength, his glory -- he could feel them inside himself. Solidifying, readying.

There's a reason spectacular creatures carry the heart of all the greatest stories. His emerald scales glittered untamely in the pale sunlight. Even when he wasn't doing anything that special he was magestic.

Would he be a hero today, a champion, gracing preschool with his grace and light? Or would all that energy come unbounded today, delivering chaos and destruction? Nobody ever knows in sunrise what a day will bring.

Nobody knows what a young dragon's future holds.

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

The fleeting evenings

I hold a fear, the worst kind, the one in which I'm recognizing an inevitable truth and fretting on it anyway, one years off and yet it bothers me, one that is so unexceptional and declining and trite; not a fear of getting old, exactly, as if that isn't banal enough. I fear the day when I'm a little old lady who has to wear turtleneck sweaters in the summer. When I get cold I can't get warm and winters make me cranky and I've always understood "cold in my bones" not as a phrase but a state of being and every year it becomes more acute.

And I really loathe turtleneck sweaters, you guys. They make my neck claustrophobic. But I am going to have hoods and shawls and scarves. And by that list I mean: I will have them all at once upon me. And still I will be cold; and I'll look back on my 30s when I didn't know how not-yet-cold I was.

So the girls were choreographing a show yesterday. They were on the front lawn. L was wearing just her underpants at just the last season, maybe, where it's (allegedly) warm enough outside to do so and she's childlishly immodest enough to do so. E was in a tank top and shorts. There was one star in the sky, then two, and to the left the air was fuzzy gray and cobalt and to the right, just over the neighbors' oak, the blues dropped into fuchsia and clementine and gold. We always get the best sunsets just over the across-the-street house lines, just out of perfect sight. They make me want to climb on the roof, every time.

E had a baton with sparkly streamers that she got at the circus ages ago and L had a baton made out of two paper towel rolls, one wedged into the other for length and gravitas. And the show was long, which is all the things childhood should be, because they'd spent forever outside choreographing, outdoors and free play and imaginative reuse and rhythm and math and whimsy and creative spirit. And they wanted me to watch their show. And I barely could, because I don't know if you know this, but it's late October and the sun was running away. I was cold.

So one brought me the stool out of the bathroom that they climb on to reach the faucets and spared me the concrete stoop or cool grass. And one brought me my sweater, draped over the newel post. And I carried out my mug of tea and huddled in the shawl of my collar, foreshadowing the pitiful shrunken shivering creature I'll one day be.

The show was like most of their shows, a capella humming and some combination of gymnastics, silliness, very measured turn-taking, and improvisation. It was nearly too dark to see and a third star came out, a fourth and a fifth. And I was so cold and getting colder. But they weren't, they were joie-de-vivreing, you know, gloriously yawping with discards salvaged from the recycle bin, and soon it will be too cold outside even for them.

And I'll do anything to stave off winter so I sat and beamed and clapped and smiled, for the show and its encore and its other encore, because they still felt the zest of everything.


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Monday, October 13, 2014

A first last

Last week I stayed late at work while the lovely husband collected all the kids so I could venture downstairs after hours to G's preschool. It was back-to-school night.

I almost didn't go, having sung and danced this routine before. It was my ninth back-to-school night there. Same classrooms, same teachers. The same core group of women have raised my babies from infants to readers, from burp cloths to flying leaps. I knew what they'd say, and a sweep of gratitude and nostalgia made me once more want to hear them say it.

Today I spent the day with G, as his school and my work were closed for Columbus Day. The other three had regular days and next year he'll go off as well, this day no longer ours, just mine. And oh I'll sleep and sip coffee and hug my solitude. But beginning with that evening in the classroom last week I was shoved into a small panic that this is the beginning of littleness's end.

I gave G his bath. He sits in bubbles so thick they fly when he blows. They cling in his crevices, folds of baby fat sure one day soon to melt away forever, and he plays naked and happy, oblivious, having no want for privacy or solitude, only that I hand him another toy and bargain again three more minutes until hair washing. The girls take showers now. And of course they do, but, oh.

He asked me to tie his shoes and then he asked me to switch my shoes so they might match his and then he stomped in a rain puddle because that's what four-year-olds do and then his feet were wet and he wanted to change his shoes and then he wanted me to change mine. He called our day an all-day date and how cute that he wanted us to match and it won't be much longer, I'm sure, that he wants us to match. It was our last Columbus Day together, but it was last week, back-to-school night, that knocked me askew.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Skipping Yom Kippur

The eldest wild found a fever on Friday, and our family ritual bifurcated into the communal adherents, driving to synagogue and listening to sermons and standing and sitting and solemnity; and the fever snuggles marathon book reader and attentive mama never too far beyond reach.

I think this is the second Yom Kippur in eight years I've missed due to this girl and her ill-timed maladies. She doesn't need much now when she's sick but she always wants me right there. So: Yom Kippur in yoga pants. It's a thing now. I complied.

We read together, and read our way right into what we would have heard, more or less, in synagogue:

They all knelt down by their chairs, and Reverend Alden asked God, Who knew their hearts and their secret thoughts, to look down on them there, and to forgive their sins and help them do right. A quietness was in the room while he spoke. Laura felt as if she were hot, dry, dusty grass parching in a drought, and the quietness was a cool and gentle rain falling on her. It truly was a refreshment. 
--excerpted from "On the Pilgrim Way," a chapter in By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

It wasn't the same, But a little bit it was.

She's better now. And on we go. Pin It

Monday, September 8, 2014

New shoes

We bought the girls, as is custom, shiny new sneakers to start the school year. After a summer of sandals or bare feet and lots of growth, they need new sneakers, but I play it as a new-school-year extravagance. It's important to celebrate new beginnings, especially for the kids who are hesitant to see the good in new beginnings. New sneakers are more than school-mandated footwear, they're a reinforcement that what's to come is significant and special.

So we measured feet and we got new shoes purple as purple and pink as pink, and then L did that thing she's done before. New shoes that fit generously on the first day of school were, no joke, uncomfortably small by the second week of school. She grows in actual spurts, literal, not time-lapsed over weeks. She's the kudzu of childhood. So we got new-new shoes, and now the big girl has glowing purple feet and the slightly-less-big girl has turquoise ones.

I had barely used new pink shoes in my hand and I mumbled what great shape they were in, and how we should donate them, and a certain someone who watches his sisters mark their relationship, among other ways, through the shared memories formed on the fibers of hand-me-downs, this certain someone jumped up and yelled with determination.


They are, truth be told, sneakers ordered from the girls' side of Zappos. He is, truth be told, 26 months younger than L and exactly one-half shoe size smaller. And real men wear pink.

He is one cool little brother. And his toes get compliments everywhere he goes.

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