Monday, April 14, 2008

Weekend in review – Saturday – laughter and Greco-Roman wrestling

L has been laughing for a while now, but short laughs, one- or two- or three note laughs. On Saturday morning she laughed for the entire walk from upstairs to downstairs. M had gone to shul early because he was davening Musaf, so I was trying to get the two girls (and me) dressed for synagogue by myself. E was very into L that morning, wanting her to do everything that she, E, was doing herself. So I changed L's diaper while I changed E's diaper. They both lay on the floor, one diaper off, second diaper off, first crotch wiped, second crotch wiped, new diaper on, new diaper on, everybody up for clothes over tushies. Then they got dressed together, L wearing a new dress from Grandma, E wearing a new dress from Grams. Then E tried to insist that L needed shoes, too, just like she had. (L doesn't need shoes – she can't even crawl. Pointing this out, however, did not further my argument in E's eyes.) And then, E wanted to walk downstairs together. "I hold her hand, Mama. And I hold the railing and I hold her hand and you hold L and you hold her hand and I hold her other hand and I hold the railing." And a mother more sane than I, or more patient as pertains to setting and enforcing limits might not have found herself walking backwards down a flight of stairs cradling an infant whose hand was being held by a toddler who was barely remembering to hold on to anything to keep her own body from tumbling. But these lookalike sisters giggled in unison for all fourteen steps, and hearing that it was worth it.

For this next vignette from our weekend, you might need this: va-.
After shul's brief reunion we again split the family up, and Mark took L home and I took E (still in our shul clothes) to her friend Lulú's birthday party in her home. While the girls are in a secular school, that's where we've decided to draw the line – parties in a house on a Saturday, okay. Parties or events in a commercial venue on a Saturday – over our line. So far, it works well for us. E had a great time and Lulú had a great time and all the kids loved seeing each other out of their normal environments. Lulú's grandmother has the same name as E, and has always heard stories about Lulú's friend, so she was very pleased to meet E in person at the beginning of the afternoon. An austere woman well into her 80s, she and Lulú's grandfather sat in straight-backed chairs in the living room and with twinkling eyes observed the merriment and chaos of the whole party from their spots against the wall. At one point, E and Tariq were so excited about playing with each other that they kept embracing each other and falling to the floor mid-embrace. And they were rolling over and over, not letting go, and giggling and shrieking with delight. Also that afternoon, E got into an excited round of Tickle Monster with her beloved friend SMA. The two of them were rolling over each other at the edge of the living room when E popped up suddenly and yelled about SMA accidentally kicking her. The whole room, including Lulú's grandmother, heard her exclamation and turned to look at her. "My 'gina hurts! My 'gina hurts!" Luckily I lost my ability to blush months ago. And E and her 'gina are just fine. Just as the whole room got silent, she was the first to reinstitute the volume, by squealing as she belly-flopped on SMA's back.
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Weekend in review – Friday – grief and screeching

It was actually Thursday afternoon that we received the news that Ms. Yolanda was suddenly fired from E and L's daycare. Yolanda has a special place in our hearts for being the teacher that navigated E through the rocky world of a one-year-old. She took E into her class as a crawling baby who couldn't speak, had never slept on a cot, and couldn't sit still to eat. She sent her away from her class firmly when she turned two – firmly because she knew E was ready to move up; but also firmly because E was so attached to her she would never voluntarily leave her. E still couldn't sit still to eat, but she could speak in chapters and slept just fine for naps on a cot, especially as Yolanda visited her new classroom each day at 12:30 lovingly to tuck her in and kiss her sweet dreams for several weeks after she transitioned to the older class. But Yolanda, a single mom with two school-age kids, had been late to work too many days, and was let go. E loves Yolanda and speaks about her all the time, and we were very much looking forward to the day that L graduated to her class and benefited from her love and teaching, too. E sometimes refers to her daycare as 'Landa's house and if you ask her who loves her she'll say Mommy and Daddy and L and 'Landa and then maybe concede to adding other names to the list, like her grandparents or classmates. She doesn't see 'Landa every day anymore, and thus far has not noticed her absence, but we know she truly loves her. We haven't told her anything yet because she'll be devastated. And we don't really know what to say. Yolanda's departure marks the real loss E will feel in her life. But – a flurry of angry commiseration among Yolanda's fan club members led to an impromptu afternoon picnic on Friday at a nearby playground. It was in the 80s on Friday. I cut out of work a little early, M picked up L at daycare and took her home, and I took E to the playground to run around with her friends before Shabbat started. I had used my lunch hour to pick up a few snacks to bring, and I also bought sidewalk chalk, which was a big hit – and E was so proud to be the owner of so much fun in a box. Mama, I carry my ch'lawk! I carry my ch'lawk by my SELF. She displayed her Communist tendencies again and spat out the tiny bite she had tried of an Entenmann's chocolate chip cookie. And then. She saw it. The Big Slide. The one with a really tall ladder, a purple climbing armature alternate access route, and a tunnel. And she was thrilled and scared all at once. Her more courageous friends SMA and Gus were up and over and down a dozen times before she was ready to try, but she had a determined look on her face, and I knew she was going to get up there. Not content to take the ladder path, E set her little feet on the big purple climbing route, the one with the bars spaced waaaay-toooo-far for her little two-year-old-girl legs. Mama, I climb this purple by myself and you hold my tushie, okay? And with a few vertical encouragements from my hand under her butt while she climbed "by herself," that obstinate little creature made it to the top of the slide, the hard way. And expressed her excitement at her accomplishment in her most instinctive way, by yelling as loudly as she could. And, oh, the reverberations from the inside of the tunnel. My friends, the parents of E's friends, having seen her abilities before they only smiled knowingly, thinking probably about how E wears her emotions on her vocal chords, how much spunk she has, how she overcame her trepidation, and how glad they are that their children aren't that loud. But the other families at the park, the strangers whose space we had invaded, the actual neighbors to this neighborhood gathering place – they looked horrified. And then probably began texting their HMOs to sign up for audial screenings so they can sue me for damages. Once E made that terrific noise all of her friends had to try screaming inside the slide tunnel. Audrey screamed. Son-son screamed. Limmy-Liam screamed, Gus screamed, and oh, SMA, did he scream. So – sorry, locals. But our kids had a great time crashing your party. And to my friends – I'll buy the first round of hearing aid batteries.
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