When she acquired a Little Big Bird of her own via the gift shop and wanted to do nothing besides hug him with all her might, I took E on her first carousel ride. Carousels, like so many things for E, blink bright PROCEED WITH CAUTION signs. The first time she saw one she ran from the noise and the movement and the so-much-that-she-can’t-control-ness of its premise. That stimulation is the draw, for so many children. For E, the stimulation is a wild beast to conquer, and the conquering is the draw. Several times we’ve passed a carousel and she’s stood and watched, and the watching was enough. This was the first time she wanted to ride.
And then we started the holiday for which we had traveled. We ate and we drank and we sang. We saw old friends from M’s childhood and from mine, and played with all of their wonderful children. I noticed his childhood friend is now graying at the temples, and I was delighted. We're all growing old together, I thought.
We spent days with family whose only flaw is that they love the girls so intensely that the girls sometimes run from all that pulsating love. They acclimate, and then another shockwave comes through the room. A hug squeezed too long, a kiss begged for too frequently, “I love you”s meant with nothing more than the flags they fly still rain down, if there are enough of them, to make a little girl feel stung from all the droplets. I shelter them gently, teasing them gently: what a terrible problem to be so loved. But I understand what they’re feeling, and I hope they’ll one day understand what I mean, too. They seek shelter in my arms, or their father’s, and we encourage them to go back out, test the air, see if they can weather some more. Four walls can hold So Much hyperoxygenated LOVE. It could squash them but if they let it, it could also buoy them along on the palpating currents, a magic carpet ride on invisible gifts from their ancestors.
Either way you ride the ride, clutching for the steady bar or giggling as you throw your hands up in the air, you’re exhausted when the music stops.
And so coming home is always as comforting as leaving is exhilarating. We all slept in our own beds and awoke to our own space, our own routines. This morning two of us got ready for work and two of us got ready for school and when I dropped off the girls this morning, only one thing was different. An opening finally came for L in the toddler room and so that is where I delivered her this morning. The lead teacher there had been the lead teacher in the infant room when E first started, and she was the woman who hugged me the first day I left my first baby. She told me everything would be okay, she told me she’d call and give me reports, she gave my baby a kiss and she gently sent me on my way.
Everything comes and comes again. I’ve left a second daughter in Ms. Hagi’s arms, though this one was wrestling not for head control to sit upright but for control of the yogurt spoon. I’ve graduated a second child out of the sacred infant space. We’ve navigated another family visit, and we’ve all come home again. We’ve traversed another milestone. This is the ride to be riding.