Showing posts with label Carler. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carler. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

But there are no cousins on the visible family tree

I've been preoccupied with something at work and awash in memories and preparing for the next snowstorm, which should come tomorrow night and mess with Thursday, which is G's fourth birthday. That boy. Four is so big. Four years ago I awaited his arrival through the biggest snowstorm in all our time in Maryland. Four years ago he was born as we watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. We're in a time loop this week.

The birthday boy, when asked how he wishes to celebrate, concocted a wholly unique and G-ish scheme. He wants me to come to his classroom with ingredients and his favorite spatula. He wants to bake blueberry muffins with his friends. Yes, I said, because that's all he wants. Yes, I'll bring the sugar and the flour and the butter and the eggs and the blueberries and your favorite spatula and your whisk. But I think we'll be baking at home. I think we'll be snowed in. You should probably mark the 2016 Olympics for a storm right now. G brings the tempest. I'll bring the blueberries.

Remember Carler? G has concocted his cousins. They are his playmates. If we can't stop what we're doing to play Sorry with him, he consoles himself by telling us he'll play with his cousins instead. When one of the girls has a friend over to play, G announces he's going to play at his cousins'. And those cousins: they love blueberry muffins.

I don't know how many cousins there are, but they always seem to travel in a pack. I asked if they have names, but G explains to me now that they don't; they're robots.

They're robots, you wonder? I did. He says yes. They're made of glass. They don't have bones, he explains.

Age four is going to be good. I love this boy. I love his cousins. It's good to welcome some new invisible playmates to our crew.

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Friday, November 30, 2012

Out of sight

Someone lost another tooth this week. It was the first lost tooth of first grade, the fifth overall, and this one had me nervous.

Ever since we were at that birthday party at the beginning of the school year where I changed the conversation with E so she wouldn't hear her classmates discussing the nonexistence of unicorns, I've been fretting over the disappearance of magical thinking.

No, that's not true at all, is it. I've been watching her imagination fold into itself, a more and more private thing, ever since we said goodnight to her invisible friend Carler.

(I love you, Carler.)

It's fine for other girls to have no faith in unicorns, although it makes me saddened for the contractions of their childhoods. But my sweet E, and my sweet L behind her, and that wild boy G who believes he's a wolf or a tiger, I want them to believe in anything possible for as long as they can. I don't want them to doubt the world. Doubt is slippery, and once it creeps in it might go anywhere.

I didn't want E walking into school filled with happiness and have some kid stomp on her vision of a world that still includes magical creatures. I didn't want them to ruin the tooth fairy.

But everything magic has stayed intact another week. E told her class at the first opportunity, in Lightning Share at Morning Meeting, which is a time where each student can offer one exciting bit of news but nobody responds.

Long live the tooth fairy.


Today is the last day of November. Thank you, you sweet things, for reading with me through my fifth NaBloPoMo. Tomorrow is December, which means two things:

1) I probably won't blog tomorrow. Why? Just because.
2) We'll be entering the month of L's fifth birthday. It's time to send in her enrollment papers for the Tooth Fairy Network.

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

A fond farewell

Oh Carler, how we've loved thee. After tonight I'll never extol your virtues again.

Carler, you might remember, was our first son -- the not made boy-child borne of E's imagination who spent many special moments with us. (That was her way of explaining that though he is real, none of us can see him.) We snuggled him when he felt ill and enjoyed tales of his adventures at summer camp and even baked him birthday cakes. He was first E's friend, then her big brother, then her kid, albeit one who has always been older than her. He is a veritable miracle of life. E loves him dearly.

Tonight after I turned out her light, E burst into tears. Mama, I have something to tell you and I'm scared to say it.

Carler is fake.

I knew I had to choose my words carefully.

"I don't care," I told her. "I've always loved him, just like I've always loved you." Her whole body was listening. She was completely still.

"He's important to you, and he comes from your imagination and your storytelling and your heart and those are all things that are wonderful about you and important to me. I don't care if Carler's real or fake like most people use those words. He's an important part of our family."

She relaxed into my arms and burst into a new explosion of tears.

I'm scared of growing up.

"Is this about Carler being real?" She nodded.

I'm scared big kids won't understand him. I'm scared they'll laugh at me.

We talked and talked. I told her that part of growing up is deciding for yourself what you believe, even if it's not what everyone else believes. I told her that another part of growing up is not giving all of yourself away to everybody (and won't that thought lay some important groundwork for later conversations) -- that she can believe in Carler without telling anybody that she believes in Carler.

I do believe in Carler! she cried hysterically into my elbow.

"It's okay," I shushed her. "It's okay..."

I rubbed her belly until the sobs abated and then I lifted her naked arm, resting on top of the blanket, into my right hand. With my left hand I gently squeezed her elbow.

"Being five is like standing on a bridge," I told her. I finger-walked from elbow to shoulder. "The little kid years: being four, being three, being two, being did those already. You're not a little kid anymore, but all the things you did and saw and believed when you were a little kid are still somewhere inside you."

I squeezed her elbow again and finger-walked from elbow to wrist. "The big kid years: being six, being seven, being eight, being're not there yet, but you can see them. It's scary for lots of five-year-olds to see the big kid years in front of them. It's normal, honey."

She cried some more.

"But where you stand now, in the middle, it's pretty special -- because you can start to figure out what kind of big kid you want to be. If you want to stop believing in things like Carler, that's okay, but if you want to carry him some more in your heart, that's okay, too."

I want to keep him forever! But I don't want to talk about him. Tell Daddy and my family to forget about him.

"I will, love. Should I forget about him, too? or do you still want to talk to me about him?"

No, you should still know about him because sometimes he might need me to tell you stories, or he might need you to make him a snack.

"Okay, love. After tonight we'll talk about him but only when nobody else is around. Do you feel better now?" She nodded.

I kissed her on her cheek and I whispered in her ear. "I love you, love. Sweet dreams. And I love Carler, too, but don't tell anyone else I said that, okay?"

Out of the darkness came, like a pressure valve released, a marvelous giggle.


Protecting Carler's identity is tantamount to maintaining my daughter's trust, and so it is that we say goodbye here to his stories. I'm proud and grateful that she entrusts me with her secrets, but I'll miss Carler's presence in our daily activities and narrative. He's a good boy but it appears time that we give him some space to grow up.

Fare thee well, sweet Carler.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

On the relative importance of being seen vs. being hungry

Recently we celebrated a birthday. E told me on a Thursday that the coming Sunday was Carler's birthday. She described in detail the police car birthday cake he wanted. We planned the details intricately.

Sunday came, and we made a vanilla pound cake that E loves in a sheet cake shape. We discussed frosting and how many tints we'd need as it baked. We discussed inverting gummy bear torsos (decapitated and amputated) for siren lights. We pondered pretzel stick nubs for door handles and Oreo cookies for tires. We planned big. Carler deserves it, of course.

As the oven heated the batter and the vanilla aroma permeated the kitchen, E grew less enthused about our decorating scheme. She grew distracted. Impatient. She knelt at the oven door, peering through the glass window.

Finally, I removed it from the oven and set it to cool on a rack. Just as soon as her fingertips could tolerate its temperature, E was there, picking at the corners and stealing little crumbs for her tastebuds.

"Should we start decorating?" I asked.

Well...she equivocated. The thing is...

"What is it, love?" I couldn't imagine why her enthusiasm for decorating Carler's cake had vanished so completely.


"Yes, love?"

So, I was thinking...since we can't see Carler? I think it's okay if we can't see the police car on his cake. 

I think we should just eat it.

But we do need to sing 'Happy Birthday' first, of course. Pin It

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Faith and the four-year-old

E talks to God. E talks to God out loud, several times a day. E also talks to Carler, her invisible 'kid.' Her relationship with God is very personal and well-articulated, just like her relationship with Carler. This is not to say that she doesn't have faith; she in fact has very strong faith. It is to say rather that God is a character in her world, one she weaves into her daily narrative. She sees a school book and is inspired to help Carler with his homework; she sees a beautiful flower and is inspired to praise God.

Watching her develop her relationship with God is a curious thing for me.

Lately she has been saying a prayer of sorts to God. It sounds like a psalm, or an incantation. She weaves the same phrases around and around her tongue repeatedly, swirling them, modifying them, and returning to their origins. She says this prayer spontaneously whenever she is moved to do so, but she calls it her poem:

God, I love you for days and days and weeks and weeks and years and years. I love the whole beautiful world you made for us. Thank you, God, for this world. I love you, God, and you love me. God loves us and we love you, God. God loves us forever. God loves everyone. Everyone loves you. God loves us. You love me and I love you from day to day. I love you every day and every week and every year and from day to day I'll always love you. Thank you, God, for loving me. I love you.
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Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Surrogate

It's time for another episode in The Continuing Adventures of CarlerTM.

We were all getting dressed this morning. The big girl proclaimed, I want ponytails! So the little girl asserted, Mama, I want poeytails! "Go," I said to the girls. "Bring me rubber bands and clips."

The big girl sat obligingly. Comb, part, pull, tug, twist, pull, tug, twist. Two ponytails. One happy girl.

The little girl sat. Mama, I get poeytails! Comb, part, pull - . "Sweet girl, hold still." Comb, part - "Love..." Comb, part, pull - . "E, sit right here in front of your sister so she looks straight ahead. Tell her a story." I don't know what to say! "Why don't you tell her about when you met Carler?"

Okay, Mama! Well, L, Carler is my friend. I've known him since before he was born because he was a baby in my tummy. His daddy gave him to me and I'm his mommy. The doctors cut me open and put him in me for until he was born. And then he was born and I gave him to his other mommy. And then Enny and then Henny were in my belly, too. And they're also my friends because I'm one of their mommies. And now I have two babies in my belly. Twins! They're in my belly for Carler's family. So that's why I have babies in my belly - just like you have, Mama! You have a baby and I have two babies. Okay, L? So Carler was my first baby in my tummy but I have lots of babies and that's why he's not made but he's my friend.

What L thought of that story, I don't know. But I have always wondered about the origins of Carler - and I got L's ponytails done. Pin It

Monday, November 2, 2009

Beware of narts

Seating arrangements are pretty fluid in our house. The girls move around the table like some mysterious round of musical chairs is in effect, though only they can hear the music. So while L frequently sits in the chair by the baking cabinet, last night at dinner she dragged her pink booster to the chair by the banister. Everyone else had settled in to their ketchup (with hot dogs) (except for E, who ate plain spaghetti and two pints of raspberries) so I was left with L’s vacated chair near the baking cabinet.

I almost sat, and then stopped. “Ew,” I said, noticing the sludge on the wood seat. Moisture had gotten trapped under the booster, as had some corn kernels. I set my plate down and grabbed a baby wipe. (Three baby wipes, really; that’s how many the decontamination required.) Oh, Mama, don’t worry, said E from the chair beside me. Looking down at the seat she pronounced, those are just narts.

“Narts?” I questioned dubiously.

Yes, those are certainly narts, said E. (I love when she uses the word ‘certainly.’)

“I don’t think I know about narts. What are they?”

They’re those, Mama! she said in her best of-course-you-do tone.

“Could you help me remember?”You know narts. They’re food but don’t eat them because they’re bad for you. They give you bellyaches. They’re not made, like Carler, but he’s nice so he’s not a nart. They’re skeletons of fish and they have no arms and they’re food but not for eating. They don’t smell nice and they make messes and now you have to clean them up. Those are narts and that’s why you don’t want to sit on them.

Luckily, now I know. And so you don’t get in trouble with the young authority in your life, now you know, too.
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Sunday, September 6, 2009

And now back to our regularly scheduled program

On Monday, E told me that Carler would be turning six today. This morning she told me he's turning 10. Luckily I had enough candles.

Carler is E's very best friend, I think, even though he's invisible. He's been in our family for over a year and so if she wants to make her dear friend a cake, why not? I wouldn't say no to that request to honor a flesh-and-blood friend. So we did what we love to do together anyway: we baked. And after her nap, we decorated. String licorice made a great hose. Pretzel sticks made a sturdy ladder. Oreos made tires. M&Ms made headlights and tail lights and jelly beans made the flashing lights on top. We melted white chocolate and let it dry in a sheet and cut our windows; a little black frosting added a nice touch of realism with some windshield wipers.

Carler's not really real, Mommy. I had never heard her admit that before and was thrown off. "It's okay, honey, you still love him, right?" Right. I mean, he IS real, I'm just PRETENDING he's not real. "That's okay, love. You can pretend. Let's get your daddy and sister so we can sing 'Happy Birthday.'"

And so we did.

September 6, 2009
Still life in honor of Carler and all friends near and far, visible and not. In honor of making wishes and refining dreams and in honor of childhoods filled with lots and lots of excuses for cake.

Portrait of the birthday boy.

Happy birthday, Carler. I've held you in my arms many times but never seen you. We speak almost daily but I've never heard you. You're my mystery child, the first-born son I would never otherwise have had. I don't entirely understand you, but I love you. Pin It

Monday, August 31, 2009

And many more

For the last episode in The Continuing Adventures of CarlerTM, go here.

Halfway through our car ride this morning E made an announcement.

Mama! I forgot to tell you! It's Carler's birthday this weekend! He's turning six. We need to have a party for him. Enchy and Creety and Creecraw are all coming. We need to bake a cake!

"We do?" I asked, amused. "Well, you can't have a birthday without a cake. What kind of cake does Carler want?"

His favorite color is red and he wants a cake with two kinds, a chocolate-and-vanilla cake, and it should look like a fire truck. Carler loves fire trucks.

(Coincidentally, I'm sure, yesterday I chauffeured E to a birthday party with a fire truck theme. The cake had a chocolate tier and a vanilla tier and looked like -- a fire truck. Just a coincidence, though.)

Halfway through the car ride home this afternoon E told me that she had invited more kids to Carler's party. Kralu and Krackalu and Kleeklee are coming, too! So it needs to be a big cake, okay?

I love baking with the girls so I agreed to this proposal when it was first raised this morning. But now the guest list is lengthening and poses a serious question:

how big does a fire truck cake need to be to feed four people who are made and a dozen who aren't made?

And perhaps a second one:

where do you draw the line between nurturing imagination and covering your kitchen in staintastic red food coloring?

I know it's a long weekend but if anybody will be in the area on Sunday and in the mood for dessert, give us a call. If you won't be around, don't worry - there will undoubtedly be pictures. Pin It

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Dinner prep

For the last episode in The Continuing Adventures of CarlerTM, go here.

There was a time, I think, when E was Carler's mommy. But now, it seems, Carler and E are siblings. Despite this, he has his own parents. I was amused to learn that as E's big brother, Carler's mommy is not me. This makes sense, though, to the degree that I don't remember giving birth before that morning E made her appearance in the world. So I asked E who Carler's parents are, and in case they'd be any good to me for social networking, what do they do.

Carler's mommy's name is Kenny and his daddy's name is Barnoo. Barnoo told Carler it's dinner time because Kenny was cooking all day. Barnoo's job is to get Carler to come eat. Kenny's job is the cooking, because she likes to cook. Kenny cooked scarabus for dinner because that's Carler's favorite.

"What does scarabus taste like?"

Shh!! I'll tell you. It tastes like apples. But you have to say that quietly because my sister L might want some if she hears that. And Kenny's food isn't really made of, so then L would cry when we don't give her any of Carler's yummy scarabus. Pin It

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The sickbed

For the origin of The Continuing Adventures of CarlerTM, go here.

E is recovered now from her fever, but her invisible big brother Carler has fallen ill. She was nurturing the hell out of him all day today. At bedtime she told me she had no hugs for me. She'd have to go to Giant (our grocery store) tomorrow and buy some more. She had to save all the ones she had for Carler.

Mama, I can't snuggle with you right now because Carler feels really, really icky. He was a pirate and he jumped off his pirate ship and he hurt his toe and then he got sick. I have a lot of work to do because after he got sick all his friends got sick, too, because they all jumped off too, because all of them are pirates, and that's why I'm snuggling all of them. Inchy and Binchy and Enny and Henny and Gobby are all here, Mama, and they're all sick. I just gave them their medicines and now I'm giving them pats. It's okay, Carler. It's okay, Inchy and Binchy. Come here, Enny and Henny, come closer. Gobby doesn't have blanket, Mama. Gobby doesn't have sheet, either. Mama, will you take me to Giant tomorrow? I need to buy more hugs and I think after all my kids are sick I also have to buy more medicines. Binchy's crying, Mama. I have to make him feel better. Good night, Mama. Pin It

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Carler is the ringleader of E's imaginary friends. But don't call him imaginary in front of her; she'll tell you that he's real, he's just not made.

Because I love the way her mind works, this is the first in an occasional series of Carler stories in which I will endeavor to recreate verbatim what E tells me about him, just as soon as I get to my laptop.

Mama, Carler is seven now. He had a birthday and he's in kindergarten. He lives in a bed that's on a boat that's on a car that's on the roof of SMA's house but he can't sleep there tonight because there's a bear at his house. So he's going to stay in my bed and have a sleepover and I'll keep him safe even though I'm not a mom. I'm going to snuggle him because Carler says he's afraid of bears and because I don't like to be alone so Carler will sleep here, on my shoulder. Carler says he likes my snowman sheets. Carler flies a airplane to school and he is going to fly his airplane onto the bear so he can sleep in his house again one day. Carler says you can go downstairs now, Mama. Goodnight, Mama. Pin It