31.3.08

Perfect Posts

Perfect Post Award 03.08

Well it's the end of the month, which means that it's time to tell you my favorite post of the month. I read Woulda Shoulda Coulda just about every day. Mir writes really well. She shares items from every day and makes them wonderfully entertaining to read, and she seems like a smart capable woman and a pretty great mom too. Well, sometimes she out does herself, as in this little missive directed toward her children. We all have those thankless days, but mir makes them funny.

Here's a taste.

It is with a heavy heart and much regret that I feel the need to inform you of my decision to tender my resignation as Greatest Mother In The World...
I do thank you for the chance to be something more, but now that I’ve realized exactly how thankless this position really is, I’m afraid I am simply going to have to suggest that you get your own damn breakfast in the future.


So enjoy Picture it on pink paper.

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I was trying to decide between mir's post and this one by MaryP. I big puffy pink heart love this post, so much so that I have printed it out and put it on my fridge. Unfortunately she wrote it the last day of February and the instructions for the awards say, and I quote, "Choose your favorite post from the month of March." See how march is in bold type like that? I for one am very intimidated by bold type instructions. So that made my decision easy. But... it's an excellent post and if you are raising children you ought to read it. No really. It gives me hope.

Here's a teaser.

Now, self-discipline is in some disrepute in this largely adolescent culture of ours. It’s associated with being a boring, dull nay-sayer. Who wants dreary, dull, no-no-no self-discipline?

People who know it’s self-discipline which separates the people who consistently wonder “why do these things keep happening to meeee?” from those who feel largely in control of their life, that’s who.

We are notoriously poor at teaching self-discipline to our children. We tend to see it as the grinding down of a child’s spirit, the steady encroachment on their personality, the ceaseless winnowing away of who they are into who they should be. It is not.

Read the rest here.

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And last but certainly not least, I fully planned to submit this post for a perfect post award last month. But the end of the month crept up on me way to fast and I missed the deadline. I want to re read this post by Rae, the beautiful Journey Mama, over and over again. It is breathtaking just in the sheer scope of her magnanimity.

Here is the beginning.

To the people who have shared air with me, laughed, cried, been friends, been family, been iron against my iron. To the ones I’ve hurt, to the ones who have hurt me, to the ones who have given and given, to those who were enemies, to those who cut deeply, to those who offered their cupped hands filled with water, to those who gave sustenance, I want to tell you this:
Don't do anything else today until you read the rest. Trust me, you will be blessed.

THings I did this week instead of writing blog posts

Took two latch key kids under my wing for a while since they were on spring break and their mom works 12 hour evening shifts. I figure it's probably hard on a 13 year old girl having to make dinner and get your 6 year old brother to bed every single night all by yourself. So they've been tagging along with us as we go to the library, farmer's market, pool, and for dinner most of the week. This trend will probably continue as they are sweet and lonely kids and and I am trying to do the thing in front of me that I see needs doing instead of pining away for some grand world changing scheme that will do things on a large scale. The little boy is also quite obese and shy and, oh my heart breaks for him, he's so sweet and timid. I'll never forget his face as we stepped off the elevator into the children's part of the library and he saw a whole floor of kids books. He had never been to the public library before. He was awestruck.

The Boy asked me a few nights ago why his friend was fat. His friend had said earlier that night, "I used to be skinny, but now I'm fat." So we talked about nutrition and exercise, and sneaking candy, which they both do, and the Boy was very serious and thought he should help his friend by telling him that he was fat and shouldn't eat so much. I finally was able to make him see that it would be more helpful to just be his friend, and play with him. Because he stays inside all day because he can't find people to play with.

His older sister is sweet too and lost in her own way, as kids who have been displaced and through a few broken marriages can be. She's teetering on the edge of womanhood, and carries a lot of weight on her very young shoulders.

Anyway, besides them,

I have taken kids swimming 3-4 times.

I have baked 4 loaves of bread, one cheesecake, 42 homemade chocolates, homemade hummus, and carved a watermelon to be a special fruit salad bowl for the GH's grandparent's 60 anniversary party. The Boy things I'm a really great mama because I can carve 60 into the side of a hollowed out watermelon. (My mom would be so proud.)

I've attended many family functions.

I have eaten too many cookies.

I have done laundry, a lot of laundry.

I have made the GH lunch every single night.

I have spent at least two evenings hanging with him instead of my computer.

I have made muesli, and yogurt.

I have cleaned the kitchen.

I have planted daisies with the Girl.

I have danced at horsey dance parties, DJed by the demo track on the kid's synthesizer.

I have stood outside at the park and talked to neighbors while our kids run around in circles.

I think I've made a new friend.

I've helped the GH with important paper work.

I've convinced the new manager at our leasing office that she really does want to pay for our carpets to be cleaned since we are renewing our lease AGAIN, and it's been more than a year and a half since they've been cleaned.

I wish I could say I've gotten more sleep but that's not true. The Baby is teething.

All this time I've been writing in my head. Much of what I write in my head never makes it from there to anymore permanent medium, I rarely have the time to record even the seeds of ideas. But I feel I am about to explode with words that I want to write.

Almost all of this list is good, better even than this little blog of mine. But I have missed it so the past several days. Hopefully I will find a way to squeeze out a few more minutes in the coming week.

25.3.08

I bet you wish your screen saver was this exciting

Just some general silliness, from my house to yours.

And now I see that it's on it's side because I can't figure out how to hold a camera apparently, and when I flip it in picture project it doesn't stay flipped when I upload it. Oh well, it's still silly.



I bet you wish your screen saver was this exciting. from Carrien Leith on Vimeo.

And if you made it all the way to the end, um wow, the GH is saying retarded in reference to a picture of a dalmatian, I think, some breed of dog that's not very well known for intelligence, so no one get offended okay? Unless you're a dalmation, in which case I sincerely apologize for the way my husband grouped all of you inbred spotted dogs into one sweeping generalization that you may find personally insulting.

21.3.08

Moments-18

The Baby is suddenly afraid of the vacuum cleaner. (Well, I haven't used it in a while, it's been broken and I've been sweeping the rugs but... her reaction to a working vacuum seems sudden to me nonetheless.) She is absolutely terrified. She presses herself up against a wall, she crawls under the table to get away from it, she cries and screams from the moment I turn it on until well after I turn it off. Obviously, this does not bode well for the carpet, or the Baby, both of which/whom need attention from time to time. And she wakes up if I try to vacuum while she sleeps.

It is one of those moments where, scream as she might, I just have to get it done and so I steel my self and turn the thing on. The baby runs to the door and presses herself against it. The Girl runs to her side and puts her arms around her cooing, "It's okay Baby, it's all right, don't be scared."

I glance up from time to time as I suck the dirt out of the edges of the living room and the girl remains firmly by the Baby's side, arm around her, patting her reassuringly as she continues to cry, although somewhat less frantically. At one point I happen to look up, just in time to see her as, face furrowed with maternal solicitude, she gently brushes her fingers across the Baby's forehead and tucks her barely long enough hair behind her ears and then cups her cheek softly while wiping a tear away with her thumb. It is an achingly familiar gesture. My mother always did that when I was crying, and I always do it for the Girl. It is unconscious most of the time. I'm only barely aware that I do it. But now, as I watch my little girl comfort her little sister in the same way I comfort her, that my mother comforted me, and who knows how many women before her did the exact same thing, my heart swells a little and my throat gets tight as I smile at this womanchild who is growing so compassionate.

************

Two weeks ago during our Shabbat meal, the GH while saying the blessings over our kids told the Girl, "I bless you to be as pretty on the inside as you are on the outside."

Over the course of the week we talked a few times, she and I, about what that means. We talked about how if your heart is ugly, ugly words and mean things will come out of your mouth and body. And we talked about how a beautiful heart is full of joy, and cheer, and kindness, and generosity. It isn't lazy, or bossy, or selfish.

Last Friday, as we drove to Beema's house before sunset to keep Shabbat once more I turned to her in the car, and, overwhelmed with her cuteness, which just seems to increase every day I asked, "Could you be any more pretty than you are right now?"

"Yes," she said, in her silly play voice, "I could be pretty on the inside."

Sometimes I just want to eat her up she's so adorable.

*********

Update on the last post.

Thanks for your encouraging comments. The last two night since then he has woken himself up and he has been dry all night. Sometimes I lose perspective here under my mountain of laundry. But in about 3-4 weeks he's had 14 dry nights which is more than he's had in his entire life up till now, so the experiment must be working.

We're trying a number of things. I've moved him back into our room where there is more going on at night to bring him out of deep sleep on occasion. I'm writing down when he's wet and when he wakes up on his own and we've narrowed down two times of night that he is able to wake up and usually stays dry up until that point and if we wake him he'll stay dry the rest of the night. He's started waking himself at those times. And we're putting him to bed a full hour earlier than before. If he goes to bed too late all bets are off and he is usually wet several times because he's so tired.

And there's this

Dry All Night: The Picture Book Technique That Stops Bedwetting
I just ordered this fabulous book at Amazon for only $16 used. (Note the new price tag.) We read it tonight. It gives me such hope. and they really liked it so we'll see if it helps at all. I thought the girl who cried and cried and cried when she woke up wet was a tad too melodramatic for such a book but then, I'm given to fits of melodrama myself over this thing so I suppose it's all right.

Hope that helps Jessie, and anyone else who like me has spent countless nights googling bed wetting and come up empty so far.

18.3.08

Moments-17

He has a sleep disorder. He sleeps too deeply, for too long. His bladder lets go when he is in these deep sleeps if they last to long. He never dreams. It's exhausting sometimes, dealing with the laundry, and waking him in the night. It's discouraging to go through the same thing night after night. It's discouraging to look for help and find it very expensive or not very helpful at all. I just want someone to tell me what to do for this child, how to help him. No one does. The experts want to be paid first, but we don't have that kind of money. I am feeling my way in the dark, trying to find the path on my own. I want to cry some days. I know more about sleep cycles than I ever thought necessary. My own home has become a lab, a place to experiment with what works, what doesn't. I am the sleep deprived lab tech over seeing the project. I want to sleep. I want him to wake up.

Tonight I kneel at his bedside to check on him. He's still dry. I try to wake him to get him to the bathroom. He will not wake. I know now not to force it if he won't wake right away. He doesn't remember it in the morning. He will sleep walk, and I will teach him to pee in his sleep that way. I shake him, I tickle, I sit him up in bed. He stays asleep. And then, from his sitting position he leans his head against my chest, and curls his body into my lap, head resting on my arm.

For a moment I pretend that he is my baby again as I kiss his forehead and smell his hair. I cradle him as though he is a newborn and rock this boy of mine who is shooting his way toward manhood. For just a minute I let myself just hold him, like I did when he was a baby, and let him sleep against my chest once more. I remember what it was like to have all the answers, to be able to give him everything he needed.

And then I lay him back down on his pillow and walk out to record the time, wiping tears out of the way as I write.

17.3.08

Moments-16

She heads for the play equipment. She will not be deterred. She wants to slide. She will slide. If any one tries to stop her she will screech and cry in hot displeasure. She climbs the stairs. She gets to the top of the baby slide. It's short and curved and slow. It's a safe slide for a baby to play on as she learns the physics of sliding. Today she doesn't even glance at it. She keeps climbing stairs. One foot... two feet... She stands at the summit, smiling down at the world around her as she surveys it from her new vantage point at the top of the BIG SLIDE. Slowly she slides a tiny foot toward the edge. She slides it back. She plants her feet and squats and stands, yelling with excitement. She edges one foot forward again, and then back. Again she squats. She kneels and turns her backside to the top of the slide and dangles one foot over the edge, and then retreats to a sitting position a safe few inches away from the edge. She is grinning with pleasure at her new found perch. She is yelling excitedly to the big kids all around her. She is not ready to go down the BIG SLIDE just yet.

Moments later her big brother appears behind her. He talks to her and they laugh together and then he gathers her in his arms, places her in front of him between his legs and they swoosh down the slide together. Her face is alight as she searches for me, making sure that I see her as she takes her maiden voyage.

The next hour is happily spent tottering her way up the steps and waiting as big brother and big sister meet her at the top and place her in their laps for the ride down. Every single time her face lights up, she smiles, her mouth wide open with delight, and she turns her head to face me, to watch me watching her as she enjoys her descent.

12.3.08

To the man with a white beard and a lead foot in the old station wagon,

Hi, I'm the crazy woman who kicked your car. I'm sure you found out by now that I didn't dent it. I aimed my kick at the guard panels on the side. You see, my hands were somewhat busy maneuvering a double stroller containing both of my daughters. The Baby, she's one, and the Girl? is 4. If my hands were free I would have used them to bang on your windows and yell instead, but I only had a foot to spare.

You were really shocked when you heard the loud thump coming from your passenger side. Your wife looked downright terrified. Because I and my three children coming home from the library look like such thugs. I guess you didn't see me standing there when you came barreling out of the Chili's/Olive Garden parking lot. Of course, the stop line is about 5 feet behind where the nose of your car first came to a stop, so I guess you didn't see that either. You also apparently failed to notice that you almost ran us over. You may still be unaware of that fact. It's a good thing I have quick reflexes, and I approach the entry of that drive with caution. Because if I had been going any faster, and not paying attention as you were not, I don't think I would have been able to pull my two little girls out of the way of your car in time.

I'm used to stupid drivers. I'm used to people not paying attention. I have stood before and watched as a preoccupied driver stares to their left, waiting for a break in traffic and a chance to turn, completely oblivious to my presence on the sidewalk. I wait for it. I wait for the moment, just before they turn right when they look to their right and back to their left before moving forward, and then watch the visible shock on their face as they see me, and my children for the first time as we don't cross because they aren't looking, and slam on the brakes. They are usually startled, they mouth, so sorry, through the glass their faces show their regret, and as I cross I hope that next time they'll be more careful.

Once in high school I was hit by a woman in a car as I was crossing the street on a green light. Just like you she was staring to her left into oncoming traffic, and she didn't know I was there until her bumper hit my leg as she was pulling out. She at least stopped and helped me up off of the ground, crying and apologizing. I have never since then crossed the street in front of a car with a right turn signal on without first making eye contact with the driver.

So after I pulled my kids out of harms way and yelled, I waited for you to turn and see me. I even yelled hey and waved my arms a little. I was willing to forgive you even then because I was sure that you would feel bad once you noticed what you had almost done. And while I was angry, no one was hurt. So I waited. You stared left. I waited a little longer. You stared left. There was no way I was going try to cross the street now without making sure that you had seen me. And so I waited some more. It's a busy street. At least three minutes went by, maybe five. I was getting angrier. Not only had you already just about run into us. You still didn't know that we were there. I began to suspect that you were drunk.

Finally, I wheeled my stroller around so that my foot could reach your car and I kicked it. I wanted to kick it a few more times and do some damage I'll admit, but I settled for one kick that would get your attention. Finally you looked up, puzzled and bewildered. And then I crossed in front of your car as you stared at me now quite angry yourself as you figured out what I had done. I wanted you to roll down your window and ask me why I just did that. I wanted to tell you off for being so reckless and careless with the lives of my kids. But instead we just glared at each other until I got to the other side.

For the first time in ages I wished I had a cell phone so that I could call 911 and give them your plate number and location so they could check your sobriety. Even if you were sober, I think I would have enjoyed the sight of you as the police pulled you over and made you blow into a breathalyzer.

I wish I could have thought of something to do that would have been more constructive, and changed that way you drive. But I couldn't. I hope you made it home without killing anyone.

From,
The enraged mother who kicked your car.


**********

Sorry if you were here for more moments. I had to clear the pipes.

10.3.08

On Music

Our local library has free concerts every month by local artists. We go, and take all of the kids. It's free, so no one can get too annoyed when they are children, and occasionally disruptive, and it's free, so we can afford to take them. Where else will they learn how to behave at a concert than... at a concert? I really want my kids to experience live music as I did when I was growing up. There is something about seeing how those sounds are made that changes one's perspective about it.

I'm fascinated by how technology has changed the way we perceive music. One hundred years ago all music was live. If music was wanted in the private home, someone who lived there needed to become a musician. Instruments were played, songs were sung, music was a communal experience. If people wanted to hear an orchestra, they had to go to a concert hall, to rub shoulders with other people in their community, to see the people who worked hard to perfect their art. Dancing required musicians. More than one part required relationship with other people. Singing in church would sound so different and inspire reverence because of the unique, to them, experience of standing within the sound of many voices uplifted together. The music would swell all around and pass through you and it's source would be your family, your friends, your neighbors, and sometimes your enemies.

How strange then that in the space of 100 years people use music to shut themselves away. Teenagers lock themselves in their room to listen to "their" music. People put their earphones in and retreat aurally from the world around them through the music of their choice. Something that was once so wonderfully communal is now a tool of isolation. But what I find most intriguing is that we all live with a sound track. We go to the store, we hear music piped in, music in elevators, music in cars, music in coffee shops as a back ground to the many conversations, music in movies, and music wherever we want it thanks to portable listening devices. We don't hear the sound of silence all that often any more. And we tend to take music for granted. Does anyone ever really listen any more?

A concert, especially a classical concert, is one of the few places where one must listen, where everyone is silent, where experiencing the music is the focus, where talking over top of it is not allowed. So I take my kids to concerts. We go early so they can get used to the place, so that they can choose seats and wiggle a little, so that they can look at the instruments and get their questions out before the playing starts.

This week it was a piano quartet playing Beethoven, and then Brahms. A very good quartet in my opinion. I think my favorite moment is the few seconds at the beginning of a piece. After the talking is over the musicians settle their bodies and their instruments, an expectant hush grows over the audience and then there is a breath, a nod, an upraised wrist and sound, rich vibrant skillfully blended notes are pulled from wood and wire as if by magic. The Baby is always awed by this. We sit at the back and she alone is unaware of the hush at the beginning, until it is broken by sound and she becomes still, and pulls her body as tall as she is able as she searches for the source of the magic. This week the GH lifted her by her legs so she could see and she stretched out as tall as she could staring towards the musicians.

This week she also started singing along, something she's begun to do recently. I love her singing. She actually pulls notes out of her little throat, not just vocalizations, most often singing a descending 4th, in case you wanted to know. And then we run into one of the problems with live music, at least, live chamber music. Singing along with the musicians by the audience is not encouraged. In fact it is frowned upon. One shouldn't add notes to Beethoven. So one of us usually takes her out of the room and she toddles around in the hallway, or we go all the way to the children's section of the library. One day I will sit all the way through a piece of music again, and listen with my brain and my heart, but not yet. In the meantime, my children are and I love to see it.

The Boy listens, really listens. He hums the themes on the way home. He asks thoughtful questions. The Girl is perhaps more glad of the time sitting next to a parent who is doing nothing for the moment except for hugging her and listening. But she's the least musical of the three, and in time she may come to care about the music itself as well. If she were allowed to dance however, that would be another story. She loves to dance.

I hope by taking them to hear live music that they become more aware of what they hear. Just like I want them to be aware when they look, when they move. I don't want them to take beauty for granted. I am the mom who stops to listen to street performers, who has let my children stand and stare at the man playing the violin at the train station. Literally. Too bad for us it wasn't Joshua Bell (See Pearls Before Breakfast) but the musicians we do stop to listen to are playing their best too. One thing I am sure of. If Joshua Bell had been busking 100 years ago, in the same spot, I think he'd have drawn a crowd. I don't think his music would have been taken for granted the same way it was during the Washington Post experiment. IS it possible to have too much beauty? Does too much make us jaded?

The one thing that I find heartbreaking about that article is this quote.
Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.
I don't want to be that parent. I know we all are sometimes, we have to be to keep life moving, but I hope, I want, to be the kind of parent who leaves room for wonder, who allows beauty and creativity in all it's inconvenient messy glory.

6.3.08

Moments-15

Well, our internet was down for a day and a half, so brace yourself. I have much to write.

We make our weekly pilgrimage to the library, that hallowed hall of all things free, and a place to get new stuff to read. The Boy rides ahead on his scooter. Often in the past he has drifted out of site, waited at the corner, but behind a hedge, and he has lost scooter privileges because of it. I have lost count of the number of times I say, "If you look back and can't see me, it means I can't see you, and you are too far ahead. It's your job to make sure you can always see me, or you don't get to ride your scooter when we go on walks."

Today he stops at every corner. Today he turns and waves at me every single time he stops, and does so until I wave back and smile. Today he tells me over and over, "I was checking to make sure that you could still see me mom. Did I do a good job?"

Once, he rounds a corner just ahead of me and drops out of site for a second. As I pass the offending hedge I see him perched on one knee on the sidewalk, his chin rests on the other, and he is gazing at an invisible spot on the ground. "Look mom, look at this nice flower."

He points at a dandelion nestled into the thick grass. "O wow, there's another one, and another. I'm going to pick some for you. Do you like these kinds of flowers?"

He gathers flowers, one for me, and one for each of his sisters, and one for himself.

***********

The Baby has tiny little hair clips. She wants to be just like her older sister. I watch her as over and over again she presses her tiny clip against her head. Each time it sticks for a second she shakes her head, feeling against her scalp, until it falls off. Finally I take the clip from her, open it up, and stick it in her hair. She spends the next ten minutes feeling it with her fingers as she excitedly exclaims, "SSSsss,tttt, ahhhh, bbbpppp."

**********

I hear screams coming from the bedroom. "Aaahh, stop it Baby. Give it back!"

I round the corner to see the Baby, crayon firmly grasped in one hand, toy in the other, motoring her way out of the room with a busy little smile and her characteristic head nod going, humming, "Ahbahbahbahbahbahbahbah" to herself as she makes her escape. The Girl catches up to her and yanks the crayon away and returns to her post and the Baby bursts into an angry scream and runs to me for comfort. I hide my laugh in her soft hair as I hold her and listen to her indignant cries before we go in and make peace.

**********

I am brushing the Girl's teeth. I have just moved the Baby off of the stool to make room for my latest victim, er, child. The girl is screaming that she is cold because I told her to get off of the couch where she was falling asleep in order to brush her teeth before bed. On the bathroom floor the Baby keeps screaming. She looks up at me, very angrily, and then bends her whole body forward as she screams with all the ferocity her 14 months can muster. She is trying to rip me a new one, in baby talk. The Girl continues to whimper about the terribly unjust way in which I am requiring her to stand still long enough for ME to brush HER teeth. My ears are bleeding from the noise. But she looks so funny as she crouches in the corner there, screaming her fury over and over again. I find myself laughing at her, at both of them, as I send the Girl off to bed, where she screams that she is cold but won't put her blankets on because she wants me to do it, and the Baby, whose screams subside the instant I scoop her up again.

*********

During school today, we continue our study of 2 syllable words. The Boy is required to compile a short list of compound words, words with endings, and words that have a syllable break between two consonants. It takes him a long time, because he is goofing off. When we reach the part of the lesson where I introduce him to Haiku format for the first time and show him a sample haiku, he reads it and skips off, convinced that he is finished school. I call him back. "Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait buddy, you aren't done. This is just the example, you're supposed to write one of your own."

The wailing begins. "I don't want to."

He adds some sobs, "But I don't want to."

"Tough, you don't get to play until you do it." I am very sympathetic, you may have noticed.

What follows is half an hour of complaining and general whining and more time wasting. Eventually I get tired of this never ending litany and start clapping my hands. "I don't want to. Nope, that's only 4 syllables. You need 5 syllables for you first line. How can you say I don't want to in 5 syllables."

He suppresses a smile and stares at me sideways, not quite certain whether or not he is being mocked. He is. But I'm keeping my voice level, and my face straight, and I'm trying to make fun of him in a constructive manner. "Seriously Boy, it doesn't matter what you write about as long as you follow the rules. You can write about how unfair you think I'm being if you want, just write something."

There is a bit more struggling and I have to give him a time limit, but I can see that the major battle has passed. Eventually he finishes his assignment and then takes off outside.

And so, I share with the world my eldest son's first ever poetic effort, his first haiku. I am so proud.

I do not like school
I do not like my teacher
I don't think she's smart

Doesn't that just warm the cockles of your heart?

4.3.08

Moments-14

He wants cheese toast for dinner.

My plan was baked potatoes and beans and cheese, but he wants cheese toast. We are talking around in circles as he keeps telling me what he wants and I keep telling him why I don't think it's a very good meal and the Girl is cranky and yelling over imagined insults in a bossy little voice would make anyone, let alone a 6 year old boy, find it hard not to smack her after a while. Everything is his fault it seems, and she will not stop shrieking at him. And he will not stop teasing her. I am trying to motivate them to return the living room to some kind of order, the Baby does not want to be put down, and over it all the hungry Boy keeps whining, "I want cheese toast."

I send the Girl to bed. If she's too tired and sick to help clean up she's too tired and sick to be out here making the rest of us miserable as well. She lays herself down in bed and falls asleep. The Baby joins her shortly thereafter and suddenly it is just me and him and dinner to get ready. He lets me talk him into accepting my dinner plan, and I change it a little just to suit him. I work on dinner and ask him if he would help me unload the dishwasher. He is happy to help and the two of us move around each other in the kitchen. He says excuse me when he needs to put something away and I am in the way, and I say excuse me to him when I need to get something out. He sets the table without my asking. He organizes all of the dishes as he removes them, stacking them on counters and waiting until they are all in the same place before climbing atop a stool and putting them away in the cupboard. I still marvel at how grown up he seems. Six is so mature compared to five.

We talk about the little inconsequential things that made up our day. And we sit down to eat together. Just the two of us. My long limbed, knobby kneed, skinny little boy, with a new gap in his smile, and me, sit and eat our meal together, smiling at each other the whole time.

Just once he leans in toward me and lays his head against my shoulder. "I love you mom," he says as he smiles up at me. I put my arm around his shoulder and draw him closer, holding him for a second longer as he is ready to pull away and sit up again. "I love you too."

And then I lean down and kiss his forehead, right at the hair line, before finally letting go. He doesn't protest.

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