In a small birthday gesture for himself, Baby Boy’s first tooth (bottom left) rose to salute him in celebration. Hooray, and happy (seven month) birthday!
My daughter, who switched into a single bed three nights ago to accommodate her near-crawling brother who can no longer safely sleep on our shared bed and needed the crib-turned-toddler-bed-turned-crib, is now huddled in the top right corner at the head of the bed, taking up approximately 1/6 of the mattress. No pillow, no stuffed animals, no sheet to cover her. God love her. I know I do.
So much can go right in a day: the sun shines through the blinds just so, entrancing Baby Boy. Leading with his head, he can finally (as of today!) roll himself from back to front. Hooray! (He can sit for a while, too, and laughed for the first time at his big sister two days ago.) Toddler Girl sits in her room, likewise entranced by a book of Baldo comics (why, exactly, I don’t know – but I don’t question things that she loves that are OK for her). The deer creep through the yard, eating things that aren’t my hostas. Butterflies – swallowtails, this year – flit and flutter about, a substitution for the flowers and things that aren’t growing this wet, wet summer.
But sometimes, so much can go wrong, even after so much goes right.
Like Saturday August 24th. We had a great day at the pool – and I do mean a great day, with friends and snacks and toys, going through the lazy river and feeling warm and happy and lazy ourselves. With Toddler Girl on Daddy’s shoulders and Baby Boy in the carrier in my hand, we were on our way out. The door nearly shut on another girl, and as he leaned forward to keep it open, she leaned back. And in a moment, you can imagine your whole, happy day – your whole, happy life – coming to an abrupt and sudden stop. Nothing would ever be the same.
He leaned forward more to slow her already-in-slow-motion-horror-movie-like fall, and it was as if she were trying to roll or cartwheel her way down, a circus in motion. But of course, she wasn’t. She was a three-year-old falling from a rather great height, and she landed on the pavement. We – we and our friends and our friends’ kids – froze.
Then, my girl cried. No quiet, no unconsciousness – just crying. I’ll leave out the fears and the worries, the guilt and the additional worries – but she was, by and large and to our immense relief – and “immense relief” does not do justice to our feelings – fine. A goose egg that was really more like a chicken egg rose on the left side of her forehead accompanied by a scrape that looked like a little bit of road rash. Forty-five minutes of crying. Questioning her about her name, waking her at night – even the doses of Tylenol (two) were minimal. Even now, she has what either looks like a very dark circle under that eye or a little bit of a black eye, but I don’t even think it would be noticeable to anyone other than us.
So much goes right, but it only takes one wrong thing to change everything.
And so we marvel and snuggle, kiss and stare, and feel an incredible sense of gratitude for these children of ours: for the little things, for the big things, for what is, for what could have been but wasn’t. For them.
Our trip to the library yesterday has replenished our stock - yes, we have lots (and I do mean LOTS!) of books at home, but new books are always welcome anyhow. Mrs. Katz and Tush, by Patricia Polacco, is one of them.
While I was preparing food for a new mama with Baby Boy asleep on my chest in the Ergo, Matthew read to Baby Girl. In the book, Larnel, an African-American boy, gets his neighbor Mrs. Katz, a childless, elderly Jewish immigrant from Poland, to take in a homeless kitten by agreeing to help her care for it. A friendship burgeons and blossoms, and Larnel learns how similar their pasts are, full of oppression but of love, too. It’s educational and informative but isn’t preachy. It’s touching without being maudlin, in spite of what could seem like a contrived relationship. For the record, it does not come off that way – it is as genuine and believable as any relationship one might have with a neighbor. (I had a neighbor Grandma Grace as a little girl…maybe some of you had someone, too?)
When her cat, Tush, about whom she often adds, “Such a person!” has kittens, she says she’s finally a bubee – a grandmother.
The story end in the way a story about a grandmother figure often does:
“As the years passed, Mrs. Katz, Tush, and her descendants became part of Larnel’s family.
There were graduations, weddings, new babies, and finally a kaddish.
Larnel stood in front of the headstone.
He read from her book.
He placed a small rock on top of her headstone.
Then he, his wife, and their children read the inscription together.
MRS. KATZ, OUR BUBEE…SUCH A PERSON.”
Matthew paused on many pages, as it’s the kind of book that gives you a bit of a punch in the gut. He didn’t read the final page aloud, either.
After this, Baby Girl needed to go potty. As she headed off, he told me how, when they went to Mrs. Katz’s husband’s grave, Baby Girl said, “We will die. But it will not be for a long time.” He then had me read the last page, which I hadn’t heard. We teared up over the nature of life, the nature of death – they’re sort of a package deal.
From the potty, we heard, “Daddy, I peed out! Daddy, my pee got on the floor!”
Thank God for children. They’ll have you crying in your soup one minute and laughing the next. Sometimes, you’re doing both. Just be sure the soup doesn’t come out of your nose.
Polacco, Patricia. Mrs. Katz and Tush. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
We survived an unexpected doctor’s visit yesterday (Baby Boy was beside himself, crying and screaming and inconsolable, for hours – nothing was apparently wrong besides being extra tired, and today has been a far better day), and today, we had a lovely trip to the swimming pool. Sister LOVES to swim, with floaties, and Brother has the crazy little-babies-kick-in-the-water thing going on. It’s some instinct, I tell you – I’d both love to and be terrified to let him try to swim in the water. We ate ice cream and hot dogs and Baby Boy smiled a lot. Baby Girl was enormously happy herself. She cracked us up on the car ride home, at one point, repeatedly saying, “Hola,” like “Diego’s daddy said.” With each syllable overemphasized and repeated until the sounds lost nearly all meaning, we laughed. Undeterred, she said, “I’m teaching you!” to her daddy until he repeated the sounds back to her. “That’s Spanish talk!” Ah, that girl.
And then, getting ready for bed tonight, we had a super sweet moment. “I love you!” I said to Baby Girl.
“I really, really love you a lot,” she said, and my heart swelled and pounded and did a flip or two (I guess it was at the pool on the diving board).
Then, apropos of what I don’t remember, I said to Baby Girl, “I’ve seen you every day of your life!” I’ve slept away from her once, for one night – when Baby Boy was born – but I still saw her each day.
“No,” she said, with certainty.
“Yes, I have!” On this one, I felt sure. The furthest away I’ve ever been, drive-time-wise even, was an hour and a half, and that’s just been once, and just last month. I’ve been with my girl a lot.
“No,” she went on, “we will die. At the end, we will die.”
Oh. Yes, I’ve seen her every day of her life, and while at some point that will cease to be true because of sleepovers and trips and college, at some other point, that will cease to be true because I (please, let it be me before her) have ceased to be.
Today we returned home from a week at the beach, and today, Baby Boy is 17 weeks old.
And today, he learned some new tricks. While holding onto my fingers, he pulled himself from sitting to standing, using his own strength and not my lifting. He’s learning the Happy Baby pose in yoga – he started grabbing his own toes! And, in that same vein, he began grabbing other objects, too – books, stuffed animals, what have you. Before, he’d just look with interest while apparently thinking, “It’s a shame that there’s no way for me to touch this interesting toy held only inches from my face.” Ah, little one, but there is! And now, he can, and he does, and he will continue to do so.
And just like that, much more of life is within his reach.
Sometimes life is funny, like when baby boy poops explosively, just when I thought I was going back to sleep. Comic timing, that one. He got some on the sheets, just for good measure. Or when baby girl talks about her alter-ego (not imaginary friend), I – and we are a part of her imaginary world with alternate names, too. (I am Computer, and her brother is Rice. Nice, solid name choices.) Sometimes life is a heart-wrenching (at least to me), like when baby girl was so excited to share particularly delicious mango with her daddy, who just happened to be in another room changing baby boy’s diaper. In her joy, carrying the bowl of mango to him, she tripped, and the dish, spoon, and mango all rocketed out of her hands. “I didn’t mean for that to happen!” she sobbed, as battlefield mango littered the area around her feet, never to reach its intended target. Or two nights ago, after having watched Dumbo in the afternoon, I was putting my girl to sleep. All on her own, she brought up the movie. “Dumbo’s mama picked him up in her trunk and rocked him to sleep. Why not did he go to sleep?” That part gets me every time, Dumbo cradled in his mother’s trunk. Sometimes life is surprising, like when baby boy’s diaper was dry from about 9 p.m. Saturday night until sometime after 4:30 in the morning. Sure, we changed his diaper two or three times in the interim – it’s just that he waited until then to pee, then we put his same diaper back on him. Wow!
What? You didn’t find this all riveting or worthy of a hearty chuckle? Oh. You’re right. If this were a sitcom, there’d be a lot more funny – I’d probably be fired as a writer. The beauty of a blog, though, is that you can’t be fired. So my reruns won’t be anywhere: that’s OK. With a three-year-old and a nearly three-month-old, I know there are lots more episodes to come (and some of them won’t involve tantrums). And if things don’t seem funny, well, maybe I’ll just add a laugh track.
R, l, v, f – lots of letters have to wait in line to slowly become a proper part of her pronunciation. Others get in right away, like “m” and “d”; no waiting there. They walk right up and – bam! – they’re in the door. They get their popcorn and are in their seats before the “s” knew what was going on, before he realized he didn’t have an advance pass and had to wait to see if there was any room left in the theater. Of course there will be, but the wait could take a while.
Other words have queued up, too. They’re waiting, and the paparazzi flutter around. I mean, these words are worth checking out. They’re very of-the-moment, and once they make their way in, they will be changed. If you aren’t careful, you’ll miss them. Penguin is dressed in its alternate guise, PWENG*in. Pwengin’s eating a PREN*sull, which some might call (mistakenly) a pretzel. Another’s dressed in AHN*jin, better known to some as orange. She taps her foot, waits by the door.
This weekend, the door opened, and she was the next to go. In she went, with a rustle and a flash. AHN*jin was gone.
Orange came out. Good-bye, AHN*jin. Your charms were many, and if you decide to make another appearance, we’d be glad to see you again.
Today, Baby Boy is two months old (and a sweet charmer). As with big sister at this age, we’ve read several books: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (also Baby Girl’s first book, as charming on this read-through as the previous), Here’s a Penny by Carolyn Haywood (a sweet nod to adoption – who knew?), and Soup and Me by Robert Newton Peck (two boys who bring trouble and sometimes surprising sweetness to their small world in rural Vermont). He also got the better part of The Cat Who Wished to Be a Man by Lloyd Alexander (brief but entertaining in the ways the cat misinterprets human interaction, once he becomes a man).
The book count will only increase. It seems like that’s what happened with our number of children, too: we count them, and we know there are only two. However, having a second child seems to have added, oh, an extra two or three children. How can one plus one equal three or four? Come to our house. We’ll show you. If only I had an extra arm to hold both (“two arms!” my daughter protests) or to hold one and still cook dinner (sometimes, the sling or Ergo is highly protested…most likely at an inconvenient time)!
Number of books read to baby and number of children, both increasing. Who knows how many we’ll have by the time he’s four months old? We may just need a new house to fit them all.
Today, baby boy is seven weeks and one day old.
And he smiled.
Not a smile in his sleep as he dreamed of being offered a bounty of breast milk, not a smile because he’d created a gift for us in his diaper – an original piece of abstract art – but a smile. A real smile. Our communal glow must have lit up the living room, we were so happy and charmed. And there was cooing. Cooing!
Matthew and I, we’re in love. Of course with each other, naturally with baby girl, and now with baby boy. There’s a lot of love – and now there are smiles, too.