Last night, we were reading Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy (charming and totally worth a read!), and Tacy’s little sister Bee dies. She shut the book then, and we called it a night. To be fair, it might also be because I got teary, and she doesn’t like to see that, but how could I not? Reading to my small child, and a small child dies? *sigh* So much for emotional control.
This morning, she asked, “Why did Boo Boo die?” (The Boo Boo interest was renewed when a stray cat recently wandered through the backyard, and she said, “Maybe it’s Boo Boo!” We had to remind her that Boo Boo died, and the stray cat did not appear to be her reincarnation.)
“Sometimes, people and animals get sick, and they die,” I told her. I feel like this is slippery territory for a not-quite-three year old: she recently had a cold and has another small one. I don’t want her to think she’s about to die every time she gets a sniffle. “But usually, people are old before they die. Children don’t usually die.”
“I won’t die,” she told me, with all the certainty of a two-year-old.
“Everyone dies sometime.”
“I’ll die and you’ll die and Daddy will die,” she then acknowledged, just as breezily.
Somehow, I don’t know which set of statements was worse. We should go eat breakfast now; too much truth on an empty stomach can make you sick.
DOCTOR’S APPOINTMENT YESTERDAY
Yesterday, the last day of week 32, we had a doctor’s appointment. We’re down to every two weeks. How did that happen?
The riveting details of our visit: My weight: 169. My blood pressure: 118/64. The baby’s heartbeat: 123. Helpful responses to the question, “Do you know of local doulas?”: 0.
Ah, well. I’m working on getting other people’s answers to that one for when Baby Baby makes an appearance.
BABY BABY IS NEVER FAR FROM OUR MINDS
“You’re my favorite mama,” my sweet daughter told me tonight as she was heading towards sleep. “You’re my favorite girl and my favorite daughter,” I told her in response. “And Baby Baby is your favorite baby!” she added. “Yes,” I told her. “I love you both very much.”
“We all love Baby Baby very much,” she said.
Our daughter has a perfectly lovely name, balancing family ties with a pretty sound. We opt for a nickname, though – a two part nickname, with one taken from her first name and one taken from her middle name. Sometimes, people ignore the second word, just calling her by her first name’s nickname, just as people often turn my husband, Matthew, into Matt.
But one of her little friends takes it a step further.
The world has to smile when a cherubic, towheaded child greets his friend with an enthusiastic grin and a wave and says, “Hi, Louie!” Even if it were nothing like her name, she’d have to smile and wave back. But it is, just enough.
And that’s how Johnny greeted her this morning at Itsy Bitsy Yoga. Ten months younger than her to the day, he is always there, as his mother teaches the class. In talking about him over dinner tonight, my daughter earnestly explained to her daddy, “He calls me Louie. It’s my knickknackname.” We’d talked about nicknames in the car, and how, by calling her that, he’s given her a nickname.
Or, better yet, a knickknackname. How could we correct her? She’s nicknamed the word “nickname”!
I think she’s got the concept down.
“I’m little and big,” she’ll often explain to us now, after our conversation weeks ago when we explained how, compared to Baby Baby, she’s big, but compared to us, she’s little.
And she is. Little and big.
Tonight, she came up with a line all her own as we drove in the car to a potluck at a friend’s house, far out in the country over bumpy roads, past dogs wandering unchecked, past tumble-down houses and dark patches of road.
“I will not be little again.”
It made me want to stop the car and hug her and keep her little – not little and big, just little – as long as my arms can wrap around her. Instead, we kept on driving, through small towns and past small-town churches and dilapidated buildings, driving in the dark, together.
Let me tell you, sweet daughter, that I’m writing this out of admiration for your creativity and the way you work to make sense of your world – even though, as a teenager, this may well be the kind of thing that makes you wish your mother had never, ever written about you. I love you very much.
After a poor night’s sleep (you woke up at least three times and, as often seems to happen now, when I got out of bed to go to the bathroom without you [ah, pregnancy!], you cried and screamed and ran after me, which poses dangers in the dark), we concluded that it may have been because your stomach was bothering you: what filled your potty today was more liquid than solid. When we went to play today, you told me you had to pee, but that wasn’t quite what came out, either. Tonight, as you were going to sleep, you put it best: you had a pee toot.
And really, I think you summed it up perfectly.
The verses between tonight’s “Mama!” and “Baby!” call-and-response chorus:
“Why don’t I have my pillow?” (“Because it’s dirty.”) “Why is it dirty? Because it was on the floor? Why was it on the floor?” (“I don’t know.”) “[Not-so-little boy ] was trying to hit with it.”‘ (“That wasn’t very nice.”) “No. Then he put it on the floor.”
“I’m sorry that you has [hazh] a cold, Mama. I’m sorry that you has a cough [caughch]. I’m sorry that…you’re not feeling well, Mama. I’m sorry.”
“Baby Baby doesn’t has teeth [teech], but moaty will make Baby Baby grow, and then Baby Baby will grow teeth.”
After today’s dusting of snow and dropping temperatures, I hope her final thoughts lead her to a good – and warm and cozy – night’s sleep. I know I’m feeling pretty warm and cozy myself after her reflections.