Archives for the month of: December, 2014

We’ve arrived here, at New Year’s Eve, just like we’ve done every year of our lives. Of course, when you’re 4 1/2, that means it’s only been (and yet, it’s already been!) five years’ worth of New Year’s Eves. When you’re 1 1/2, there’s only been one other. So much seems new! (And there are so many new words…)

After some party time, they both fell asleep after ten o’clock, Boy snuggled in my arms, Girl snuggled face-to-face with me. “Don’t go, stay here and keep me warm,” she murmured drowsily as I shifted to cover her up. Their warmth still lingers with me, even as I sit here.

We didn’t have time to linger over reading, though. Tonight, we read – but barely! – from Kathryn Jackson’s The Around-the-Year Storybook, with pictures by J.P. Miller. With stories, poems, and songs (covering the seasons, constellations, and holidays, among other things) for each month of the year, it’s a good one to pick up regularly. The animals in the stories, like Mathilda Mouse, Little Bear, and Grandfather Groundhog, are generally charming. It seemed appropriate. The book ends with “And So the Year’s Over -” and goes like this:

The year is like a rolling wheel
That never makes a sound,
But changes seasons as it goes
A-rolling, rolling round.

And when the year has rolled around
The old year ends, and then–
That rolling wheel of changing days
Starts rolling round again.

Tonight, Boy rolled from my arms onto the bed – and onto his belly – and Girl rolled onto her side, a snuggle personified. And, with another hour or so, our year, too, will roll around, and we can roll back to the beginning of the book as we start a year anew. May it be a happy new year!

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Jackson, Kathryn. The Around-the-Year Storybook. New York: Golden Press, 1971.

 

The answer is no, nearly all the time.

Will things always be this way?

Will they always wake up at night?
Will bedtime always feel epic and exhausting?
Will Boy always roam (or stand in his chair) while he’s eating instead of sitting at the table?
Will Boy always dump out every puzzle we have?
Will Boy always take his shoes and socks off within moments of getting in the car?
Will Boy always pee on the floor, the couch, and unsuspecting books?
Will Boy always prefer liquid mama to solid food?
Will Girl always want to talk to me when I’m on the phone with someone else?
Will Girl always insist on the other parent at the precise moment you most want to be with her?
Will Girl always want me to snuggle her in order to go to sleep?
Will Girl always talk in the mouse voice, the one that makes me feel annoyed before even hearing what she says?
Will Girl always be upset over scary things in movies and TV shows?

Right now, it’s 9:14. Girl and Daddy went to a Frozen sing-a-long. After beginning the movie once – and stopping partway through because she was afraid of the wolves and other parts, too – she declared, “I’ll watch it when I’m ten.” That’s been her standard for things like Rudolph, at the point when Clarice is in the Abominable Snowman’s grasp. Girl was in tears, and that was the end for her. Until she’s ten.

She loves the music and can sing the songs (there was at least one month in which we heard the soundtrack every day; Boy knows lots of the words, too!), which is why I thought she’d enjoy it and encouraged her to go; I thought she’d leave after Anne met Kristoff – pre-wolf.

I hear the car door, and since the movie started at 7:30, this can only mean one thing: they watched the whole movie. I’m impressed that she’s been brave – what a milestone! It’s another “no” for the list. No, not always. It only seems that way. While I’m impressed, I’m a little sad, too. Isn’t that always the way?

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“Fock,” she said the other day, and looked at me craftily – no, not craftily, but testingly, sideways, just a little.

“Fock,” she said again. She waited.

“Oh,” I said. I didn’t laugh, and I didn’t gasp. I remained calm – it’s what I’m practicing, being patient and calm. (It’s working pretty well, too – now, I sometimes stop myself mid-shout: “Why am I shouting? Tell me to be calm!” My daughter then says, “Be calm, Mama!”) Besides, I was thrown for a loop; I hadn’t expected this line of conversation. I was trying to figure out how to address this. You can’t just say, “Wait a minute honey; I’ll be right back after I go read a parenting book for advice on how to deal with this situation.” There’s a lot of improv, and maybe it’s not the kind that would make Second City hire me, but as a parent, you do your best – without cursing yourself for not thoroughly preparing for whatever particular moment you find yourself in.

“Is that OK to say?” she asked.

“Where did you hear it?” I countered.

“At school.” Of course. Preschool is educational in many, many ways.

“Oh. Who said it?”

“One of the kids.” Naturally. Or “natch,” as my daughter sometimes likes to say.

“Fock.” She waited again. “It is a bad word?”

Earlier this week, she came home from preschool, telling me how someone had said “hate,” and that she told the student that that wasn’t a nice thing to say. She also told me that the student went on playing and didn’t pay attention to her. Someone else said, “Stupid blocks!” and she also said that it isn’t nice to call things stupid. In our house, we try to avoid lots of words – and not just the obvious ones. (Once, I said “crap” in front of her, and she repeated it over and over for about a minute. I knew then and there that slipping wasn’t an option because I’d hear about it – and so would many, many other people – for a long time.) We try to avoid saying “hate,” “stupid,” “dumb,” “idiot,” “ugly,” and my big three classroom no-no words and phrases, “gay,” “retarded,” and “shut up,” among others – really, the words that are most likely used disparagingly. We don’t always succeed (for instance, Sandra Boynton is prone to use “ugly,” and Lucy in Peanuts uses the word “stupid,” so you either have to say it or go with “silly” or something else on the spot), but we do our best. I told her then that I was proud of her for using her words and telling them how she felt about those words.

So here, we had “fock.” What to do?

“You know how you told the other kids this week that they shouldn’t say ‘hate’ and ‘stupid’? That was really good, and I’m proud of you. There are lots of words like those, and some other words that just aren’t nice to say. You have to decide for yourself if you’re going to be the kind of person who uses them or not.”

And that was it. She hasn’t said it again, and she didn’t say anything else about it. We all like to test our limits, and we all have to figure out who we are – or whom we’d like to be.  I’d like to think that “fock” disappeared because she has decided that she’s not the kind of person who uses those kinds of words. At least for now.