The best things, II

Fall seems to finally be arriving here in South Bend, and every day I feel more like the mother of two toddlers instead of a toddler and a baby. We are soaking up the all the breezes, turning leaves, and time together. Here are some of my favorite things from this week:

  • John Henry says “ouch” every time he hears any sort of sound like a bump. When we are listening to Mozart and he hears the drums, there’s an “ouch!” from the backseat. When Edith drops a book on the floor, “ouch!” Even when he takes a tumble, if it isn’t tear-worthy, there’s always an “ouch!” The best part is he very carefully pronounces each sound, dividing the word into two syllables. “Ou-chshhhh!”Processed with VSCO with q8 preset
  • The way Edith internalizes books and stories these days is pretty remarkable. She told me the other day she didn’t want to get toothpaste in her hair because it would be sticky. (One Morning in Maine) She also found a puzzle piece we had been missing and said, “It was in your [my] belly. But you [I] got it out!” (Curious George Goes to the Hospital) It is pretty amazing to discover just how much power literature and reading has in forming a child. The books she read are literally giving her a vocabulary for her life. That’s crazy, and quite the responsibility.
  • We’ve been listening to Classical Kid’s and Edith loves Mozart’s Magic Flute. She walks around the house all day talking about “Prince Tamino” as if he is one of her close friends.
  • More from The Magic Flute: Edith answered my question of where angels live with “in the darkness” and she told me we would have to go take a nap when the “darkness covers the sun,” both phrases from Mozart.
  • When Edith learns a word for something she hasn’t encountered before, she often uses a word that she knows instead. Two recent examples: apple cider became apple spider and apple crisp, apple Christmas.
  • John Henry thinks he can say far more words than he actually can and it’s so cute to hear him making lots of different sounds, as if he’s clearly communicating all day.
  • And one last treat from this week: I made an inaugural trip to IKEA and found the cutest little chair in the clearance section that makes both my living room and our grad-school budget both happy. Win.

The best things, I

Matching diapers and matching bellies

This week has been full of many toddler emotions, which always leads to a great deal of bewilderment on my part, and the hottest days of the year so I am happy to see it go. Despite all of that, here are some of the happy moments from our week.

I was inspired by my friend, Geena‘s, lists of recorded memories, and want to be better about collecting and writing down moments in our day that I want to remember. This stage in life is so full and busy—not busy meaning that our calendar is overflowing, but busy because there are so many needs and so many wants…and so. many. feelings. Even so, I want to remember all of this:

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  • the way John Henry charges to the stairs, looks over at me with a big grin and says, “No no. No no.”
  • Edith and I always come up with something she can tell her dad when he gets home from school, and the minute she hears the door open, she starts repeating it over and over again. The other day was “when you a baby, you say kaka. That means you want water.” (You being I.)
  • when Edith and I were discussing a friend’s pregnancy, I asked if she is having a baby girl or a baby boy. Edith, in a correcting tone, says, “No. She’s having a baby.”
  • after I sneeze, completely unprompted, Edith says, “Bless you, Mama.”Processed with VSCO with f2 preset
  • my little whirlwind, Edith, somehow can sit happily and perfectly content in her brother’s high chair, playing with beads for hours on end. She sorts them and looks at them and puts them in a bowl, all while listening to Curious George on tape. It is amazing to watch.
  • when we came in from playing outside, Travis asked Edith what she was doing and she said, “singing to the leaves.” (Really, she was. #hearteyes)Processed with VSCO with q8 preset

Just doing Nothing

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“I like that too,” said Christopher Robin, “but what I like doing best is Nothing.”

“How do you do Nothing?” asked Pooh, after he had wondered for a long time.

“Well, it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, What are you going to do, Christopher Robin, and you say, Oh, nothing, and then you go and do it.”

“Oh, I see,” said Pooh.

~

Then, suddenly again, Christopher Robin, who was still looking at the world, with his chin in his hands, called out “Pooh!”

“Yes?” said Pooh.

“When I’m—when—Pooh!”

“Yes, Christopher Robin?”

“I’m not going to do Nothing any more.”

“Never again?”

“Well, not so much. They don’t let you.”

(A.A. Milne, The Complete Tales of Pooh)

This ending to Winnie the Pooh tugs at my heart every time I think about it and hear it on the 45-minute adaptation on Spotify that Edith listens to every day.

I think about how beautiful it is, that my children can do nothing with their days and nothing with their time, and that this nothing is a good and right and beautiful thing for them to do. I think about how never again in their lives will they be encouraged to do nothing, never again will it be a positive thing.

Most days, I feel like I did “nothing,” but I am learning that it is actually a good thing. I am guarding their ability to do nothing. I am protecting their days of playing and reading and exploring, for truly they will be gone, as one day they must be.

One day they will have classes and worksheets and assignments and schedules and logs and calendars and everything else. But not now.

For now, their nothing is everything.

Vignettes

DSC_0007Me: “I have to get up to shower tomorrow.”
Travis: “No you don’t. You’re not going anywhere.”
Me: “Yes, I do. There are ladies coming over.”
Travis: “Are they ladies who shower?”

(Thanks to my husband for always being supportive of my less-than eagerness to wash my hair most days.)

~

The other morning, while Edith was playing outside with some other children, a loud airplane flew low over the backyard. Edith’s little head popped up and she watched the whole time it was in her line of sight until it disappeared—her eyes wide, a big grin on her face, saying something to herself that I couldn’t hear from inside the house. Probably “Airplane! Whoosh!” over and over and over again. I love to see her noticing things—her eyes bright, and her face turned with complete attention. I love it. I want to foster that in her, to teach her to see things and notice things and giver her full attention to them. It is good for me to remember that she will best learn this act of noticing from me. It is a weighty thing, this job I have of being a model for another person to imitate.

~

Processed with VSCO with c2 presetOn Sunday, during communion, when Edith usually says (very loudly): “Jesus here!”, this week, she said: “Jesus read Frog and Toad?”

~

I am glad that whoever planned my house thought of the sunshine. It comes in the large, back doors, first thing in the morning, as we are still working on waking up. Then it moves a bit and spills through the big window on the other side of the dining room, warming our breakfast and getting in John Henry’s eyes as he bounces in the kitchen doorway. Then it warms up the whole house, all afternoon, through the huge front window. I live for light, and this home has given me so much. It is making up for my first three years of lightless apartment living.

~

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As I tried to communicate to Edith the dangers of running into the road, I told her one time that the cars would “get her.” Ever since, she would say “cars get you street.” “Trucks get you street.”

“That’s right, Edith,” I would say. “The cars will get you so we stay in the yard.”

The trouble is, she has taken this very much to heart and every time we are in the front yard and she hears a car coming down the road, she crouches in the grass and looks around like she is expecting it to jump off the road and tackle her to the ground. Now she won’t even walk in a parking lot with me, holding my hand. “Cars get you,” she says in tears, again and again, until I hold her.

Mom fail or mom success? I haven’t decided.