Monday, August 15, 2011
One Sunday, while riding home from the library, Audrey said, "If I were big, I could pick up houses." After thinking out loud about how she would move houses around if she were to find herself suddenly being of Herculean proportions (and abilities), she asked, "What would you do if you were big?"
"If I were a giant, I would wade across the ocean," I said, surprised at how quickly the words came. Beyond attending an elementary school with a giant as its mascot, I'd never contemplated living that large. "I would walk across the parts of the ocean where I normally can't touch," I said. Then, being neither within spitting distance of the ocean, or possessing boats as feet, I drove home and made dinner like everyone else.
"It's been six weeks since you've blogged," Jason said a few days later. "If you don't blog soon, people will start to worry that something is wrong." That was at least two weeks ago.
All I can say is this: I have average feet. I can't transverse the ocean in mere strides. And that's fine. In fact, I have a feeling that had I the ability to rise up out of the water, I'd miss being in neck-deep. There's so much goodness to get swept up in here.
Since I can't remember everything in order from the last couple of months, this "Week" in Review is going to take a different form. Here, from our experiences of the last couple months are the things I know for sure:
Four-year-olds don't care what size their shoes are. Kids see themselves as one-size-fits-all, and that size is Bigger Than They Are.
I believe Audrey thinks herself ready to take over for me at any moment, should I be deemed unfit. Thursday, I heard Jack gag and turned from doing dishes to find her sticking one of Nathan's spoons in Jack's mouth. When I told her Jack was still too young for spoons, she insisted, "He has to learn." (Apparently, very concerned for her brother's education, she only relented from the exercise when I removed the spoon from her hand). Last month, she asked to give Jack his bottle. A few minutes into the feeding, she positioned his hands together at his chest, propped the bottle on top, and clapped at his ability to hold his own bottle. When she sees me feeding him now, she often reminds me that he can do it himself.
On Tuesday, Audrey asked if she and Nathan could play upstairs while I cleaned up the kitchen. I agreed. After a while, it was quiet. I yelled for her. She came downstairs. "Where's Nathan?" I asked.
"I put him down for a nap."
"Where?" I asked, envisioning her attempting to hoist him (a mere 10 pounds lighter than she) into his crib.
"In my room," she answered. "I scooted him to the end of my bed, put my covers on him, and told him it was nap time."
I went upstairs to investigate. I found a green-and-white-polka-dotted mound at the edge of her bed. Carefully, I pulled up the quilt. Sure enough, there he was, sandwiched between layers of covers, fast asleep, a pacifier between his lips.
Audrey attended Vacation Bible School for the first time this summer. "What will I do at VBS?" she asked a few days before the program started. I told her it would be a lot like Sunday School, but she'd do even more fun stuff. I told her they would sing songs and do crafts and learn about God. "Will they teach me to drive a car?" she asked. I told her she might be disappointed with VBS after all.
The next week she informed me, "I think I know how to drive a car because I rode on the lawn mower with Papaw." (I've been keeping my car keys on a very high hook, just in case she decides to attempt cutting the grass with the SUV).
When it's 85 degrees inside, air conditioning is nice. Having the resources to fix the air conditioning is a blessed thing. But shade trees and friends who distract you when your air conditioning is broken are luxuries no one should be without.
The strong silent types are apt to break your heart, or every bone in their bodies.
Nathan is a boy of few words. I know he knows some. Last month he brought a shoe to me, said "shoe" perfectly and walked away. I'd never heard him say it before, and I haven't heard it since.
I haven't heard much out of him at all, which is troublesome, because in those moments of quiet, every other part of him is busy.
Nate has been trying to jump from a standing position for a month. He can manage to get one leg off the floor, but unbalances himself too much to get airborne with the second. He has, however, figured out how to pull himself up onto the coffee table and jump onto the couch from that vantage point.
Last week, I walked into the office to find him sitting on top of the desk. I had moved the chair away from the desk earlier in the day thinking I'd eliminated that ability. I put him on the floor and asked him how he'd gotten up there. I meant it rhetorically. He answered me anyway. He pulled open the bottom drawer (initially intended to hold a typewriter), used it as a step, and pulled himself onto the desk.
Yesterday, he discovered that if he gets into the coat closet, overturns his sister's basket (dumping out her bicycle helmet, scarf, hats and mittens, and sunglasses) he can use the basket as a stool to reach anything on the kitchen island he desires. I need to put bells on his shoes, because it seems the only person he wants to make noise for is the little boy reflected from the stove front who dances just like him.
Sometimes, the deepest kind of gratitude can be found in the discovery of the simplest facts. For example, Nathan is not allergic to bees - something I discovered after he overturned a buried hive in some mulch, receiving seven stings before I could reach him and pull him away. Gratitude. Gratitude. Gratitude.
Those rumors about apples and trees? They just might be on to something.
I bought some peaches last month. When I got them home, I grabbed a stoneware bowl, filled it with the peaches, and placed it on the counter. Then, I watched as Audrey put a place mat in the center of the kitchen table and grabbed an empty colander from a cabinet that she placed on top, before dumping our newly purchased bunch of bananas inside.
Jason has been trying to break himself of saying I thought in my head, since, well, where else do your thoughts come from? Last month (and tonight) I overheard Audrey begin her sentence, "We'll have to think in our mind..."
This month, Audrey returned from a birthday party to find me watching the food network. I asked if she wanted to come outside to play while I did yard work. "Only if you record this so I can watch it later," she said.
Baby smiles are contagious, and their kisses therapeutic. (Lately, I've been the lucky recipient of both).
Sometimes, the littlest among us leave the biggest footprints.
Lately, I've been calling the baby Chief, as in Commander-in-Chief, because I find myself to be constantly in the act of moving him to a more secure location to save him from mass destruction. And somehow, as we all fawn over him (Jack accepting this fate with the widest of grins) the name fits.
One never outgrows the magic of fireflies. Or S'mores. Or reading books by flashlight.
If wonder is the default state of childhood, then the default state of parenthood is shock and awe.
The first day of July, the older kids ran upstairs while I was busy feeding Jack. After several minutes of quiet, I yelled up, "Audrey, what are you guys doing?"
"We're up to something!" she said.
Ten days later, Audrey was sent to her room within ten minutes of getting up for the day. I sent her back to her room for a timeout. When I went to get her, I found her dressed, her bed made, and the clean clothes that had been stacked on a chair put away in her dresser. I sat down to "talk to her" about why she had been sent to her room. I was really steadying myself to keep from passing out from the shock.
One rare morning last month, when Audrey was allowed to begin her day by watching something on television, she became disgruntled with the sun coming through some curtain-less windows (above our standard windows) creating a glare. "Mom, the sun!" she complained.
"Honey, I can't do anything about the sun."
"You could put pillows in the windows," she said.
One afternoon in late July, Audrey found a fly swatter in our basement. A few minutes later, I heard her say, "Nate, you're a fly. Run!" (A few minutes after that, I saw him biting her toes).
We made a trip to Camp Tecumseh last week to visit with friends. As with all car rides, as soon as I put the car in motion, Audrey asked that I tell her a story. She typically gives me guidelines as to what the story should be about (for example, on the Fourth of July, she asked that I tell her a story in which Dora and Boots build a house, after which, Boots eats a piece of bacon only to find that he's allergic). As we drove down the highway, she said, "But this time, the characters will be Dora and Boots" (lately we've been on a baby dragon kick, in which the baby dragon is always discovered hatching from an egg by a little girl named Sweetheart).
"Character?" I said. "You know the word character?"
After a thorough quizzing, during which, I determined that she did, indeed, know the definition of character and that inanimate objects don't count, I did what any, ahem, fanatical English major would and asked, "Do you know what 'setting' is?"
I then explained what the setting of a story is, followed by a brief quiz of the settings of all the Dr. Seuss books we had read that week, before settling into the requested Dora and Boots story, the plot of which I can't remember, only that Audrey did not approve of the outcome, to which I responded, if she didn't like the ending, she could make up her own stories.
Summer is as fleeting as popsicle drips.
The world has its own set of checks and balances to keep you grounded. They are called preschoolers.
When Jason travels, I try to keep the kids busy with special outings and play dates with friends. Upon meeting up with some good friends recently, their mother relayed a little story. Her daughters had recently watched The Incredibles. When she later told them that they were going to see baby Jack, they couldn't contain their excitement, assuming it was Jack-Jack from the movie (a seemingly ordinary baby until he suddenly harnesses the ability to burst into a flaming fireball at the end of the movie). As apt as our family is to All Hail the Chief, I think the girls were slightly disappointed that Jack's only real talent thus far seems to involve projectile spitting and not the ability to instantaneously combust. Although, he has figured out how to light up his mother.
As impressed as I might be when Jason calls and describes his ventures abroad (this summer he's had to make a trip to England and one to Barcelona), Audrey isn't as easily dazzled. During a phone call from London, she asked what he'd been doing and eating (she has a tendency to ask what he's eaten when he's away). "I've been eating in really old buildings," he told her.
"Ah, poor Daddy," she said.
Before Jason left for Barcelona, Audrey drew him a picture of a train. Jason had set the picture on a table just long enough for Nathan to find it. Audrey came across her artwork a little worse for wear. She brought it to her father.
"You need to move your picture so it doesn't get crinkled," she said. "Did you want it crinkled?"
"No," he said.
"Well, it's crinkled."
One night after studying her father at dinner, Audrey said, "Daddy, God forgot to give you hair."
"God didn't forget. I just lost it," he said.
She turned to me. "So Mama, did you see where he put his hair?"
With kids like these, you don't have to be a giant to live large. You just have to remind yourself to sit back every once in a while and take it all in. Until next time...