Saturday, September 24, 2011

Another Cloudy Morning

It's Saturday.  The sky once again is a stuffy grey and the damp air sticks to everything.  I heard rain in the night, but this morning all that's falling is mist.  Ben is on a trip, and I am tired.  I've been tired since school started, as if I were the one in a new classroom for more hours than I've ever been away from my mom, with 20 kids I don't know.  I'm not the one with a huge list of sight words to learn nor the one who just started preschool either.  But somehow, I am the one who is exhausted.  And maybe packing lunch and snack every day, thinking newly about what we need in the cupboards, filling out and keeping track of a ridiculous amount of paper work that public school requires, focusing on getting people here and there and everywhere on time, staying on top of homework for the first time ever, and adjusting to this new life overall is more work thank it seems like it should be.  But in any event, I am tired and my patience's running thin.  Right now Silas and Eden are calling from the other room, but I don't feel like putting a drop cloth down in their room so they can paint on the easel.  I don't feel like getting up and washing out Eden's brush because she painted in the red with the gold brush, I don't feel like fielding complaints ("MOM!  Eden is painting all OVER the easel!!").  I don't even feel like sitting on the couch and reading aloud.  What I'd really like to do is sit quietly at the kitchen table with the three days worth of newspapers that have built up and read them, then take a nap, then go down to the beach to walk alone.  That's what I feel like doing.  But today, like so many pieces of so many days, has nothing to do with what I FEEL like doing.  Today has to do with showing up for the day that was born into my hands this morning.  Today has to do with trying to speak in a nice voice and praying for patience when I have none, digging hard because I know it can come.  Today is about forcing myself to stare at Silas and Eden and see their small noses and little faces and hear them speak without R's ("let's get in the caw"), to see that today they still are small.  Today is about getting up from here and even though it's Saturday, packing a lunch for them and walking to the elementary school to meet with Silas's teacher because that's what I said I'd do.  And even if the whole day feels like slogging, I will slog because these are the people I love, and love as we so quickly learn, has little to do with what we feel like, and has much to do with slogging when what we'd most like to to is press mute and climb into bed for just a little nap.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Working the System (another goodbye)

Tonight Eden gathered up her blankies in a pile and announced that she's ready to give them up.  At this point, I think she's trying to find things around her room to exchange for presents, but since the pacifier exodus #2 is going swimmingly, I'll take whatever she's giving.

I have no doubt that she'll sleep just fine without a one -- she was a pacifier girl and the blanket was just icing -- but I will miss it, the way she always tucked her blanket under her chin like a violin and held its cool cotton to her cheek.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

tiny bright spots of imagination

Eden most all days is "Bella," one of the "sisters."  Her other sisters are Eden, Tulip, and Aryiah, who is very shy.  Bella often holds hands with Eden or Ariyah when we walk or crosses her arms over her chest to carry one of them.  Throughout the day, Bella asks where Eden is, which I think is a bit awkward since Eden obviously is left to navigate the world without parents.  I'm never sure how to answer this (though we have established that on Fridays Eden works in a donut shop).

Silas the other night over a dinner of cheese tortellini and kale (i.e. very little cooking): "Mom, this is SO good.  I feel like I'm eating in heaven."  

Overheard Eden singing a lullaby to a 1 year old friend: "Lullabyyyyyyy, sweet and sours and a coke"

Today the city cut down all the big beautiful eucalyptus trees on a street near our house.  On our drive home tonight looking out the window, Silas:  "This street makes me feel lonely."  Me too.

Getting out of the car, Eden: "there is a lion who lives on the back of my neck all the time, a little lion, he keeps my hair warm. do you want to touch him? he's right here"

Standing on a cliff over the bay, Eden: "why are there so many boobies down there?"  The water was specked with buoys. 

Monday, September 19, 2011


The weather has been June-like the last week or two -- a low cottony grey sky until early afternoon.  This morning, we gathered in the park, drew on blue and white balloons and released them for our friend Nate who died on Thursday night.  The weather felt like grief.  We watched them bob higher and higher until they were seeds against the grey, and even then we could still see them climb; they stayed right above us.  We all stood around a little awkwardly, and people put markers back in my hands while I tried to make conversation.  Then, so quietly I almost didn't notice, the sun shone down and patterned the grass with light and shadow, just for a minute before the clouds sealed up again.  

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pacifier -- to be or not to be -- a drawn-out question

About a month ago, I saw a jar of pacifiers at the dentist's office that kids had turned in for a toy (a LAME toy, by the way).  The jar must have planted seeds of pacifier guilt because as Silas, Eden and I were driving, I began to talk about the pacifier fairy and how, one day, she would come to our house and exchange Eden's pacifiers for a toy. Before I knew it, I was into a whole mythology about the baby fairies who cry and cry, and as they cry, their room fills with pickles, and nothing can make them stop crying but a big girl's pacifier. As soon as they start to suck a big girl's passy, all of the pickles pop into rainbow bubbles, and the baby fairies fall asleep.

I remember when my little sister had a "YaYa going away party" and she said goodbye to her yaya; and when the "dup dup fairy" came and took away my goddaughter's pacifier, but really, I hadn't thought this one through:  Eden only uses her pacifier in bed, and I've never been concerned about it -- it soothes her and she sleeps, and one day, I'm confident, she won't need it any more.  But there I was driving the car still talking about baby fairies, and the next thing I knew, Eden said she was ready for the Passy Fairy to come that night.

So she gathered her pacifiers and hung them on the doorknob in a little bag, and after she fell asleep, I shopped in the neighbor's attic and found a little china tea set that I laid out in the dark of her room. The exchange went swimmingly and the pacifiers were gone!

Long story short, after two and a half weeks of MUCH neediness at bedtime that involved clinging to my arm and wanting me to stay until she fell asleep every night (two of these weeks were vacation with my fam -- less than ideal), Ben and I gave her her pacifiers back.  I am pretty sure this is something one should *never* do, a cardinal sin of parenting, but she was so happy.  And she slept.

Two weeks later we popped into the pediatrician for a prescription for the rash she'd had around her mouth for a month, when to my shock and dismay, he said the only way to make it go away was to lose the pacifier.  Eden's eyes filled with tears, and she buried her head in my chest.  I sat there floundering in the facts.  We'd just given it back, school was about to start -- there was no way I could take it away again.  And the doctor would never have to know; the rash (which has no symptoms except aesthetic) would persist, and we'd wouldn't come back to the office.

Eden was thrilled and began saying things like, "I'll be done with this probly when I'm six." A week or so ago I must have said something that sounded mildly threatening about pacifiers because within the next two minutes, she had named each of them for the first time ever --  Rapunzel, purple Rapunzel, and (I forget the other!) -- and gathered them in her bed.

BUT -- end of the story -- yesterday out of the blue she told me she was ready to give them up again (just in time for changing classes at school Monday morning).  Two nights and several conversations later, she's stuck to it, and I think, finally, we're done.

A little note about popcorn

I am quite sure that popcorn on the stove was one of the first foods I learned to cook myself. Popcorn is one of my mom's favorite foods on earth -- f a v o r i t e (right up there with lobster and hot fudge).  Growing up when we had to bring snack to school or on a field trip or anywhere, the Moyer kids always brought a butter-stained paper grocery bag of popcorn.

Tonight as I popped popcorn (to complete my dinner of green beans, croutons, and beer...), I think I made a popcorn discovery.  I've recently been wondering why some batches of popcorn end up a little chewy, like they are stale, and some pop up perfectly crisp.  I'd thought it was simply the problem of a bum bottle of popcorn, but now I think it has everything to do with when the kernels are added to the pot: hot oil = crisp popcorn, oil and popcorn at once = chewy.

I made popcorn tonight to eat while Ben and I watched "The Beaver," which it turns out you should rent right away.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

At the end of the first week

We've snapped our first-day-of-school pictures and sit nearly at the end of our first full week.  Both kids, thankfully, waltzed into their new classrooms with hardly a look back.  And though I've bypassed weepiness and pangs of loss this September, I am keenly aware that I have no idea what we've begun.  And, indeed, this is a beginning.  More than one afternoon already, I've sat at the kitchen table for half an hour sorting through a stack of papers that came home in Silas's bag.  I'm selling wrapping paper already!  (any takers?) -- a sure sign of public school -- and have already written, what feels to be dozens of checks already for the PTA's varied faces.  

We walk to school each morning, and Eden and I walk to pick up Silas in the afternoons.  My mom visited last week and told me that I'd always remember these days, how old fashioned to walk a block hand-in-hand, and as soon as she said it, I could already feel the future nostalgia creeping in.  

What's strange is how unfamiliar this rhythm feels -- I want to jump in my car and race somewhere, I'd rather jump in my car and race than meander down the alley at a 3 year old's pace.   So it will take some learning to embody these days.

This week has also proved my un-readiness for Silas's sudden social craving.  I was positive that at the end of his new long days, Silas would long for down time and bask in the afternoon hours of playing with Eden and me.  Instead, every day I pick him up and he's dying to go to the park with the boys, dying to.  Yesterday when I made him come straight home, he walked down the street yelling, "I am SO MAD AT YOU!" all the way to the corner.  And he was.  So we learn together, and make adjustments.  

Eden has had only two days of school, but already I am wondering (and apparently she who asks, "when can I go to school every day??" is wondering) why in the world I signed her up for only two days.  Earlier I was obsessing over whether or not to switch her to three days when I stopped by the park to say hi -- a good reality check for what's worth letting consume my mind.

And now, post-back to school night, the house is quiet and I am drinking cheap wine while Ben is at a fantastic going away dinner for his boss (he's texting me about his dry ice cosmo -- got to love a man who orders a cosmo -- and seafood tower right now).  Tomorrow will wrap up week #1 and we'll all have learned a bit more.    

Monday, September 05, 2011

The day before kindergarten

Last week we ate dinner with Ben's dad and were talking about the beginning of kindergarten. Bill can remember both orientation and his first day. Neither Ben nor I could remember ours, or many first days at all -- Ben, none and I, only 9th grade and college. Tomorrow morning Silas will have his first day of kindergarten -- the only first day of kindergarten he'll ever have. What will he remember about this sliver of life when we lived in a pink house and walked to school down an alley? I cannot anticipate or create what comes next. These experiences will be only his, the beginnings of his conscious story -- the friends he'll have, games he'll play at recess, lego creations he'll build, ways he'll be hurt or victorious or excited, beaming moments of learning this or hitting the ball there. I will walk (and pray) him to the door of room #5 each morning, kiss his little face, and just like that, we will live in a new season.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but today, a sunny Monday, both Silas and I are ready. I hope we'll hold hands as we walk.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Back Home

Our Sunday morning began with our jolting awake as both kids pushed and yelled, wrestling for a spot in our bed. Then there were fits and tears about putting clothes on and washing faces and getting out the door for a small walk to the coffee shop.

Now, in the calm after the storm, we are sitting in the living room -- Ben is reading the paper, I am typing, Eden (who currently is a 16 year old named Bella who sucks a pacifier sometimes, a stranger who has come to visit but mysteriously sleeps in Eden's bed every night) is lying next to me spinning more of her story, and Silas is knotting a chain around the coffee table.

Our first week back involved nearly no emotional adjustment, which is rare and welcome, but the jet lag has been unrelenting -- everyone droops around 10AM and never quite rallies. But we've had a back to school party, visited Silas's elementary school (!!) and met his kindergarten teacher (!!!), had reunions with friends, and some time at the beach.

In the last month, Eden has bloomed more into a child, no longer a toddler -- she constantly tells stories, tells me she loves me, texts her "sister" on my phone, chatters away with dolls and animals, arranges creatures in houses and boxes, and prances and dances as she goes.

Silas begins kindergarten in two days. Thank goodness (for me) that he is nothing but thrilled about it, especially the lunch card he will swipe on pizza day. He's already begging to bike to school alone -- mercy!

I've been glad to be greeted by September, fresh new beginning, a month I've always loved -- new classes, notebooks, perspective. I'm trying to anticipate what the weeks will feel like, how we'll move in our new rhythm. My friends at the park have weighed heavily on my mind since I've been home: what can I possibly offer, give that will matter enough? Time, meals and friendship, yes, but what more? How will Silas do in his long days with new kids and countless conversations I know nothing about? I haven't written since May -- will the poems come back? These are the questions framing September -- the fog early in the month before the days crisp with clarity.