Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Shadow, Shadow on the Wall

The shadows on the stair landing introduced themselves to my son today. They stood there and chatted for a bit. Since he is the big brother, these shadows condescended to being called “Little Brother” and “Little Sister.”

Big Brother asked what they were doing.

He invited them to come upstairs with him.

Bending down to talk at their level, he put his hands on his knees in a very friendly and grown-upish sort of way.

The position of the sun changed as the day progressed. Big Brother came back to check on his shadowy siblings. Little Brother was still there, but Little Sister seemed to have gone away.

“Where is Little Sister, Little Brother? Where is she?”

Little Brother didn’t know where she was. Or if he did, he didn’t tell.

At long last the sun did set. Big Brother has not inquired after Little Sister lately. I’m sure she’ll be back tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Passing the Torch of Hole-y-ness

My son is doomed for a life of hole-y socks. He comes by it honestly enough: before I saw this trait beginning to emerge in him, I always said that my husband went through more socks than any other human being I had ever known. My husband does go through more socks than anyone I know. I feel that every time I fold the laundry there are two or three more socks with undisguisable holes that must be expelled from their place in the top drawer of the bureau.

Part of the fault may lie in his larger than normal feet. Measuring at a size thirteen makes it difficult to find socks that fit at Walmart, as most socks sold there are only meant to be worn by a man who wears a size twelve or smaller shoe. But buy them at Walmart we do, and the sock is stretched as though on the rack when the foot is inserted; I believe the strain placed on the sock to cover more area than it is meant to causes premature fraying at the toe area.

I am also pretty sure that the toenails on said foot steadily saw away at the stressed area like prisoners digging their way to free air outside of the wire. It might help some if the man didn’t drag his feet over the thresholds of doorways where nails and screws have a habit of dislodging themselves and poking out in an upward fashion in an effort to snag unsuspecting passersby.

So needless to say, there is a steady flow of footwear from dresser drawer to the rag bag to the garbage can. For a while I contented myself with the fact that a large part of my sock drawer can be dated back ten years or more. At least there was only one destroyer of socks in the house.

Not so anymore. I realized the other day, as I pulled a sock onto my son’s foot and his big toe propelled itself out through a rent in the fabric and about poked me in the eyeball, that at least half of his socks have no mates due to the large number that have peaceably reached the stage of retirement due to their inability to be of any further use as foot-huggers. Like with his father, I suspect that this may be due in part to the smallishness of the socks and the dragging of feet. Although I’m also pretty sure that trying to chew one’s toes through aforementioned sock may ultimately have a detrimental effect on the stability and wholeness of the article in the long run.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fear from Inflection

There are three words, uttered in the pudgy voice of my nineteen-month-old stick-child that instantly summons fear and trembling into my heart. I can survive the tumbling sound as she bumps down a couple of stairs, but when she says, “Make a mess!” the life just about goes out of me as I stagger toward the sound of her voice with at least one eye squeezed shut.

It may merely mean that she has dumped the plastic bin of dinosaurs and sea-creatures all over the floor, or it could signify the emptying of a box of crackers onto the floor. Drawing on walls constitutes this exclamation, as well as upending the entire contents of the humidifier onto the bedroom floor where it will inevitably soak into the carpet and cause much mold and general rot. There is also a chance that all of my clean, nicely folded laundry has found its way onto the floor, and is now unfolded.

I believe that it is actually the force with which she shouts the word “mess” that stirs such dread into my bowels. Generally, said mess can be cleaned up without too much ado. Alas, simply knowing this to be true does not alleviate much (if any) anxiety of my part.

Monday, January 12, 2009

We See Turkeys on the Road

Through out this past spring and summer I always became a little nervous whenever we would motor past a slain animal lying in the road, its fur a shambles and smeared with blood, internal organs peeking out from beneath the burst flesh.

At times I would find myself engaging my forward facing car-seat bound toddler in conversation in order to distract him from the roadway and the carnage that was heaped upon it. I felt some apprehension that he should take notice and ask me what it was; I feared emotional confusion on his part should he associate it with one of his pet cats.

There came a day, somewhere during the fall, when I had to stop at a red octagonal road sign and wait for a break in the passing traffic in order to pull onto the road and continue the trek to Nana’s house. Directly to my left, and a few yards in front of my son’s window, lay a mangled mess that used to be some sort of medium-sized mammal.

The voice of a little boy spoke up from the back seat. My anxiety was quickly calmed when I heard what followed:

“Look, Mommy,” he shouted, “a turkey on the road!”

He’d only ever seen turkeys in books, but something about the squashed carcass on the road resembled poultry. He sounded pretty excited. Let us count our blessings.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Practice Makes Perfect

There have been more signs of a certain little man growing up way too fast around here. I have to say that while I’m not a fan of the whole growing-up thing, I still find myself smiling when I spot the symptoms.

My little boy has taken to slouching around the house with his hands in his pockets. I don’t know why. He doesn’t put anything into them. Nor does he take anything out of them. I suppose it’s just a new fun thing to do.

Certain words are finding their way into his everyday vocabulary as well. Take the word “very” for example. “I’m very done, mommy.” Or “I very love you, mommy,” are popular phrases nowadays. “I guess” is another expression that is heard with a frequency. “I’m gonna play dinosaurs, I guess.” “I want peanut-fluffernutter, I guess.”

Last night when he was asked if he was hungry he replied, “No, I’m just practicing.” Neither of us could figure out precisely what it was that he was practicing. But whatever it was he deemed it more important than eating, so it must have been vital.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Just Call Me Laura

It’s been fun around here, pretending to be Laura Ingalls Wilder. The water authority in our city had a filter malfunction and spewed some 2,500 gallons of improperly treated water into our pipes. We would have been blissfully ignorant of this disaster until our bodies began to eject disease and pestilence from uncomfortable portals except that my father, who doesn’t even live in the same city, called to warn us that we needed to boil all water used for dish washing, teeth brushing, drinking, and food preparation.

Of course my immediate reaction was something like an oh-brother-y groan, but I quickly realized how blessed we are to have access to clean water at any moment of any given day, and adjusted my attitude accordingly; even our now compromised water was heavenly compared with what people in underdeveloped areas of the globe are forced to drink. Besides, I assured myself, this could be fun! If viewed with the attitude of adventure, of course.

It turns out that boiling enough water for drinking, brushing, and food prep isn’t so bad. Trying to figure out how to boil water for dish washing, however, is a pain in the patootie. If I filled all of my pots and pans with water to boil I might have enough to fill one side of the sink; or perhaps it would be best to boil just enough for a splashing rinse, so as not to totally deplete my stock of safely boiled water. Better yet, maybe I should just hold my breath and hope for the advisory to be lifted quickly, and leave my dirty dishes to degenerate for the time being.

For the first evening and the following day I did just that: I left the dishes unwashed in the sink. So as not to fill the porcelain sink any higher we used all manner of paper, plastic, and Styrofoam plates, forks, and cups. We probably slew an entire forest of lush greenery. On the second morning of my Laura Ingalls Wilder experience I could stand it no longer and attempted to wash at least a portion of the dirtiness. It wasn’t easy, and after I saw how quickly the boiled water was disappearing I gave it up.

Going out of my way to ensure safe, clean water by boiling it in kettles and pots really didn’t complicate my life all that much. What I did find challenging at first was remembering to not use the water out of the tap. Thankfully I didn’t poison anyone in my family with unsafe drinking water through my forgetfulness. I have to say that I’m also thankful that the advisory was lifted this afternoon after only about forty-two hours. Now I just have to figure out what to do with the three pots full of boiled water still on my stove.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Naming the Animals

When I sit to do a craft that involves instructions I generally follow the directions, especially if it is a simple project or something I haven’t tried before. Sometimes this bothers me and makes me feel less creative than I like, but I just try to enjoy the task and forget about my silly perceived self-notions.

Some months back I was at the craft store looking for a craft project that I could do with my son. In the end I purchased a kit for making animal faces out of foam. It seemed pretty safe.

As it turned out, a three-year-old boy who has trouble sitting still and following directions can get overexcited while doing crafty things, but we still had a lot of fun and managed to make one of each of the four animals. In retrospect, crafts that involve googly-eyes may not be the best choice. I followed him around for a couple of days picking stray eyeballs up off of the floor and making sure he didn’t try to eat them or feed them to his little sister.

The other day daddy was hunting for something new and fun to do with the little man and saw the box of foam facial features sitting on the shelf collecting dust. So he got it down. Ignoring my suggestion that he use nice, safe glue dots, he instead opted for the gorilla glue that he keeps in his workbag. This made me more than a little nervous.

The two of them settled into the dining room table with their little bag o’ tricks (and the scary glue) and got down to business. My son first suggested making an elephant for his nana. His next request was a companion lion for his granddad. The elephant ended up with a bit of a leaky-eye problem and the lion has no ears, but they’re both ordinary enough looking animals.

Then daddy hit his groove and his crazy creative streak kicked in. When his little protégé requested that they make a monkey for his Auntie Shmish, daddy said, “How about a tiger monkey?” Daddy’s carbon copy caught onto that idea pretty quickly, and before they were done they had made a liger for Auntie B and an elephonkey for Aunt EM.

It’s special times like these that I’m reminded of how blessed I am to have a husband who possesses such a uniquely creative mind. It’s fun to watch my children learn to think outside of the box when it comes to creating. If it were my sole responsibility to nurture their imagination, they would always be putting the correct color with the correct number and all their foam animals would be of recognizable species. I’m also thankful that the nasty industrial glue did no permanent damage.