30 November 2011

37 Months. It's On

I was induced at 41 weeks with you. Have I ever told you that particular detail? I cannot remember. You were finally brought into this world via an emergency c-section and after sitting in my birth canal for so long when you did come out, your head was cone-shaped. Your dad thought it was actually going to stay cone-shaped and the nurses were just being nice by not saying anything about it. In any case, at the time I just thought you were a difficult birth. In hindsight, I know that you were really mad that you had not been born on your terms. I can actually imagine you sitting inside me with your arms crossed pouting refusing to come out. You were an angry infant for the first few weeks of your life. You would sleep all day and then be up all night long. Every night I would nurse you and change your revolting diapers on a fifteen-to-thirty-minute cycle. I kept one of those journals everyone told me I was supposed to keep about when you nursed and when you slept. After awhile I stopped because it was so repetitive it seemed silly to write it down. Midnight: nurse. 12.30: change diaper. 1.00 AM: nurse. 1.15 AM: change diaper. It was, I would tell people, like living in a town being ravaged by a werewolf. Night would fall and you would start screaming. Like I said, in hindsight, I think you were just really angry about being forced into the world on someone else's terms other than your own.

Three years later, you are actually a pretty good sleeper, not that we didn't have to sleep train the hell out of you for months on end. But for the most part, you usually fall asleep on your own sometime between the time I shut the door at 8.00 and when I check on you around 10.00. Of course, the other night I checked on you and you were asleep on the floor with your head half under your bed. Who knows what you had been doing when sleep finally descended. But the point is not about you sleeping, it is about living your life on your terms. That part of your personality has not changed one bit and once again I feel like I am that villager living in the werewolf ravaged town except that those villagers could just keep an eye on the moon and know when to lock their doors. I feel like I am living with a land mine that could go off at the moment when I least expect it.

Just like that it's really hard again. I am reading a book right now called Your Three Year Old, Friend or Enemy. The book, published in 1985, came before the word frenemy came into being, but that is exactly what you are right now. You are my best friend and my worst enemy rolled into one very frustrated, eager, adorable, charming, maddening little boy. But instead of being mad like an infant because you were hungry (or just mad about being born) you can tell me why you are angry and much of the time it isn't rational at all. I know, I realize I am expecting way too much of you if I think you can be rational at three. Well, maybe it is rational, but it just seems incredibly annoying to me. If I take the iPad away from you after your allotted 30 minutes in the morning you throw yourself across the couch and scream. Where warnings of 10 more minutes, 5 more minutes used to have some effect, now we get to the end of a time period and you just flat out refuse to do anything else. Sometimes you suddenly decide that putting on your shirt is "too hard," or that you don't know any of the letters of the alphabet.

You collapse onto the ground at the slightest provocation and nothing short of threatening to take your favorite toys away will compel you to get up and start moving again. If I try to take you on a walk, you will stop stock-still and not move at all. You demand to be carried and when I refuse (you weigh more than 30 pounds now) you resume your soldier-like stillness and simply say, "I can't walk." You will crumple at the smallest thing telling me, "Don't look at me. Don't smile." and you contradict every single thing that I say. If I mention that the sky looks particularly blue, you will respond, "It isn't blue Mama. It's red." My favorite, because it is just so obviously meant to get a rise out of me, is at bedtime when I am closing the door and say, "I love you Luke. See you in the morning." Your response? "I don't love you Mama. I won't see you in the morning." Last week I walked into your room in the morning and you cried for ten minutes because you thought I shut the door. I am sure the teen years are even worse, because when you tell me you hate me you'll probably mean it, but it feels like I am living with a tiny 13 year old. Nothing is ever right. Nothing will ever be right and everything I do makes you very angry. You might as well say, "You never let me do anything!" slam your door and turn on some terrible music that will give me a headache. Actually, you started asking for the Polar Express song again and you do slam your door, so we've got two out of the three already. Who needs 13 when you've got three?

It's not all gloom and doom every minute of the day even though it feels like it some days. You finally totally understood Halloween this year and could not wait to get into your costume and go trick or treating. You are still talking about it weeks later. You were Thing One from the Cat in the Hat and everyone kept asking, "Who is going to be Thing Two?" Luckily your dad stepped into the role with a helpful sign reading, "Thing 2" the night of Halloween. You also dressed up for Red Butte Garden's After Dark Halloween event and had the most magical amazing time running through the twilight with your friends. The other week we took you to a model train show, which you could not get enough of. Your father and I were fairly certain that we were the only registered Democrats in the building given the number of Tea Party conversations we overheard, but you had an amazing time and managed to keep your sticky little fingers off of most of the trains most of the time.

Thanksgiving was a few days ago and you spent some time this week at home and at school talking about what you were thankful for although I am not sure you totally grasped the meaning of the word. You reported that at school you said you were thankful for the bikes. At home you said you were thankful for me, Dad, Buddy and the chickens, but I am fairly certain that came from the fact I told you I was thankful for those same things. You also said you were thankful for "all the food," but I know that came from your Thanksgiving plate from Pottery Barn Kids printed with those same words. I think that you love us most of the time ins spite of your behavior to the contrary. You are an incredibly outgoing friendly kiddo and are rarely shy except when asked to sing your Turkey song from school; then you clam up immediately.
But a lot of our conversations are about the same topics and you repeat the same greetings and goodbye routines verbatim every morning and evening. The night we drove home from Thanksgiving with friends and your dad and I were chatting about the party and what a nice evening it had been. We were above the city and the valley was filled with twinkling lights and some houses already shone with Christmas lights. Suddenly you piped up from the backseat, "I like both your voices." My eyes filled with tears because I could not at that moment think of anything I was more thankful for than driving in the car through the beautiful night with you and Dad and hearing that sweet completely spontaneous comment from you.

12 November 2011

Three Years. 1095 Days. 36 months.

Luke, you are three! Three! After months and months of talking about it endlessly and telling everyone and everybody that your birthday is October 19th and that right now you are two but on October 19th you will be three, October 19th finally did arrive and at 7.00 on the dot, you banged on your door and yelled, "MAMA!!! I got up at seven-zero-zero!" and I went downstairs and gave you a big hug and said, "Happy Birthday Little Bear!" You got to watch two episodes of Curious George instead of your usual one as a birthday treat and then you went to school all dressed up because picture day corresponded nicely with your birthday. We took apple slices and honey and caramel (caramel SAUCE you were quick to remind me each time I mentioned it) for dipping as a birthday snack treat for your class and then I drove around doing errands while you were at school all day reflecting on how very different my life was from three years ago on that day.

I wrote about your birth here. I re-read it from time to time and it seems like a lifetime ago and simultaneously thirty seconds ago . You now do all these things I could not even begin to imagine you doing three years ago. You talk. I know you have been talking for ages and ages, but you talk all the time about everything and anything. I know you don't know every word in the world, but it feels like you have the words for everything you need in your little world. You walk. I know you have been walking forever, but now you run, hop, try to skip (it's more like a gallop) and climb the ladder at the playground with an ease you seem to have possessed forever but it's really only been about a month. You eat. You use a fork and a spoon most of the time and the only meal that really created a complete mess is still mac n' cheese, which always correlates directly with bath night. Shh, don't tell anyone but you don't get a bath every night. Dirt is good for you.

I cannot grasp all that you have taken in over the last three years. Three years sounds like such a long time, but it skipped by in a flash. In three years I learned enough to pass the Utah Bar. In three years you have learned your numbers, colors and letters, how to smile, put yourself to sleep, and almost get dressed. You know that the clock says 7.00 a.m., how to spoon tomatoes into jars for canning, how to use an iPad, an iPhone and any other device that requires tapping a screen, how to dig in the garden, carry an egg without squeezing it too hard, how to feed Buddy his dog food, load the dryer and help me sort clothes. You finally worked up the courage to ride on an animal on the carousel at the Zoo and you can climb into the car and into your carseat by yourself. You know how to give the best hugs and huge smacking kisses on our cheeks. You memorize books after reading them once or twice and you tell people you are good when they ask, "how are you?" You remember to say please, thank you, you’re welcome and excuse me most of the time. You constantly amaze me. I am in awe of how much you have accomplished and figured out on your own.

You are mind-bogglingly stubborn. You have a very clear sense of what you want in life. You will hold out for fifteen, twenty, thirty minutes in hopes of getting what you want even if I have made it clear I am not going to give in. You can be very bossy. You tell me all the time that I have to do something. You get upset with your teachers sometimes if they aren't singing the song that you wanted. You often try to "help" your classmates (whom you call "your kids") with things they don't want help with. But you also, so your teachers told me at you parent-teacher conference, are a leader and the kids look up to you. My heart burst with pride when I heard this. But more importantly, they told me you are an exceptionally happy kid and this made me so very happy. Your father’s and my greatest wish for you is to be happy in your life and to be happy with who you are and with those around you. To know that you are happy gives me hope that somehow between all of the timeouts, the lectures, the frustrations and the battles, we are doing something right. We are giving you a home that you love and where you are safe and secure and content. We are trying so hard to be good parents and hopefully you know that in the last three years, it is you who have given your parents the greatest gift - we are so very lucky to be your parents. We love you little bear.

17 October 2011

34/35 - Remembering Again

This post is not going to write itself and that's just the plain hard truth. A massive case of writer’s block, malaise and fall preserving insanity has taken hold and I find it harder and harder each day to find the time or the will to write. I also have so many months to cover that I fear this post will jump from topic to topic with few transitions. I wish that I could carry the computer around and write while we take our post-dinner bike ride around the neighborhood. I remember holding you as a tiny baby on the last warm days of October after we came home from the hospital and seeing the neighborhood kids riding their bikes around and thinking that that would be pretty cool when you could join in. Now many nights after you have taken three bites of your dinner if you don't like it, or demolished three helpings of mac n' cheese, you jump onto your little strider bike and we stroll around the neighborhood with the other parents and kids out enjoying these last lingering days of summer even though it is technically autumn. I soak in the sunshine and everything seems right with the world because the only disagreement we usually have is whether we are going to turn left or right and that's pretty easy to deal with. You love being on your bike and I can see how much you are going to love the freedom of a two wheeler once you learn how to ride a real "big kid bike," because it is that same thrill of freedom I felt when my parents allowed me to ride my bike more than one block away from our house.

You started preschool at the beginning of September after five long weeks of being home with me. I think you were pretty excited to start just because you were heartily sick of hanging out with me day after day. We went on lots of adventures - hikes, trips to Red Butte Gardens, the pool, your friends' houses where your friends' mothers and I would sigh and compare stories of how much our children were driving us nuts and just how many days it was again before school started. And then suddenly, it was the night before school started and I marked the occasion with a cupcake and we sat on the front step and talking about how your new teachers were going to teach you lots of things like how to “dance” and “make art with my hands.”
You have rough days during which you absolutely refuse to nap and "push a lot of boundaries," according to your teachers, but you have somewhat settled into your school routine and usually love it. I am constantly amazed at how much you are learning. You come home singing a new song every day, but you usually reply to my queries about what you did that day by responding, "Nothing. I just sat there." Did you play with your friends? "No, I just sat there.” This makes your dad and me laugh.

After months of bickering with you in the car about music, I stumbled into the strange realization that you love 70's music. I randomly played Creedance Clearwater Revival's "Have You Ever Seen The Rain," for you one day and you were hooked. We listened to it no fewer than fifty times in a week before I thought to punch in CCR to Pandora Radio and voila, music we can both listen to. The other morning American Pie came on the radio - a song that my sisters and friends and I would dance to endlessly when we were small, complete with a choreographed dance that our poor parents had to suffer through on many occasions. I am sure my father cursed the day he ever introduced us to that eight minute and thirty-two second song, because while it is awesome to listen to in the car, it was probably rather mind numbing to watch ten year olds stumble through a dance routine time after time after time. No matter, you finally love singing and dancing at school and when you danced in your car seat this morning to that classic song, I felt a little teary as I always do when you love things that I loved as a kid. I think that connection of my childhood to yours feels incredibly special and I don't really know how to find the words to describe that.

Outside the leaves are changing in the mountains and small spots of yellow can be seen in some of the trees on the streets of our neighborhood. Winter ticks ever closer and I am holding onto the last golden days for as long as I can. I know, however, that when our lawn is covered in snow and the trees stand bare against a very dismal grey sky, I am going to think back to August and our trip to Squam Lake in New Hampshire. We had not been to the lake since I was nearly eight months pregnant with you and you instantly fell in love with it. You insisted on having the curtains on your bedroom windows open so you could see the lake during your nap and at bedtime. You spent day after day wading in up to your waist to throw hundreds of rocks into the water and learning to fish with your very first fishing rod. You learned how to cast pretty quickly and your dad and I had a hard time not crying over how proud we were. You loved going on boat rides, squealing when we went fast and pointing out every single "Slow No Wake" buoy when we had to slow down. We took you to the boy's camp that fronts the lake because I have this crazy hope that you will want to go there six years from now when you are eight just like your uncles did when they were young. We walked around the camp and I could just begin to envision you there running around with this pack of boys. Your favorite thing was the tetherball and when you had a hard time pushing the ball, some much older boys came to your aid, showing you how to play. It was such a sweet and kind gesture and I hoped that when you were older that you could show such kindness to a younger kid.

I am finally finishing this post on flight to Massachusetts to attend a wedding of a dear friend from Smith. Whenever I mention Smith, you ask me how to spell it, just as you ask me how to spell most things these days. The other day I think I spelled cat, mighty machine, bulldozer, black, green, red, school, apple and truck all in the span of a minute. I was a terrible speller in school but this constant spelling bee may be a benefit to both of us. Luckily, you haven't started asking me how to spell xylophone or supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

This is the second trip I have taken without you and your dad. The absolute thrill of sitting on an airplane and reading three New Yorkers in succession instead of being interrupted by you harassing fellow passengers, arguing with you about not touching the window shade or hissing threats that for-the-last-goddamned-time-stop-kicking-the-chair-in-front-of-you feels as relaxing as a day spa. But this happiness is mitigated by the fact that I miss you and your dad horribly. What is it about sitting on a plane, train or any other form of public transportation, my earphones clapped my head as vintage REM plays that makes me instantly feel as if I am watching a movie of my life - removed from the everyday sameness, suddenly everything seems wondrous and precious and all senses are heightened. Somehow all the things that drive me insane about parenthood slip away and I am left with only a sweet home video playing through my head of you laughing as your dad says something funny or you hugging me tightly as you tell me you are going to miss me so much while I am gone. Where does that wonder go when I am in the thick of it with you? This same dreamy feeling of flying high above the earth, the music loud in my ears, makes me ache with love for you and I think again of checking on you last night before I left. There you were sprawled across the bed, your stuffed animal, Lion, tucked under your arm and so peaceful and so perfect in every possible way that I again immediately forgave all the flaws of the day and could only hope that you will forgive me mine.

02 September 2011

34 Months

I took August off last year. I think I'll do it again this year even though it is already September. In the meantime, here are some of my favorite posts from the last almost three (!) years.

Nine Oh Nine!


25 Months

29 is for giving thanks

03 August 2011

33 months. Time Out.

A few weeks ago we made it 33 months into this joint venture of parenthood/childhood. You were sick with some sad little summer cold that made your voice quite hoarse and you ran screaming in the opposite direction if I so much as suggested that you might want to blow your nose. It sort of summed up the month nicely.

Here's what you do these days. You loved the little poppers on the Fourth of July and threw them by the handful. You hated the bigger fireworks and watched them from the dining room window. At the park you climb the ladders and find rocks to roll down the slide. You slide down the slides without a moment's hesitation, which is so different then even six months ago when you would stand at the top dithering and fretting over whether to come down or not. Now you drag trucks and cars to the top of the slides, send them roaring down and follow hot on their heels. You pick up more rocks and toss them at the slide looking at me out of the corner of your eye waiting for me to say no. When there aren't any other kids at the park I let it go. It is very hard for me to let things go and I'm trying. Really trying hard. It's not easy.

You negotiate all the time. I say, "please take your trains downstairs," and you immediately counter with, "How about I leave them upstairs?" You actually use the phrase, "How about." It floors me.

Your musical tastes are slowly evolving into something that I can live with and I had an incredibly proud moment the other day when you asked me for, "The train rolling down the track song. Johnny Cash." We then listened to Folsom Prison Blues on repeat until I had to turn it off for fear you would make me dislike that classic. You danced like a crazy person at the Josh Riter show at Red Butte the other week, which was actually the last time we are ever going to take you to a Red Butte show because it was such a nightmare to keep track of you running through the dark at the outdoor show. It pains me because I loved taking you to shows in the past and some of my sweetest memories are of you and your dad at Red Butte but you make things so difficult that sometimes it is not worth it.

What an awful thing to say.

I don't like to sugar coat things on this blog. I know this little forum has morphed from letters to you to broader reflections on parenthood and sometimes I write things here that I am not sure I want you reading until you are much older and able to understand that while I love you, you also drive me crazy. Really and truly crazy. So I'm just going to come right out and say this because it seems like it is such a terrible thing to say and a lot of parents don't for fear they are going to be branded the worst parents in the world. Parenting is very hard work and you know what, sometimes I'm not all that fond of you. Sometimes I don't like you very much. Sometimes you are like the awful employee at work that burns popcorn in the microwave so that everyone can smell the hideousness for days afterwards. You are willful and you hit things and you talk back to me and you throw yourself to the ground and freak out over the most minor of supposed infractions, like I didn't hold you up the right way so that you can turn on the ceiling fan. Or I offered you milk first thing in the morning instead of turning on the light. Or I didn't pour the exact right amount of juice into your cup. Perhaps these are the beginnings of some serious OCD tendencies or maybe you are just two going on three. Whatever it is, I can see already that the therapy bill is going to go through the roof in this next year. You make me insane and you know you make me insane and you relish that power.

I think the thing that bothers me the most is that so often your mood mars what is supposed to be a fun outing for our family. (see: Red Butte concert mentioned above) I know you are two. I understand that and I guess I am supposed to also understand that you have little to no self control and therefore are a victim of your own two-ness and I am supposed to be okay with that. Only, I'm not. I don't think it would kill you to show a little gratitude. I know, I'm being ridiculous but honestly, you make it so hard sometimes.

So there, I said it. I said the stuff you aren't supposed to say. I said I don't like you and you'll read this someday and maybe you'll head to your therapist but hopefully by that time you'll have a kid or two of your own and maybe sometimes you won't like them very much. But this doesn't mean I don't love you. I spend a lot of time telling you these days that even though I yell that I still love you no matter what and that I'll always love you even when you have made me angry or frustrated. And you break my heart by prompting me to say, "Sorry I yelled." And I apologize and then sometimes you do too. It's hard. Things are tough for us right now and I don't see that changing anytime soon. It must be difficult to live under such authoritarian rule all the time but sometimes I feel like I am living with a very small dictator of my own.

So, here is something to lighten the mood. Your dad and I nearly fell on the floor laughing. And no, you cannot watch this until much much later because you repeat everything I say these days and I don't want you going to camp and repeating this montage.

Yesterday we went on a small hike around a lake up in the mountains with some friends. I took you on the same hike exactly a year ago and I couldn't believe how much faster we made it around the lake this year; even with you stopping to throw rocks into mud puddles and to climb with no hesitation on the bigger rocks that lined the trail. You exclaimed over the ducks and I breathed in the warm piney air and marveled for the thousandth time that I live in a place so beautiful. You looked with fascination at the people fishing and declared that you also needed a fishing pole and your dad was quite happy when you told him that later in the day. Then we got back in the car and turned on the Wagon Wheel song, which you call the Train Wheel song even though there is no mention of trains. We rolled down the windows and headed back down through the most gorgeous canyon bordered on either side by towering mountains covered in pine trees and a massive creek running next to the road still flowing like a wild river from the winter snows. I sang softly to myself and you danced in your car seat and then declared that you love the mountains. My throat constricted and I replied simply, "I love you."

29 June 2011

32 - The Past is Present

I am trying so hard to make this month's post work, which is probably why it is now more than a week overdue and I am still waiting for everything to coalese into something workable. The largest segments of these posts usually come when I am running around the gym track or lying in bed early in the morning unable to sleep because I know I need to write and then that month's post just suddenly writes itself and I rush to the computer and type quickly to get it all down so I can start the editing process. Editing is so much more enjoyable when you have a nice long post to comb through. Why is this month so hard to write? I have had all these thoughts swirling in my head for weeks and yet I cannot seem to make them come out correctly on the screen. Perhaps it is because the pendulum between your emotions and mine seem to swing so wildly from hour to hour and day to day. The moment to sit down and write comes and goes too quickly for me to capture it into something pleasant to read instead of a screed against all toddlers and their insane and awful behavior. We are starting to see glimpses of you at three years old, even though it is still five months away, and I will just say that I am very very afraid. It's ugly. It's all the annoyances of two but stripped of any of the charm of two. I spend a lot of times these days apologizing for losing my temper and talking with you about how much better life would be if you just stopped and listened to me. Five minutes later you are ignoring me again and I am saying, "Luke, how many times do I have to ask you not to do this?" You always answer, "One." Then I go off in a corner and scream.

Maybe you are acting crazier because your brain is going about ten thousand miles per hour all the time. In the last month you have shown a marked interest in letters and how to spell things, spurred on in large part by your newest love: the show Word World. You are so into it and I totally support your love because it is so much less annoying than Thomas. You are learning new words all the time and trying to spell them with your magnetic letters on the fridge. We help you spell the word DUCK and for some reason you always want to tack on the letter L to the front so it spells LDUCK. Very French of you.

However, your adoration of Thomas - while somewhat diminished when watching television - continues unabated in other parts of your life. We took you to see an actual real life sized Thomas engine up in Heber over Memorial Day weekend. The day was memorable in two respects. 1) We woke up to snow that morning and 2) it was truly the happiest I have ever seen you in your entire young life. You were so excited walking towards the Thomas engine that you practically levitated off the ground squealing, "Oh! Thomas! Oh! Thomas!" Your dad and I had tears in our eyes and could barely speak because it was so gratifying to see you that happy. Then we walked around the exhibits and you discovered a tent filled with four train tables complete with dozens and dozens of trains. Perfect happiness achieved for you and about 50 other kids crammed into the tent.

We drive around a lot these days and you often ask for the Train Song - i.e. the theme song from the Polar Express - which I generally deny on the grounds that Tom Hanks yelling a song at me can only do great damage to my fragile mental state. However, I always acquiesce immediately to your request for The Race Story - also known as Atalanta, the story of the girl who ties Young John From The Town (for that is how I see his name in my head and it always my sisters' voices saying it in perfect imitation of a very young Alan Alda) in the race to determine her future. The story is, of course, from Free To Be You And Me, a record (how strange that you will have absolutely no idea what a record is) that I listened to approximately 58 billion times when I was young. The first time I played the title song from the album, now nicely downloaded onto my iphone, I broke down in tears. You did too because you were about nine months old and hated all new music. But you have grown - or maybe I have forced you - to love some of the stories and I absolutely love that when Alan Alda says, "And the runners...were OFF!" you cheer and immediately pretend to be running a race in your car seat. It is the only time I allow you to kick the back of the passenger seat because really, you have to have some way to show that you are running a race. It's all very exciting but I always get a thrill when you love the same things I loved when I was a kid. I love that there is a place in your childhood for the same things that I played with when I was a child and that so many more things wait in the wings for you - Charlotte's Web, Henry and Ribsy, jumping off the diving board at the pool, riding your bike around the block, sleepovers and camping trips, s'mores and staying up past your bedtime on New Year's Eve and swinging all by yourself on the swing at the park.

A few weeks ago you finally started camp at the JCC and I had a huge lump in my throat as we walked in for the first time. I couldn't believe we had reached this point already. I remember very clearly looking through the camp information when you were about nine months old and your dad said, "Camp? That's years from now." And it was, but in a heartbeat two years ticked by and now at last you get to be a camper. We joined the JCC when you were just about five months old just so I could leave you at the day care and sit by myself for an hour a day. I would look at all these big kids coming in and out and dream of the day that you would join their ranks but also not able to picture you that old at all. And now three days a week you race into the building shouting hellos to anyone who will listen to you.

Why do these things make me cry? Is it the passage of time? The fact that you are old enough to go to camp? The unbearable sweetness of you in your little shorts and tee shirt and Keens? The fact that you are joining this community of campers at the JCC that has been going for decades and are now a part of that great tide of children seems so amazing because you are slowly taking your place in this world? It is probably a combination of all these things along with a hazy vision of what I want your childhood summers to be: fun, carefree, perhaps an occasional disappointment like the library doesn't have the book you want, popsicles from the ice cream truck, filled with friends and sprints through the sprinklers in the backyard. I want you to be part of this community that stretches back decades and will continue for decades. Your father and I both belonged to similar clubs, swam on similar swim teams, went to similar camps (OK, he went to Space Camp. I never did that) but we left all of those ties behind when we left our hometowns. Will you be different? Will you continue to return to Salt Lake City to your friends and family? Will your children swim in the same pool? Go to the same camp? Will you put down roots in your parents adopted home? I have a secret wish that you will but I suppose most parents have the same wish.

The first day of camp you were so excited that you kept telling me the names of your teachers and that they were going to say hello to you when you got there and within moments of walking onto the playground it was as if you had always been there. When I left you were sitting on a tricycle and you called back to me as you attempted to push the pedals, "have a good day Mama!" As I drove away that morning I could see the bigger kids cheering as their own first day of camp started and the cheers followed me up the hill and around the corner and just like that another piece of your childhood clicked into place.

20 May 2011

31 Months - Dad is Awesome.

I started writing this post in my head yesterday afternoon because I thought it would be cathartic because you took a thirty minute nap and after that thirty minutes of blessed silence I walked into your room (you alerted me to being up by banging very loudly on your door) and found you had torn down your curtain and broken the curtain rod in the process. I tried counting to ten. I tried deep breaths but really, I was so angry. Angry that it was clear you had never gone to sleep. Angry that it was raining for the fourth morning in a row and I couldn't get you outside so you could run around and burn off some energy because you are part dog. Angry that you would do something so destructive and then have the gall to laugh at me when I walked into the room. So I took the offending curtain and rod out of your room, told you to get on your bed and then said, "Timeout." Even after those two minutes ticked by I was still so angry that I took the time to tell you how disappointed I was in you. You spent the rest of the afternoon telling me that I was very disappointed in you. That really made me feel better.

The rain stopped for approximately an hour so I took you up to Red Butte Gardens in the hopes of getting you to run around (see dog comment above) and we did get some fresh air but even a trip to Red Butte, which usually cheers me up immediately was punctuated by moments of wanting to scream at the top of my lungs as you pushed my every last button. Just when I thought I couldn't take another second, you sidled up to me and said, "you are my best friend mama." This is not a new or particularly original take on parenthood. Every parent knows that all too familiar feeling of wanting to walk away in a cloud of frustrated tears one moment and wanting to die of the cuteness the next. It is impossible to keep being angry when you are being so sweet but it is so hard not to get angry the next moment when you are disobeying me once again. Staying in the sweet moment is so difficult.

But somehow the Mothers' Day commercials made me cry even more this year than usual. I realized as I surreptitiously wiped away tears when the commercials played on the television at the gym and tried to make an escaped sob sound like I was working out even harder that I am more of a mother this year than I was three years ago; so much more and I have so many more miles to go. I carry many more battle scars and have so many more stories from the frontlines than I used to. But I have also learned - and continue to learn and remind myself sometimes on a minute by minute basis - that no matter how many times I roll my eyes and curse the clock that it is five hours until bedtime I will make it through another day. The tantrum will pass, bedtime will come and I will get up the next day and the next and the next and much of it will all stay the same but so much has changed and will continue to change. You go to sleep on your own, you are starting to learn how to get yourself dressed and are ecstatic when you can get your shirt on without my help. You can "read" entire books to us and get upset when we try to read them to you. You are an amazing talker and can usually tell me what you do and do not want to do in no uncertain terms. You even swear sometimes in perfect context. If I am annoyed and say, "Are you kidding me?" you will sometimes supply a "Goddamn it," delivered in a breathy tone. I try not to react and remind myself again that I must stop swearing around you. It is so hard.

Do I fall down on the job? Dial it in? Let you watch another episode of Thomas when I should sit down and play with you? Yes, absolutely. But do I wish I was working and feel unfulfilled in my role as your mother, guardian, teacher, kisser of hurts, dictator and enforcer of rules? No. You have allowed me to be a mother and without you I would not be the person I am today and I mostly like the mother I have become.

So, in spite of all the things you do to annoy me - surely not on purpose right? - I found myself sobbing on the way to the airport last week as I prepared to leave you and your dad for the first time since you were born. Your father was a nervous wreck and I was suddenly wondering why in heaven's name I thought that leaving for five days was a good idea. But the trip was great for a variety of reasons, an excellent one being that you seemed to finally discover what a fantastic playmate your dad can be and you are head over heels in love with him. For the longest time I don't think you counted him as someone to play with and now whenever I tell you that I cannot do something that very moment, you turn to your dad and say, "c'mon Dad! c'mon! Come downstairs with me!" And when you get up at some ungodly hour (it was 6.30 this morning) you come upstairs and ask, "Where's Dad? Can we go see Dad?" I explain to you that your father is resting and deserves a good night's sleep before having to deal with annoying lawyers all day and this pacifies you for awhile but you squeal with delight when he walks into the living room. You have a new best friend and it makes me so happy. And so while your dad held down the fort at home, I went to New York and to my 15 year college reunion at Smith where I wandered the campus in a bittersweet daze smiling at the graduates and their parents and being simultaneously grateful I had my life at home to return to and longing for the days when I was 18 and life was pretty damned easy. However, one of absolute best parts of the entire trip was talking on the phone with you, which is something I've never been able to do before because you recently learned how a phone works. You got on and the sound of your sweet voice saying, "Hi Mama! This is my train Mama! This is the toy bus Dad gave me Mama! I love you Mama! I miss you Mama," just about killed me. I sat in that empty dorm room and realized that even if I could have the chance to go back to being 18 and young and carefree, I wouldn't take it because my life is infinitely better with you and your dad and that realization was the best Mother's Day gift I could receive.

28 April 2011

30 Take Two

This is a late post but that seems appropriate since we are late to everything these days, which drives me nuts. I hate being late. I once yelled at one of my sisters when she fell off her bike on the way to school because her bleeding knee was making us late. Not my finest moment. But time has no meaning for you. You know that you are not supposed to get up until 7.00 but this does not stop you from calling for me from anywhere between 6.15 and 6.45 so I go downstairs and get into bed with you and the next 15 to 45 minutes go something like this.

You: Mama! I want to look in your ear. I want to be a doctor.

Me: Luke. Lie down and be quiet. It isn't 7.00

Blessed silence for 15 seconds

You: Mama! I need some water!

Me: Your water is next to your bed on the floor.

You: Ohhh! Yes! I love water. Water. Water. Water. Mama, want some water?

Me: No, thank you.

You: Want some? Want some? Mama, wantsome?Wantsome?Wantsome?Wantsome?Wantsome?

Me: No, thank you Luke. Thank you for asking. I really don't want any water. I want you to lie down and be quiet.

Repeat until 7.00

You: Oh! It's seven zero zero! It's time to get up! Mama! Yeaahhh! Mama! It's time to get up. C'mon Mama. C'mon. Let's go!

Me: OK, time to get up. Do you want to use the potty?

You: No thank you.

Exit stage left. Go upstairs. Start heated discussion over who will pour the milk out of the very heavy glass milk container.

In spite of your rush to get up in the morning, you seem to be in no hurry whatsoever to get out the door. There are many pitched battles over getting dressed, putting on your jacket, walking up the stairs, deciding which door we will actually use to exit the house, opening the driveway gate, getting down the driveway to the car and then the ordeal of getting into the car. You can now climb into your car seat by yourself, which is great because it is less strain on my back but it's quite a process for you and if I try to hurry you, you insist on starting the entire ritual again from the beginning. I am sure our neighbors hate us for the number of times they have had to listen to you have a breakdown in the driveway. They may also hate us soon because we finally got chickens and the chickens will move outside in a month.

After talking about it for such a long time, we finally took the plunge and got five tiny baby chicks. Your friend Leta and Marlo's (or as you refer to them: Yeeta and Marwoe) mother, whom you now always refer to as Mrs. Armstrong (which pleases me and cracks me up) documented it much better than I could. You can read about our first day with the chickens here. You didn't end up naming any of the chickens because you still don't get the concept of naming things even though I tried to explain it to you about five dozen times. The naming aside, you love the chickens and love to talk to them and hold them. Your favorite is Maisie and she is pretty tolerant of you yelling in her face, "She's a little bit nervous Mama!"

My computer broke a few weeks ago. It was starting to get a little shaky with the screen flickering off and on for no apparent reason although I have my suspicions as to who the culprit might be of the "liquid damage," that finally caused the computer screen to switch to grey permanently. In any case, I spent a few weeks fretting and trying not to freak out over the fact that I might have lost every last picture I had taken of you in the last two and half years. When my new computer arrived and we were able to transfer everything off of the external hard drive and all those pictures popped back up I cried I was so relieved. I might have cried because I was so tired from all the sleep I had lost worrying about the photos but I also cried because to lose all those would have been the absolute worst. Another added bonus was that my phone finally backed up properly and I was able to download all the video I have taken of you for the last year or so.

Looking through all these videos made me cry even more because there is nothing like watching a video of your child to make you momentarily forget all the things that make you want to pull your hair out. In the two and half years since you were born you have imprinted yourself on my heart like the way my wedding ring has imprinted my ring finger. You are so much a part of my life, of my every breath that I find it impossible to imagine life without you. If I am out driving around and I see a firetruck I wish that you were there to see it too. I cannot read stories or see shows depicting children being hurt without the story immediately becoming the story of you being hurt. I feel like I cannot breath imagining you in the same situation. I have dreams about you falling into water, dreams of you being eaten by alligators and I wake up terrified that something has happened to you. I don't really live every moment in fear but the dreams come or the random thought drifts across my mind or I read a story of some terrible thing befalling some young child and I think, there but for the grace of God go I. At the end of the day when we are lying in bed before you go to sleep and you are telling me all the things you are going to dream about (triangles, whales, the ocean, steam engines, one car, two cars and mamas and dads) you sometimes spontaneously say, "you're the best mama in the world," and all the other unbearable stuff becomes bearable again.

So here is a snapshot of you and your life over the last year.

21 April 2011

30 Take One

You are two and a half and I have some lovely ideas rolling around my head but I cannot seem to commit them to the page. I promise not to miss this month though because you say all sorts of hilarious things now like after I asked you about singing a song about Jesus you learned at school, you pointed to my wine and said, "Jesus is in the wine." I replied that he might be but that you could figure that out for yourself in a few years. Oy vey. Time to get you to the JCC preschool.

22 March 2011

29 is for giving thanks

I don't even know where to begin this month. Do I talk about the fact that I have signed you up for summer camp or that you are now sleeping in an actual twin bed, a bed you may very well be sleeping in until you go to college? I went to check on you last night and there you were sleeping in your "big boy bed kinda like Caillou's" with a headboard and I couldn't believe that 29 months ago you were a teeny little newborn swaddled and looking minuscule in the middle of your crib. Now you have about four or five blankets, a real pillow and two stuffed animals that you only pay attention to at bedtime. You are becoming more and more of a little kid.

Do I talk about the fact that you chatter the days away asking us "What is that?" over and over and over again, which is a kind of backtracking to when you were 16 months old when you would walk around the neighborhood asking , "et's dat?" all the time. You have improved your pronunciation as well as your retort when I tell you what that particular thing is. "Luke, that's a lemur." You respond with, "Yes mama, that is a lemur," as if you were the one telling me what it is. You are really funny about wanting us to fill in the script of what you think our conversations should sound like. You prompt me by saying, "What sound does that animal make?" I then have to ask you the same question and you happily respond. This goes hand in hand with you thinking that asking for something politely makes it a foregone conclusion that you will receive it. "Cupcake? Please? OK." is a favorite.

It is hard for me to talk about your accomplishments this month because world events came storming into our lives a few weeks ago and we still seem to be reeling from them. Your dad had to go to Japan for business; he has gone to Japan no fewer than four times in the last three years so this is becoming a fairly normal part of our lives and this trip didn't seem as if it would be any different. It was a tough week for him to be gone because you got really really sick the night before he left and then proceeded to stay sick the entire week and ended up finally on antibiotics for strep throat. It was a long week.

And then just as your dad was going to board his plane in Tokyo, an enormous earthquake hit Japan. It was very very big and hurt and killed thousands of people. He texted me from the plane saying he was okay and then the waiting game of seeing whether he would actually get out of Japan started, all the while stories of a tsunami and terrible destruction started filling the news, the internet, the television and I had to shut them all off and just hope with every fiber of my being that his plane was going to take off. And it did. And it was a miracle. You and I met him at the airport that night (so did the local news) and I have never felt so relieved in my life and I still am swimming in relief. I want to hold you both closer and closer and even as the mundane details of our lives go on, I feel sick every time my mind drifts again into the what-ifs. What if he wasn't on that plane? What if he had been running late and not made it to the airport at all? What if the pilot had made everyone get off the plane instead of being brave and taking off, taking your father far far away from the disaster? What if he was still stuck there unable to get home to us? What if? I cannot bring myself to say the worst.

Two days after he got home the weather warmed up again as it has been doing in fits and starts over the last couple of weeks. A massive snowstorm hit a few weeks ago and we got a foot of snow. Two days later it was gone. But that Sunday was glorious and your dad went and got a new cherry tree to plant in the garden. It occurs to me now that it was particularly apt that we should plant a cherry tree since Japan is so famous for its cherry blossoms. A small unconscious decision that I am probably giving greater weight to now than it deserves. But I am glad we have that little tree. It is good to have reminders of the events that made you realize again how very lucky you are. While he watered it and started to clear out the dead winter leaves out of the herb beds, you practiced walking along the wood border of the berry patch saying, "look at me dad! look at me!" I had never been so happy to be in the garden as at that moment.

I hope the cherry blossoms bloom in Japan this spring. I hope that country can heal. I hold you and your father even closer now and try to cherish more moments more often. This passage from the movie Stranger Than Fiction has rolled through my head many times since your father got home. It seemed so very pertinent this month. Over and over and over I come back to these small moments that make up our lives together and I know I write about them a great deal but I do not know how else to chart the days. Long after so many other memories of your childhood have faded from my mind, I will remember you running to greet your dad at the airport when he came home. I will remember crying with relief as the three of us stood there holding each other. My little family. Three people does not sound all that significant but it is your hand slipping into mine as we walk through the garden, your father kissing me goodnight as I drowse into sleep, us going to breakfast on Sundays, you observing that Buddy is sleeping in a dramatic whisper, your dad planting that cherry tree in the newly thawed soil, your utter delight in watching the garlic come up that makes up my world and makes it richer and better than it ever could have been without you; this mosaic of a million bazillion tiny moments creating our family portrait.

"As Harold took a bite of Bavarian sugar cookie, he finally felt as if everything was going to be ok. Sometimes, when we lose ourselves in fear and despair, in routine and constancy, in hopelessness and tragedy, we can thank God for Bavarian sugar cookies. And, fortunately, when there aren't any cookies, we can still find reassurance in a familiar hand on our skin, or a kind and loving gesture, or subtle encouragement, or a loving embrace, or an offer of comfort, not to mention hospital gurneys and nose plugs, an uneaten Danish, soft-spoken secrets, and Fender Stratocasters, and maybe the occasional piece of fiction. And we must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties, which we assume only accessorize our days, are effective for a much larger and nobler cause. They are here to save our lives. I know the idea seems strange, but I also know that it just so happens to be true. And so it was that a wristwatch saved Harold Crick."

-Stranger Than Fiction

21 February 2011

28 is pretty great

A lot of friends and family touted two as the dreamy year; all cuteness and cuddles and sweetness and for a long time I thought they were just flat out lying or that their children were far more adorable, sweet and cuddle-worthy than you. And then about a week before Christmas you started slowly emerging from the months long terror that was 25-26.5 months and you have continued in this vein of pretty damned tolerable for awhile. I'm not going to lie and say it is peaches and cream and loveliness all the time but this month has been one that I could potentially look back on in say, 15 years, and say, "Yeah, two wasn't so bad." I will most likely say this to a mother of a two-year-old who will probably want to beat me senseless because when people who don't have toddlers say, "Oh, that is such a FUN age," they have most likely completely forgotten what rotten little buggers two year olds can be. But, in 15 years you will be 17 and I'll probably be longing for the days when our worst battles were over whether you wanted your diaper changed or not.

Actually, you never want your diaper changed so really it's more like a battle of this is happening now whether you like it or not. I have started to ask you whether you want to do something the hard way or the easy way, explaining that the hard way will result in you crying and becoming really mad and that the easy way - i.e. my way - will be a much more pleasant outcome for us both. You consistently pick the easy way but this doesn't stop you from incurring a few timeout warnings along the way before you finally submit to my demands. I don't blame you for digging in your heels. If someone was as demanding of my time as I am of yours I would be pretty annoyed most of the time too. I mean, who wants to change a diaper when you could be watching The Cat in the Hat for the twentieth time? The Cat in the Hat is this month's newest love. I have absolutely no idea how you found out that the Cat in the Hat has a show on television - we don't even own the book - but somehow you found out about him. I suppose this is similar to you finding out about Dora the Explorer. We have not watched one minute of that show and yet you know who she is. School? Friends? The slow creep of pop culture into your life? Who knows.

A few weeks ago your dad and I got on an airplane without you and went to Mexico for a week leaving you behind with my parents, your beloved Nan and Charlie. As best as I could tell you had a marvelous week and didn't miss us at all, which is great because it means we can take more trips without you as long as the grandparents are willing to put up with your shenanigans. And the trip was wonderful. I think we slept for eleven hours straight the first night, which was the most sleep I have gotten in one night in over two years. And we got to fly without you climbing all over us and we got to walk through the airport like normal people not chasing you up and down stairs and we got to go out to dinner and not have to race through our meal before you got bored and we got to go to the pool and not worry about you falling in. All in all, a lovely week. But I missed you so much more than I thought I would and when we got home I could barely wait to see you and when you exclaimed, "Mama!' as I walked through the door I couldn't believe that I had actually forgotten how sweet your voice sounds. And then you started talking to us in complete sentences and we couldn't believe how much we had missed in one week. In fact you are talking so much now that I can understand 97% of what you say. The other day you actually started to tell me what you did at school that day without any prompting from me. It was a long description of eating pink cupcakes for a classmate's birthday and how you got pink cupcake all over your face. Cupcakes certainly deserve unprompted discussion.

So the trip was a success all around and the only thing different from this trip than our last trip to Mexico was that I didn't come home pregnant and that was a good thing too. I know you are far too young to understand now but I think perhaps I should tell you that you are not going to have any brothers or sisters. It seems like I should explain to you now, while I can somewhat coherently state our reasons, why your dad and I are not going to have any more children. I can imagine in four or five years you might ask us for a sibling and I might not be able to remember the reasons with the certainty I feel now.

First, you are perfect. OK, you aren't perfect, but you are one pretty great kid all things considered. You are sweet, funny, really smart and quite adorable to boot. You have your dad's gorgeous blue eyes and are a hilarious and sometimes frustrating combination of your parents' best and more questionable qualities. I am sure that if we had another kid he or she would be perfect in his or her own way as well, so there are other reasons why we want to keep our family the way it is now. We like our life with just you. We cannot imagine adding another kiddo to the mix because of the toll it would take on all of us - the sleepless nights, the juggling of two schedules, the rewinding back to square one of infanthood is more than we can imagine. This would all pass in time because time, obviously, does pass and babies grow up and become toddlers and teenagers but I fear the work that it would require of your dad and me would be too great a burden for us to bear. I fear, being a somewhat impatient person to begin with, that two children would make me a terrible mother to two children instead of just a pretty good mother to you. I know this is all speculation. People have two, three, four - and here in Utah - dozens of children all the time and they survive. They find a way to make it work and I am truly in awe of those parents. Maybe the second baby would be a perfect angel, sleeping consistently through the night from day one and sitting quietly on my lap for hours at a time. Or maybe not. We are not willing to take that chance. I recently started compiling a list of things I want to do in my life and so many of them involve you - taking you to Paris, going camping, fishing with you in Montana, dropping you off at college. To have another child would delay all of these things and while many people would argue that I should hold onto these precious moments with you as a little little boy, I am so excited to teach you things that you cannot do now. I cannot wait for your father to teach you how fly fish, how to chop an onion correctly, and how to grill the perfect steak. Having another child wouldn't keep us from doing that, but it would put it off by many years and I don't want to wait to involve you in our lives. Your dad and I have big exciting things to do with you and we cannot wait for you to be old enough to share in them.

Ultimately, perhaps, we are making a selfish choice. We are choosing our happiness over your potential happiness of having a sibling. We are, perhaps, depriving you of the joy of having a little brother or sister. So I can only hope that we have created and will continue to give you a good and happy childhood. I hope, and I suppose all parents hope, that you look back on your childhood with an overriding sense of joy and that it becomes the basis for what you might want for your children. We will fail you plenty of times. We will make mistakes and make decisions that you disagree with. You will probably make a list of things you will never do to your kids and then, maybe, realize with time that we were right in the end to make you stick to that curfew, eat those vegetables, finish your homework, try a new food, give you a timeout or keep you from playing violent video games because we thought that was probably in your best interest. I hope that someday you will know that we made this decision out of our love for you and our certainty that just having you made for the very best childhood we could give you.

Author's Note: I have read a lot of blog posts and articles about having one child and I hope that I have not inadvertently plagiarized anybody else's thoughts on having one kiddo. If I have, please accept my sincere apologies and let me know so I can give proper credit.

23 January 2011

You are 27 months old. No, that's my 27 months old.

I think I must have read somewhere at some point in time that for two year olds, "what's mine is mine and what's yours is also mine." I am going to put quotes around it because that cannot possibly have been an original thought from me. In the last month your possessiveness has grown to world domination levels. You claim everything as your own, including the zipper of your jacket, which you seem sure I am going to take from you. I have no interest in it other than zipping it up but you remain convinced that I am out to take everything from you. To be sure we have had a few wrestling matches over things that are definitely not yours - my pearl necklace for one; a really sharp pencil that you somehow purloined off my desk for another. I turned around the other day and realized now that you are tall enough to put your cup on the counter you can also pull a lot of stuff off of it too. I fully expect to find you standing in the cabinets soon.

Along with "mine" is your ongoing love affair with the word no. You use it in place of not, isn't or any other word that might be the opposite of an affirmative word. So most conversations with you sound like this:

"Luke, are you going to school today?"
"No go to school today."

"Are you going to see your friends there?"
"No see my friends."

"Is Alice your friend?"
"No Alice friend."

"OK, well let's go inside now!"
"No let's go inside!"

"Can you show me the sign for first down"
"No show me sign for first down."

No go to bed
No I sleepy
No I pick up toys right now

And on and on and on.

Rounding out the triumvirate of favorite toddler phrases is your need for immediate action. You have become so tyrannical about your demands that I have considered getting a little coat like Napoleon's so that you can march around and issue your edicts in style. If I deign to lie down on your teeny little bed after you have again gotten up at 6.00 a.m. you march back into the room and yell, "Mama! Wake Up!" If I respond by telling you that my eyes are open and I am speaking to you and so I must be fully awake, you then yank off the blankets and say, "Mama! Get Up!" Please be advised that I am filing all this away for future payback when you are fifteen years old.

Christmas was less than a month ago but it already feels like six months ago. You loved all of your Thomas items and are still asking to hear the Train Song from The Polar Express every time we get into the car. I finally drew the line the day after 12th Night and declared that Christmas and Christmas songs are over. This has not stopped you from asking for the song nor from discussing how you are going to take the train to the North Pole to see Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and the elves. Next Christmas should be interesting. A couple days after Christmas you, your dad and I flew off to California for a week of visiting your cousins. At Avery and Birch's house you thought you had died and gone to heaven because they had so many trains, trucks and cars of every shape and size. At Jada and Brooke's house you contented yourself with pushing a pink stroller around because it was the only thing that had wheels. Your cousin Jada introduced you to the Wii dance game but your moves still consist of bobbing up and down. The highlight of the week for you was walking into my parents' house and discovering the Fisher Price steam engine. You played with it for two days straight and even took it to bed with you. You are fathoms deep in love with your grandparents. I think your dad and I could have disappeared as soon as you walked into their house and you wouldn't have cared.

However, I think my enduring memory of the trip will be that you actually fell asleep on top of me on the plane ride home, something you haven't done since you were about five months old. I was like a brand new mother hardly daring to move for fear I'd wake you up and in heaven at the same time. You are so rarely still that to hear your breathing and smell your sweet sweaty head and marvel that your feet now nearly reach my knees whereas you used to fit neatly onto my chest actually made the flight enjoyable. An hour later when the flight attendant woke you by announcing over the the intercom some trivial thing like we were about to land I wanted to cry.

And then a few days into the new year this terrible thing happened in Arizona and a little girl was killed and once more, for the hundredth, perhaps thousandth time, I was reminded that having a child makes you feel everything a million times more than if it had just be me. Having you made the pain of those parents losing their little girl feel all the more real. And I was reminded again that I cannot shield you from all the evil in the world, I can only thank whatever lucky star for keeping us out of harm's way. I know that one day I will be at a loss to explain to you - as I heard my friend trying to explain to her four year old after he heard a story on NPR - why bad governments do bad things to people. I will have to explain to you all of the horrific things of this world and try to come up with reasons for why they happened and sometimes there won't be a reason at all and I imagine that will be as difficult to understand at six as it is at thirty six. I was selfishly grateful that I did not have to explain this tragedy to you.

We watched part of the President's speech and you looked at me as tears ran down my face and you didn't understand why I was crying. I tried to tell you that when the President speaks we must be quiet and listen but you were more interested in your trains. I was in that moment, I am sorry to say, slightly put out by this, wanting to hear the speech and not play with trains but upon reflection, I am so thankful that you are still at an age when most of the world's problems are not yours. Your unhappy moments stem from the fact that you have to put your toys away and go to bed or that you don't like what I have made you for dinner. You are so lucky right now and we are so lucky to have a warm house and clothes and food and that a tragedy has not struck our family in the ways that it struck those people in Arizona. Someday the world will come knocking and you will have to find your way in it but I am so glad that right now you are still small enough to sometime, every once in a great while, climb into my arms and lie there and talk to me the way you did when you were so very little and you would chatter in your infant babble about the trees outside your window. Now you chatter about school and how you don't want to go and about soccer and kicking the ball and your friends and for just a few moments the rest of the world and all of its awfulness and ugliness melts away.