There’s a raucous chorus of “Down by the bay” happening upstairs. I’m downstairs. With coffee. This momentary peace will not last long. Oh yep, there we go… “No sissy! You’re not singing it right! Stooooooop!” The screaming indicates level 2 hair pulling, possibly someone sitting on the other. But ya know, the Mr. is upstairs and we have a pretty firm, although unspoken rule that whoever is closer to the fight, deals with it. I wonder if he knows about that rule.
Around this time a year ago, I cried when my kids were the only two in their preschool class who refused to stand in their Halloween costumes with the rest of their classmates for a mass parental photo op. I cried when our failure to hide sufficiently behind the audience resulted in them bolting from their gymnastics performance to run into the arms of their daddy. I cried when I went to the parent teacher conference and felt desperately like I needed to explain that “they do so much more at home!”
This year, I danced with my little dinosaur at the back of the classroom as her classmates performed in front of the paparazzi parents. I beamed when my spunky gymnast did her first somersault all by herself in our living room, despite the fact that she had balked at doing anything in her gymnastics class for two weeks in a row. I laughed at the parent teacher conference as we discussed their strong wills, their unique spirits, and their utter silliness.
There’s been a lot of maturing happening in the last year. Apparently it isn’t just children who grow up.
My girls love to “do art” but have failed to learn the basic task of putting caps back on markers, which means I’m constantly throwing them away, dried up and barely used. And then for a few weeks they’ll settle for crayons and colored pencils until I buy some more new markers for them to use furiously for three days before the tips dry out. Sadly for our couch, that never seems to happen until after there’s a huge ink bleed left on a cushion or two.
Did I mention we have decided to not buy any nice furniture until the girls turn 6? Or 10.
I have discovered I am utterly incapable of answering my four year olds’ deep philosophical questions. Like when I showed them a time lapse video of a caterpillar creating its cocoon and becoming a butterfly.
“But why mommy?” they asked, deeply concerned. “Why wasn’t he happy being a caterpillar?”
Becoming a parent unleashed a relentless spiritual journey upon me, largely manifesting in the single, yet most difficult lesson to learn: there is actually so little we control. We cannot protect our children entirely from the outside world, or from their own internal process as they figure it all out. We can’t do much to change their unique developmental timetable or their deeply ingrained temperaments. And there is absolutely nothing we can do about white board marker on the walls.
White board markers are permanent on walls.
A tiny sparky little boy in Beef’s class asked me the other day why Beef is so quiet. And I asked him why he is so loud. When he couldn’t answer, I told him how cool it was that some people are loud and some people are quiet and so many are somewhere in between. He nodded sagely and then he told me they have a dog and are going to the zoo tomorrow.
And I looked down at my quiet girl and saw her eyes sparkle up at me with the loudest love imaginable.
Two days ago, I had a gut moment that prompted me to abruptly and urgently ask my husband to check on the girls who were playing upstairs. He found Juju at the top of the stairs, sitting in a wicker basket, about to tip it over to “slide” down. She was furious when he prevented her from doing so.
I am now a believer in “mother’s intuition.”
Thanksgiving was a quiet affair for us this year. There was much to be thankful for: the near perfect turkey. The baby my brother and sister in law are anticipating this coming year. The hard work my husband puts in day after day to support us. My own job which fulfills my need for creativity and problem solving while allowing for friendships, office pranks, and Starbucks runs. Our relatively good health and our warm home. And my daughters. For the joy that they bring me, and the lessons. In patience. Acceptance. Letting go. Oh, the many, many lessons.
Thank you, my ridiculous goosers. Thank you.