Sunday, November 22, 2015

Fresh communications

Fresh for November 2015..."I'm not tired. I'm not going to bed." C'mon, the time change was really working for us.

"I'm tiiiiiiiiiired," seemed like a declaration that we'd hear endlessly, but it's followed mastodons into the ice. It's revived occasionally, much like the inquiry, "Why?"

Despite stubbornness about going to bed, Beren is increasingly communicative with our adult friends, telling them all about his projects. When they don't quite realize he's talking to them, I respond. To this, he shouts, "I'm not talking to you."

Please and thank you are making more sincere appearances in daily speech.

Bottom line, you win some, you lose some. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Photos from Florida

There's just so much going on, inside and out, that I'm just going to share these vacation photos from last spring.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

I'm gonna break my rusty cage

 Considering Beren's personality, it all makes sense.

One afternoon last month, Jared belted out, "I'm gonna break my rusty cage and run!" Beren found this very funny, so Jared sang it again and again. And again a few more times at Beren's request.

Jared explained that there is a song called Rusty Cage. We listened to the song, and since then we have listened to Rusty Cage by Soundgarden dozens of times while running through our darkened house.

Other songs have been played during our evening dance parties, some noted by Beren. Last night Beren asked, "Momma, what is Smokestack Lightnin'?"

It's been a blast to blast music and dance. What an oddball song to break it all loose.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


Both Jared and I love making art with Beren. Tonight, Beren picked up a soft drawing pencil. Rolling it between his palms, he said, "I'm making a shagbark hickory. Momma, you make the branches and leaves." Beren made the trunk, and I made the lateral branches at top and the green leaves.

This all lends truth to the phrase I disliked hearing while a student and then a professional artist, "This is art? But my kid could make this." Damn, look at that texture and line. Shagbark hickory bark, indeed.

On Sunday, Jared took a day-long class on cordage. He left before Beren was up and returned just before his bedtime. It was a long, but good day for all of us. 

The challenge of parenting in the modern world is that many of us do it on our own. If one parent is away, then the remaining parent is one on one (or one on however many children your family has). On good days, everything rolls. On bad days, I'm checking the clock regularly. When's Papa coming home? On either kind of day, creativity and patience can run thin. That goes both ways. Kids get tired of parents, too.

Toss in a virus or bacterium, and you're sunk. The house, no matter how hard we all try, is a disaster. The entry way looks like an abandoned parking lot - grit, old shoes, tattered leaves. The kitchen looks like a restaurant that lacks running water and a dishwasher. Suddenly, the only easy snacks available are mucus-producing dairy products. Luckily, Beren was beginning to kick his bout with The Croup by this Sunday. Some dishes and sweeping had been done.

Beren slept in a bit, so I had time to plan. I pulled three drawers out of a bureau and set them up outside at Beren's height. Each held an array of art supplies - pastels, pencils, inks, oil paints, acrylics, charcoal, beads, string, brushes, sponges, and many types of paper. My intent was this - get my recuperating child out in the warm sun and to lessen any sickness-related crankiness/malaise by providing three huge drawers of treasures. 

I also hoped the cure-all sun would remove the paper's musty smell that remained from our last house. I set up the clothes horse and pinned my paper collection to it. Christmas paper, handmade paper from high school and college, drawing paper, writing paper, gift bags, and tissue paper. The bonus was I'd be getting this massive task I'd been intending to do since we moved.

Beren finally staggered downstairs for breakfast, and we sat together eating. When his interest in food waned, I said, "There's something unusual outside." "What?" "Look."

Beren saw the billowing paper and sprawling drawers. His boots and jacket went on, and we spent hours with the drawers. We sorted beads and made paper trays for them. 

I guided Beren away from white paper and markers and towards black paper and colored pencils. We watched shadows on the barn and drew the shadows we saw. "See how the color is different in the sun and the shadow? Here, I'll draw the pine tree. I'm just making scribbles and textures to make the tree, no lines." 

Big drawings, little drawings. We found a long sheet of paper, and I traced his body. "That tickles my ear!" he said. 

Lunch came and went, his appetite still low. Just a couple sips of soup. By late afternoon, the wind and sun had chased the mold away, and maybe a bit of Beren's sickness.

We took a break inside, and we decided to make cookies (very therapeutic cookies). While the first batch cooked, Beren slid on the kitchen floor. A sickening smack. His head collided with the tile floor. On sound came from his open, twisted mouth as he wrestled away from me. He came back and screamed, "How can you make me feel better?" over and over and over. Over and over.

I was reeling, too. I watch a big purple lump appear on his temple. My heart pounded. Would I call Jared? My Mom who was just 10 minutes away? Our health care practitioner? After a long, very long seeming time, Beren settled. I checked him for a concussion. I pulled the cookies from the oven. We spent the rest of the day inside, tenderly. Occasionally, he'd cry again, telling me his head hurt.

Beren finally recovered but was then overtired and talking wildly and without pause. He'd been talking and talking and talking for what seemed quite some time. 

"What's this?" he asked as he pulled a lamp off my desk. "Does this bend like this? How does this work?" "Can I have moment Beren? I'm writing a note to a friend," I said and lifted my pen. He continued chattering, and I was unable to continue writing. "Can I just have a moment of quiet? Five minutes and then we'll do something together?" "But Momma, I have something to tell you." "OK."

When Jared walked in, we were all pleased for the change.
Life is so complicated. So complicated. And then it's not and then it is.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sorting out swordplay


Last night Beren picked up "a sword", actually a big whitish stick, probably a tulip branch. At times, he called it a "light saber" (source:  kids at school who watch movies). At turns, he wore a "lightning suit" and used his sword to shoot lightning up into the sky. He told me he was going to hunt deer, and perhaps at this age he'd learn to do that but just a hundred years ago or maybe less.

The three of us wandered into the woods along a favorite trail we cut by frequent travel. We passed a mossy boulder nestled into a small wedge of mesic woods at ledge of the mountain before it descends to the road and then another couple hundred feet down to the creek.

We reached "the raspberry tree", a place Jared and Beren found. There, a tree was wrenched from the ground by wind or disease. At the top of the root ball in the mineral soil exposed by its fall, a purple flowering raspberry seed found purchase and germinated. Below it, and closer to the ground, is a red elderberry, about two nodes high. Plants, how do they know the perfect place to be?

From atop the fallen bole, Beren asked, "What time is it?" You don't yet need to know what time it is, my little one. Be free of the tickling ticking, tick tock tickling your sense of being. "It's dusk. The time when the sun has slipped behind the mountain, but its light is still strong. Dusk. Just before night."
Dusk painted itself darker blue, and we went down the mountain beneath a canopy of arching witch hazels, yellow in foliage and flower.

Back at home, Beren resumed his swordplay. In the darkness, I could see, but better hear, the sticks he and Jared swung. Click clack. The sound of a father teaching through play a skill a child might need. Defense and offense. Everyone needs to eat.

So often we think of fighting as barbaric. Sometimes it is, and can be unfair. When I look at the root, I sometimes see a human element suppressed - the need to hunt for food. Blood is usually on someone else's hands and land. The bloody hand probably don't own the land, they're there for a paycheck. Everyone needs to eat.

And if adults can fight (or "play fight" as in sports), why can't children? Because they don't know better? Perhaps they know better than we do! Closer to the earth and their biological needs, perhaps they know what's coming, or what would have come, if they were still directly reliant on the earth.

Who am I to suppress an ancient element with a nagging voice, "Put that down! Be careful!" No fighting!"? I wonder about the aimless, rage soaked ways of today. In cultivated, modern life there's hardly danger that activates human cunning and skill. Sports, sure, they are ways to hone energy, skills, muscle, and bone, and to use excess energy, and create camaraderie, competition, and maybe laugh. What about stalking the fields and forests, looking for food, following signs of predator and prey as you'd be both, reading the plants as they'd be your life's blood.

So, I'll guide my child through saber play, dreams of police and firefighters, and fast vehicles, allowing his swordplay as he defines good and evil, food and hunger, all for himself.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Gender Agenda

 Puppy Dog in his bed

At a recent birthday party for one of Beren's friends, I asked a Mom if her son and daughter were different, along gender lines anyway. She affirmed, and we chatted on the subject the way two people getting to know each other might. We agreed we'd been hands off, not pushing trucks or dolls.

The gender agenda might be pushed in other ways, ways I might not like to admit. Last spring, Beren picked out a pair of socks at Old Navy. They were bunny themed - red, white, and pink (girl-like). I hesitated and said sure. He tears through socks, literally (like a boy).

One morning Beren selected the bunny socks as he dressed himself for school. I hesitated, this time a bit longer. The gender agenda presents itself. What if someone tells him pink is for girls, I wondered. Would he be surprised? I wonder this, too, when Beren happily gobbles vegetables. WOuld you like some greens? "Yum yum! Yum yum!" he says. What of the time he hears, "Ew! You eat that?"

Some of his friends are less interested in girls, according to one mom. Beren, on the other hand, hasn't really shown a preference yet.

I showed him some of his infant clothes recently, we exclaimed over how tiny they were. Impossible that they'd fit such a big kid. I mentioned they'd fit his plush toy "Puppy Dog". Beren wanted to dress Puppy Dog in his baby clothes, so we did.

Beren gently dressed Puppy Dog and asked me to carry Puppy Dog around. Then, Beren took a turn. So carefully, so gently. "Here is Legos, Baby. They are very fun. Legos are not for babies because they put little things in their mouths," Beren said as he showed the baby around.

Later, he made a bed from on old wine box, lining it with soft blankets. The following morning, Puppy Dog came down the steps hitched up on Beren's hip. "Here's Puppy Dog, Momma. Let's give him big cuddles." Beren put Puppy Dog on my lap and we gave that sweet little baby a hug.

I really enjoy being a mother. Each day brings something new.