Sunday, July 20, 2014

What Are You Thinking About?

"Oh look, Jamie had her baby," I said to Beren. He wiggled in next to me and peered at the iPad. 

We flipped through a Facebook album featuring blurry photographs... a smiling father cradling a newborn, a beaming big sister (though quite small herself) sitting cross legged, arms outstretched to receive her newborn sister. A bigger brother cradling his newborn sister. Tiny newborn finger wrapped around big brother's finger. 

Beren did that in the hospital, too. I was startled at his powerful grip. Wasn't he just floating in space for nine months? Aren't those fingers even younger than nine months, and still, such a grip?

My chest tightened and my eyes welled as I looked at those big, dark newborn eyes. Round face. So small. Swaddled.

"What are you thinking, Momma?" Beren asked. 

I didn't answer. If I did, my voice would be thick with emotion.

"What are you thinking, Momma?" he asked again, almost chiding me.

"I'm thinking about babies, Beren. What are you thinking about?"

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rain of Sound

On my hour long commute to my part time job, I listen to NPR. I don't enjoy it. 

I don't enjoy the music the radio has to offer either. I'll flip through, maybe catch the last couple bars of a Rolling Stones tune, if I'm lucky. A Meatloaf song if I'm really, really unlucky. Golly, I dislike Meatloaf more than, well, probably as much as I dislike The Who.

"Oldies" - late fifties to mid to late sixties rock (late sixties is pushing it) the songs that taught me how to sing in tune, as I sang along on lonely car rides, are hardly played. Oldies are now the 1970s, 80s and 90s, the radio announcer or the robot on "Ben FM" tells me. 

"Tellin' me more and more..."

Ben is wrong. Radio-ready disco and funk are not oldies, nor do I enjoy listening to it. Disco makes me feel uncomfortable. Could it be that I'm Catholic? Back to NPR.

"About some useless information..."

Remember car radios that had difficult to depress buttons that would send an orange bar shooting across the dial?

Right now, I'd rather listen to the rain, but instead I hear my overtired child whining. He tells my husband, "I'm not tired." I hear his footfalls on the steps. A half hour later, he's asleep.

But on the way I home, the Middle East is in the news. Heaven knows what happened to 200 African girls. Haven't heard about them. Slaves, prostitutes, and unwilling wives, I'll guess. Ukraine? Who knows, but I do know that peacocks are being killed in a suburbs neighborhood somewhere in the USA, so says NPR. Ocean acidification. Medical cannabis. 

Maybe I should tune back to disco hits and learn a new way of singing. "Young and sweet...only seventeen..."

Nah. I'd rather listen to the sound of biting my own nails. I should do that next week. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Master Dirt Time

Dirt time. 

Dirt time is a concept Jared and I learned about in Tracker School. You'll be a good tracker if you spend dirt time on it. Practice.

Over my lifetime, there are so many things I've learned and not spent dirt time on them. There are few that I have. I spent a lot of dirt time learning traditional darkroom skills. Now my darkroom is in pieces, much of it stored in a huge plastic bin, about the size of a walk in shower. In fact, I bought that bin late in my pregnancy so I could take baths in our walk in shower.

The bin of photography equipment sits on my parents' back porch. I was supposed to move it before last weekend's family reunion, but kept forgetting until it became a good place to stage a case of Aquafina. I hate bottled water, but it was a good spot. No one tripped over my photography bin/labor tub.

I spent a lot of dirt time on Kung fu, and I rarely have time to practice. "Practeese make perfect," Sifu told me. I spent a little dirt time on Kung fu about a week ago. Four foot long stems of rye that Jared scythed down got tangled around my ankles as I took to the field. Everytime I kicked, rye grass flew. Everytime I fell to the ground during 36 Steps of the Monkey, rye grass poked me. Beren told Jared I was "doing something fun." It was.

I played in bands for awhile. Played in one for years. I played guitar, sang sometimes. I played violin, but never really felt that good. Jared and I began to learn some folk songs. I sang. He played guitar. I "gave" my violin to Jared. My lyrics folder is somewhere on the bookshelf, I think.

I spent a lot of dirt time with Newcomb's Wildflower Guide. I haven't picked it up but once lately. I lean on Jared for the tough IDs. I'm more interested in caterpillars and butterflies lately. Bees, too. 

It seems like human nature, always trying something new. It seems rare to be a master. I suppose I would not be so moved when I met a master, that is, if masters graced every city corner and country cottage. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I was climbing and climbing

I knew I didn't feel comfortable, but I did it anyway. 

The indoor jungle gym at a local kids museum was one and half stories tall. "Would you like to go in there?" I could barely hear Beren's reply, "Mm hmm," over the clamor of children and parents. 

I read the rules of engagement. Nothing about height requirements to disqualify us, nor age. Under three, an adult companion was recommended. Most of the other children appeared much older than that, seven, say.

I almost walked out the room, but asked Beren again. Yes, indeed, he wanted to go in. Ok, don't hover, I thought. 

I walked Beren to the entrance of the labyrinth and let go of his hand. In he went. Within three minutes, I broke rule number two on the list: keep an eye on your child at all times.

I noted there were four exits from the jungle gym and one exit from the room. I shouted Beren's name into the labyrinth. Who could hear me anyway?

An older, smoky voiced woman told me he'd be fine, he'd come out sometime, and that she put here three year old nephew in there. 

"I can't see my kid, and I'm flipping out," I said to two other mothers and one father. Jared will kill me, I thought. No one replied, perhaps their eyes were trained on their own reappearing and disappearing kids. 

A staff person drifted by, and I repeated myself. "You can go up there," she said. "Yes, but if I do, and he comes down, I'll never find him. I'm flipping out." I described his clothes, and the young woman clambered into the gym.

She returned several minutes later. "I found him, but he wouldn't come down with me."

Good but bad. He was having a good time, he was unwilling to be escorted by a stranger, and/or he was immbolized with fear. 

I'd later learn that at least the first was true, and I hope that the second was, too. I've begun what I hope is a subtle but powerful confidence building when it comes to strangers. "Don't go with anyone other than Momma or Papa..." "You didn't want to talk to that person you didn't know. That's fine. You don't have to." I never chide my child into making nice with a stranger. And lots of adults do try to make nice..."your hair...blah blah..." "high five! No? No high five?" Nope, sorry. 

I felt a little more relaxed having had some word about my child. An adult manager came by, "Everything ok?"

"I can't see my kid, and I am really upset. I don't want to go in, in case he comes out," I said yet again. "It's impossible to keep an eye on him in there." I added, as a sort of apology. No other parents seemed concerned.

The young woman told the manager that shed gone in and Beren wouldn't come out.

"I'll go in," said the manager. Another young employee asked if I could bribe him down. If only, I could see or hear him.

Suddenly Beren appeared in one of many climbing areas. I shouted his name, and he looked at me. "Come down. Come down over here."

Luckily for me, he listened and descended. Hopefully, I thanked the employees. If not, I hope they understand. It probably happens frequently.

"See!" said the husky voiced woman. "You got him!"

I grabbed Beren's hand and pulled him to another section of the museum. He came willingly. My heart pounded. We colored with glowing markers under black lights, and I soon forgot the labyrinth.

I later asked Beren if he was scared in the jungle gym. I can't recall if he said yes or no. I probably wasn't listening because I was really asking myself. I told him I was scared, that I couldn't see him. 

"Was it fun?"

"Yes, I was climbing and climbing!"

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Stick with us, we got some plans

My stubbly lawn

Checking the mail and hanging laundry are two of my great joys of new home ownership status.

Mail...I don't share a mailbox with landlords any more. It's mine. All mine. When the red plastic flag on the mailbox was busted, it was my problem. When Beren and I sawed it off with a hacksaw and then I couldn't find a matching bolt and nut to repair it and felt hopeless and ineffective. My problem. When rain trickled into the resulting hole, my problem. 

That I had to use masking tape to temporarily fix the flag so the mortgage payment would be picked up by the mail lady, was my problem. My problem until my Dad gave me two, yes two, matching bolt and nut sets to fix the mailbox flag. Then I put the flag on upside down, my problem and I don't care because it works.

All the junk mail, including the coupons and offers I will never use are mine. I wish they wouldn't arrive, but I open them anyway. Maybe there's something good? Nope, I don't need a lawn service, blinds, or my driveway paved. We're good. It's our house, so it's our choice. Though the size of the bank account does make many choices for us. 

On top of this Highlands mountainside, my laundry dries. It dries quickly. This means the circulation is good. The air moves, it's not stagnant, though it is filled with mosquitoes. The laundry smells good. It's fresh, rough and stiff, just like the line dried laundry I grew up with. 

Then, another joy is not mowing our lawn. We don't have a mower. A neighbor asked if we wanted to borrow one. Nope. They're nice folks, interested folks. They slow down to observe the tree we had taken down in front of the house. Nosy. 

But, you know what's great? It's my stinking tree. It's my house. I can stop mowing, I don't live in the 'burbs or town. I live on a farm road. There's lots of farm yards here, filled with chickens, cats, and weeds. My yard is one of them. 

My yard. Nope, I don't need a mower. I'm whispering in the bumble bees' ears. "You think this white clover is good? Stick around. Stick with us. We've got some plans for this place."

Our place. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Big Deal

Jared and Beren on Sunset Hill

This evening we took a noisy stroll with Beren in his wagon. We waddled down the steep slope on our road to what I like to call "Sunset Hill". Jared and I walked side by side sometimes, sometimes holding hands. Sometimes I stared at Beren's long, thin legs. His tight fitting tee shirt with orange sleeves showed how big he'd gotten. He munched on corn chips.

He's so big.

Remember when I had to hide in closets to nurse and not even that worked because he'd grab everything in the dark? Remember when Jared had to cral across the room below Beren's eye level so he'd remain focused on nursing? I thought I'd never rejoin society.

Remember when started to walk? I don't exactly remember his first steps. I hope Jared does. Early walking days were great days.

Remember when Beren gave up his afternoon nap? In frustration, Jared tossed Beren's stroller. It broke. That happened when I was at work. It seemed like such a big deal. Beren didn't like being in a stroller anyway.

Remember when he first linked one wooden train track to the next? I do. I remember helping him. I remember trying to assemble them incorrectly so he could help me. I remember repeating, "Tab goes into the notch."

Remember when all he said was "MMM mmm Mmm!" and then "Mouse!" It seemed like such a big deal. Now he says, "I had a bad day." Why? "Because I coughed. And when I spat out water."

Remember when we would go to bed until 10:30 pm? I do. Because he often still does. Remember when it seemed like something was wrong? It was - we lived in a moldy house. Every minor cold spun out into the croup. Now we don't - we live in a high and dry house. Now a cold is a cold, just the common cold. And yet, bedtime is often much later than I'd like. Instead I now get a cheerful child, our night owl who sleeps well at night because he can breathe well. It's 10:32 p.m. and Beren's making  vehicle with "machine parts" from a shell and modeling clay.

Remember when something seemed like a big deal? Why? Because it was. Those early days. They're real, they're rough, but where did they go?  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Independence Training

"From eighteen months to about age three is really rough, and then at three and a half... It's such a great age. It's so fun. You can reason with them," she told me as we stood in an elementary school cafeteria. We were both there to watch a play put on by my sister-in-law's students.

"You're almost there," she continued. She must have misheard how old Beren was.

"We're there. He's three and a half, and yes, things are good," I said.

Beren uses big, expressive words. He lounges on the couch, or curls up in the big, blue chair to rest. "You're not a chickadee anymore, you're a big boy. You can sit in one place for a moment," Jared tells Beren. He's right.

His independence is beautiful. Jared and I have a bit more time (not for each other - Beren will wedge himself between us if we sit close on the couch, or he'll start talking loudly when Jared and I converse. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, but I catch myself now and again: "I'm talking to Papa right now, and I will tell you where the scissor are when I'm finished.")

"I'm thinking," he says, if I repeat a question that he's not answered. I want to fall off my chair. I'm amazed.

"Papa seems a little sad today. Why do you think that is?" I ask. "He's tired," Beren says. I'm fascinated. I wish I knew what "tired" means to Beren because I can tell that he means something more than sleepy every time he uses the word.

I've been unwittingly waiting for three and a half for three and a half years. I've been advised that I'm too protective, that I might want to wean, that I should do a variety of "independence" training activities. And look, he did it all on his own, with a lot of help.