Tuesday, September 30, 2008

When I woke this morning, the first thing I did was pull my knees back under the cocoon of our Christmas colored quilt, because the cold morning air was making them numb. Then I grinned a very sleepy, stupid grin as I realized that the air was cold. Fall's almost here. Good riddance, summer.

My little girls were sleeping in "daddy's spot", all nestled in together like little spoons in a drawer full of dishtowels. They're so different in personality and traits, but when they sleep they're comically similar. Curled up on their sides, one arm tucked under their body across their chests, the other cupped under their chins in a thinker's pose. Mirth's eyes tightly buttoned shut, Lark's half open so that her enormous eyes peek from under a long, tangled bramble of lashes. The elder's mouth pooched into a rosebud, the younger with a whimsical half smile on her face. Both of them with the rowdy hair of unkept pixies.

Cold air in the morning always makes me half expect to wake up in my grandmother's chilly upstairs guest room, with the oily fog of bacon and eggs creeping up the stairs to mingle in my nose with the smell of fabric softener and cedar. It makes me smile. I imagine I can hear the laid back, balsa wood-soft voice of my Papa drawling away downstairs, and I picture him making jokes as worn out as a lazy old hound as he scrambles eggs and bakes biscuits. I hear my mom laugh, and my dad clear his throat before he takes his first sip of coffe, wild bear hear poking out everywhere.

I imagine my Mimi padding into the kitchen in her embroidered robe and slippers, her face still shiny and soft with cold cream, asking me, "Did you see what Santy-Clause brought? Are you hungry? Did it get too cold up their for y'all last night?"

I always lie, no, we were just warm enough, thank you, ma'am. The truth is, it WAS cold, but I don't tell her, because she'd fiddle with the heat and roast us like turkeys. It can always stay chilly, as far as I'm concerned. I like snuggling under the quilts, feeling the cold air on my eyelids when I blink.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Jack and Jill

I've always despised violent nursery rhymes for small children. Humpty Dumpty falls down and irreparably breaks into pieces, everyone falls down from the plague at the end of "Ring around the Rosies", London Bridge is destroyed, Mary Contrary's garden is filled with torture devices, Jack and Jill break their heads while falling down the hill...gruesome stuff. It used to make me shiver with protective indignation. Such stuff seemed wildly inappropriate for such innocent little people.

Then, my children became old enough for me to realize that there are some annoying traditions I cannot protect them from. Trying to keep them from absorbing those crazy poems (which mostly originated as political statements) is like trying to keep candy a secret from them. :OP They catch things from our culture that I wish I could simply disappear by waving my magic mommy hands and Avada Kadavra! But, in reality, it's simply not possible, much to my annoyance.

Anyhow, I've found that most of the creepiness goes right over the head of a child under, say 4, and once that age is reached, they get a chance to process their newly found understanding of permanent damage and death in form of a silly game or rhyme. It's not all terrible. If they don't have gory songs to sing already, they'll make up songs and stories themselves.

Case in point: Mirth tells us a bedtime story right before bed...

"Once upon a time, there was a team with a mascot. They were (thinking hard with nose wrinkled) the Northeast Bears. Yes. They were bears that lived in the Northeast. They EAT people who live in the Northeast. All the northeast people were dead. The people got scared and SHOT the Northeast bears. Then, they were dead. :) And the team didn't have a mascot. The end."

I suggested the "Northeast Goldfish", and Mirth agreed that fish were a better idea. "They just swim in a fishbowl all day, doing nothing but swimming. Goldfish don't eat people."

Suddenly, Humpty Dumpty seems tame.

And, true to form, she generally finds a way to redeem the characters in her fantasies. She's the eternal relational optimist, and loves to bring peace and solutions to tricky situations, as a way of bringing peaceful, safe feelings to her own mind about the subject. I love it about her. I love it about that age. She'll have years to grapple with the realities of life, but in this moment, she embraces fantasy, the magical and the terrible.

She explores the fantastic with gusto and ease, and fleshes out every possibility, from extraordinary peace to dismemberment, without a bat of an eye. It's constant. A character might die and be resurrected five times within a day, and she uses her magic words to change their fate, which is as capricious as a fairy tale.

Yesterday: "This is my little brother Jack (pssst! Mom! It's REALLY just N'omi, don't worry!) and I'm the sister Jill. But we don't ONLY go up the hill to fetch pails of water. Sometimes, we feed BEARS, too. They're not scary. They're sick. We put them into bed, and feed them soup. We make them scarves. See? They live in shoes. They hibernate there and eat fried corn. They're friendly bears."

And, in Mirth's world of bright eyed wonder, everyone gets to live happily ever after. Or not. ;)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Angry Dance.

At our house, when someone gets really, really angry, we suggest doing an angry dance to let go of the tension...and we've seen some really great ones in our day. I've done quite a few myself. They usually end with a fit of giggles.

I have to say, this one takes the cake in the "Elaborate" category, and it makes me giggle the most. I love these guys. :D

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Words are Magic

There are so many things in my almost 4yo's day that seem disconnected, but stem from the same basic developmental behavior. It's so interesting and earthshaking for me when I finally have that, "Aha!" moment that gives me insight into her behavior and how she's processing the world...and connects all the things that have me mystified with a common, very practical thread. These are the moments I long for as a parent, because they make sense of SO many seemingly crazy behaviors in my preschooler.

She falls apart completely, because her 2yo sister tells her she can't eat any dinner. She insists that flowers can regrow after they die if you put them in water, because her little friend said so, and cries for an hour when it doesn't happen. She looks at me in astonishment when she tells me something will happen, and I say "No". She insists she didn't do something I know very well she actually did.

Words are MAGIC to her. To Mirth, if you say something out loud, it HAS to happen, because words make it so. Sometimes, she catches nuance or joking, but the vast majority of the time, saying something makes it absolutely true...in fact, it can even reverse what's already actually happened!

It's making for interesting conversation, and also a really fun time to allow her to explore her imagination, and process and teach through fantasy. :o) More, later, maybe...our 2yo is teething and fussy..

Here's an excellent article by a friend of mine on the subject. :o)