Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Culture of Children

Our preschool day has ended. I am dragging into the house the smaller child, the lunchbag, the go-bag, assorted crafts, an empty milk carton, a Starbucks cup for the recycling, &c., &c., when DH emerges from his downstairs office.

He surveys the bright pink rubble lining our entryway and immediately inquires:  "Why is there a dried-out pork rib bone in her go-bag?"

(Oh, we had carrion in the go-bag? I hadn't noticed. No, really. I hadn't.) 

"Uh . . . well . . . I don't know, honey, but we'd better leave it there. I am sure there is a good reason, and I am certainly not going to be the one to -- "

At this juncture, He'en bursts in from the car, utterly aglow and caroling:  "MOM! I found a DINAH-soah bone! Inna SAN-box!"

Aha. Told you so.

We lovingly installed her archeological triumph on the porch. It sits right on top of the giant petrified tree trunk that my husband bought several months ago through Craig's List. That, also, lives on the porch. With the recent addition of a Magical Bubble Making Machine, the porch is getting very exciting indeed.

Nothing prepared me for -- and nobody warned me about -- the culture of children. By "culture," I do not mean (only) the runny noses, grubby hands, and general petri-dish-ification of your entire living space. I mean the separate universe inhabited by people who undertake to breed.  Travel is not the only way to broaden the mind; you can stay right here and embark on a 20-year cultural journey with new language, new foods, different clothing, and an entirely separate gestalt from the cheerfully child-free family living right next door to you.

I recently read an Architectural Digest profile of a designer couple's weekend home. They flee the maddening rush of the Big City to spend time together, they say, listening to classical music, shopping at the farmer's market, and cooking Moroccan food.

Yeah. I remember those days. I can even say that I miss those days.

But I'll bet their porch is achingly devoid of magical bubbles, fossilized flora, and real live genuine DINAH-soah bones.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Time for the Little One

I am almost giddy with freedom, having dispatched He'en to day camp, DH to an overnight business trip, and Dragon Girl to her crib for a morning rest. I hear a few warbles from upstairs, so we will see if that last . . . well, lasts.

With Sister away on family vacay and Dragon Girl not yet eligible for any summer camps, I've enjoyed spending more time in my house and with the kids. I feel that the littlest one has been getting the short end of the stick lately, though.  So often, we are running from one activity to the next, or I am circling the house trying to chip away at whatever chunk of the local chaos has lodged into my path that particular moment.  And because DG is so good at playing quietly with her toys, she is most often left to her own devices to do that if we are at home.

This morning, however, was a special morning. He'en was eager to go to camp. She got up early, ate, dressed, and strapped herself into the car seat. Woot! Teeth and hair both went un-brushed, because I was not about to harsh that mellow by prying her out for personal grooming. I hurriedly put the breakfast food away and tossed Dragon Girl into the car, still in her pajamas. Per her usual, DG was fine with that, chirping happily at He'en and drinking her morning milk on the drive.

With that hasty departure behind us, Dragon Girl and I found ourselves at loose ends after dropping He'en at her camp. It is a perfectly gorgeous Colorado summer day complete with light cool breezes and sparkling sunlight. I realized that I had a change of baby clothes in the car, so we went straight to the park. After an in-car change and some sunscreen, I bundled her little warm squirmy self into the baby swings and we had a very giggly interlude of swinging. Such fun to tickle her feet when she swung toward me! Unlike He'en, Dragon Girl has loved the swings from the first moment she saw one.

When swinging paled, I toted her around the park and we landed under the play structure, where the wood chips were still pretty dry after last night's rain. I found a little purple bucket and a fat pink plastic hoe that another child had left lying around.  She merrily landed and put chips into the bucket, then out of the bucket, then more into a bucket, then found some very large chips and burbled at me while waving them in the air: "See what I have?" She tried putting the end of one in her mouth, then hurriedly whipped it out with a little grin and an "uh-UH!" when she saw me watching.

"Yes," I grinned back, "I am watching YOU!" Giggle. Crawl. Giggle.

Wood chips were good for nearly a half-hour, after which we had another swing session (this time sitting in the big swings on my lap). More giggling. Then a big yawn broke up the giggles, so we headed to the car. She cheerfully accepted the carseat and a little scrap of milk left over from the morning commute. All the way home, I heard quiet sucking noises and the occasional shuffle of a bare foot on the carseat fabric.

She was dozing by the time we arrived home. I lifted her out of the seat and she snuggled onto my neck with a good strong clutch of soft baby arms. Then to the crib, where I deposited her with kisses and cuddles. She lofted her rump into the air and started to close her eyes, then opened them again and looked at me from the mattress. A big smile lit her whole face, and she floundered up to a sitting position, cooed at me, then snuggled down into her mattress again.

My littlest little bit! I am working out our fall schedules and I will have to schedule times like this with her. They are precious; she is precious. I don't want to miss a moment.