Saturday, August 27, 2011

Audrey and Mom at a concert, and a glimpse ahead.

Suburban bliss: an outdoor concert on the grounds of the public library, on a summer evening, a picnic, just me and Audrey and some good friends, and friendly, gum-snapping teenagers doing face-painting. I had such a good, good time just being with Audrey who is, all by herself, a total delight 99% of the time. It's not simple to figure out, but it's worth the extra schedule juggling to do it. I still remember when my mom set aside afternoon to just hang out with me, and sent Janna off to the sitter for a few hours. What a luxury to give all my attention to one kid and let her lolligag as much as she wants, occupy me completely with charming, chattery nonesense, and dance with her in our upper-middle-class Eden with the rest of the 401(k)'d and batik-skirted volk. (That sounds snappish but I had a really, really lovely time.)

And here's a little news about Audrey's future plans that I found mildly upsetting at first. One of her preschool teachers is expecting a baby and so a lot of "imaginative play" in the classroom has included being pregnant. (You know, stuffing a pillow under your shirt and all that.) Audrey, I was informed one recent day at pick-up time, had announced her pregnancy that day. For a moment I felt a strange choking sensation and then I remembered: she's 3. This sweet, quiet little boy in her class said it was also his baby, and that he was going to marry Audrey. He kept his arm protectively around her for much of the afternoon, the teachers reported. A few days later his mother said she'd overheard her son saying he had to earn lots of money to take care of the baby. Later he asked her if she would mind taking care of the baby while he takes Audrey on a 100 day honeymoon.

Scott and I are still adjusting to it all, but we are pleased she has chosen such a thoughtful and pragmatic young man for a partner.


Calvin marches to the beat of his own drummer. And the drum beat sounds like this:

This morning, at the New England Aquarium, we went to their fantastic exhibit in which tiny, beautiful manta rays and sand sharks swim in a shallow pool and you can reach in to touch these -- completely safe, small and harmless!-- animals as they sail by. You do need to be gentle though, and that’s why I held Calvin back carefully so that his hands couldn’t get anywhere near the rays or the (again, for the grandmothers, totally harmless!) sharks. For their safety as much as his.

Finding his arms impeded, he simply did a legger over the side of the tank and started climbing in. We left the exhibit before any of us had to be escorted -- or fished --out.

I can already hear the lectures of his classmates’ parents’:

“And if Calvin decided to climb into a tank full of sharks, would you try it too?!”

“Yes, totally! He made it look like the most funnest thing ever!”

In addition to a college fund we are also setting aside money for legal fees. Feel free to kick in around the holidays, or his birthday.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

There's no picture with this post and you will shortly be glad of it.

As with my last post on this subject, I've decided to spare you the visuals. You are welcome.

You would think that in four years of parenting, I would learn to recognize patterns. That I would be quicker on the uptake. But there is a part of me so impervious to the effects of experience and time that it never adapts. It dwells in a timeless place where lessons are never learned, just endlessly repeated like episodes of Caillou. And that part of me asked this morning, “Say... am I crazy or does it smell awful in here?”

One of us-- I won’t say who but it wasn’t me, Scott or Audrey-- had just delivered a payload of doo-doo into a diaper that reeeeeeeeked something awful, but instead of diagnosing the problem like someone who has dealt with exactly the same thing every day for approximately... let’s see...1,460 days, I decided that a sewer main on our street must have broken.

With Calvin standing right there at my feet, a busted pipe was honestly the most likely scenario I could think of.

And I went about my business, assuming that the City of Arlington would be by shortly to deal with it, until the smell became dangerously foul and it finally dawned on me: poop. Of course. Poop! It’s always poop. And so much closer than I imagined. Next time I'll probably think it's some kind of stink-bomb weaponry system being tested on our neighborhood by a covert-ops team, or maybe an invasion of skunks.


After the rain

Joy! Mud! Joy! Mud! Joy! Break for traffic. Joy! Mud! Joy!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Calvin's still taller, but Nellie has taken the wheel.

Friends Nellie and Calvin will be classmates this fall, just like their older sisters. We do hope they aren't expelled for putting each other in a lip-lock.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Janna and Calvin and the frightful prospect of the evening repast.

I wanted to headline tonight with this absolutely lovely photo of Calvin and Janna, who was hear from Durham this weekend and whom we already miss very much. It was a wonderful weekend. Just look at all the beauty and joy in those faces!

Because now I have to tell you about dinner here tonight. Disasterville.

I don’t mean that the food was bad. The small amount that traveled from my fork to my mouth was a perfectly acceptable weeknight, not-going-to-win-prizes-but-decent rice and vegetables thing. It was the savages-- I mean children-- seated to my right and to my left that made the meal something to be endured.

Audrey whined and fretted and finally left the table having eaten exactly nothing. Calvin picked up his rice and chucked it at us in handfuls, so he was taken from the table, screaming. (No we will not act like that at the table, young man. And get your fork out of my eye socket this instant!) Scott and I looked across the table at each other with a combination of shock and resignation that is the flip side of the parenting coin, the other side being the “How can we be so lucky?!” side. Dinner tonight made us both wonder what on earth we had wrought. How did we get from our giddy first date when we ate barbeque and asked each other, oh-so-lighly, about future children, to this grim scene of pouting, threats and spat-out pieces of avocado?

Now that it’s all cleaned up, the dishes washed and the remains scraped off the floor, I must say I am feeling like the sit-down family dinners are-- for the time-being anyway-- not worth the trouble. Yes, it’s good to teach children about ritual and routine, about manners and healthy eating, but then I look at the facts on the ground and I think it might be better to just put some cold cereal into dog dishes and serve it on the floor. I’ll get down there and eat with them if that would make it more of a family ritual.

Not really.

Well, maybe.

I need some sleep before I consider the matter any further.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rites of Summer: Their First Lemonade Stand

Top of Audrey's to-do list, ever since she saw the neighbor kids pouring lemonade across the street, was to "sell stuff." At last, today I got some lemonade and cups, a bucket of change for the till, some markers, a little table and chairs and paper for a sign. I also secured Audrey a business partner, Alice, who came with her mom, providing the critical extra grown-up needed to make this venture viable. Calvin and Alice's younger sister Nellie played in the house while Audrey and Alice sought their fortunes in the cold beverage business.

Sales were brisk. We moved a lot of product with our unbeatable $0.25 price, inspiring some customers to pay as much as $3. Even the neighborhood kids usually ponied up $0.50 cents. One customer bought two cups and gave each girl a brand-new $1 coin. Our 82 year old neighbor Maggie stopped by on her way back up the hill from the grocery store-- that's right, this woman WALKS to the store, in August, at age 82-- and reminisced about her childhood lemonade stands in Cambridge when she had to press her own lemons. No concentrate back then! We poured her cup extra full.

A few things impressed me, not the least of which was that the girls stayed interested in the project for more than an hour and actually smiled at their customers, in between counting money. Second, the young teens on our street-- who have impressed me before with their good-naturedness- came over to buy and just behaved like such nice people it made me want to go congratulate their parents again. And third, I was startled by the speed with which we almost lost our table and chairs, before I'd even had time to post our sign or bring the kids out, to a passerby who thought they were left for the taking. My neighbor Mika saw this about to happen, intervened (with great diplomacy) and came right into the house to find me-- saving us an ocean of tears.

Our sign was a simple affair-- just product, and price. I decided not to take Audrey's suggestion for wording, which was this: