Laugh

Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

Son is having a meltdown. It’s the end of the week, it’s hot and it’s right before dinner; all a recipe for disaster. Grauntie (Great Aunt) is visiting, it’s time for her to leave and he doesn’t want her to go. We’ve been trying everything to help him through his tears, but his feelings are big and they keep welling up.

Finally, we sit on the couch, me on one side of him and Grauntie on the other. I say, “let’s love you up”, I kiss his sweaty head and Grauntie joins in. I’m not sure if he’ll push us away. It’s hard to tell what he needs sometimes. But, he’s facing me and I can see him relax, see his dark eyes start to sparkle. Then Grauntie tickles him gently with a little stuffed sheep and makes a funny noise. Son starts to laugh. His laughter is bright as sunshine bursting through dark clouds. All of us breathe a sigh of relief. The sheep tickles me and I laugh too.

What are you grateful for today?

Life and Carrots

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Son is kneeling on his chair by the table. His eyes are focused intently and he’s breathing through his mouth, like he always does when he’s really concentrating. I’m gently holding a carrot on the sides so Son can pull the vegetable peeler down the length of the carrot by himself. Son’s dark brown eyes contrast with the carrot’s bright orange. It’s the first time he’s done this. Right before this moment, I gave him a serious talk about the sharpness and danger of the vegetable peeler. He’s trying hard to do a good job, to be careful. He pulls down gently and a perfect length of peel comes away. We both exhale.

Son has wanted to wield the vegetable peeler for at least half his life. It has remained stubbornly out of his reach until now. The way he holds it, turning it gently in his hands, looking at it from every angle, tells me how satisfying this moment is for him.

I think about growing up and how so much of it is just waiting for our bodies and minds to catch up with our desires. I know for Son, that wait can seem endless sometimes. It’s nice to be here with him when he can finally grasp something that’s been out of reach for so long.

What are you grateful for today?

Shazam

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Son and Husband are in our living room. I’m just across from them, in our kitchen. Son holds a wooden green onion in one hand, Husband holds a stone obelisk. They are grinning at each other. Son shouts, “one, two, three, ready!”. They both turn to me, point the onion and the obelisk and shout, “Shazam!”. I laugh. A big laugh, a hearty laugh, and bounce up and down.

You see, a while ago, Son had a tantrum and he was feeling so sad. Son has big feelings and they linger a long time. He didn’t know how to feel better again, so I told him I had a magic wand that would make him feel happy. I took a stone obelisk off our mantle, pointed it at him and shouted, “Shazam!”. It perked him up a bit, then he immediately wanted to try it out too. I hadn’t thought of this. The stone was too heavy for him, so I told him the wooden green onion in his kitchen was magic too. He tried it on Husband first, then me, and we did our best to become instantly happy when he shouted, “Shazam!”. From that day on, Son used it on us more than we ever used it on him. Today is the first time both Son and Husband joined forces to magic me happy. Two magicians in shorts. The funny thing is, it actually works.

Snails

The ground was damp from rain when Son, Daughter and I went for a walk, so Son found a snail. He walked with it for a while, then said, “Mama, can we take it home?”.

Snails were my first pets, and they’ve held a special place in my heart ever since. I said, “ok.”

Now we are home and Son has two snails in his hands. I put Daughter in her bouncy chair, then rush to find a jar for the snails. We put them in, add some leaves for food, then I find a lid. It needs holes, though. 

The snails start climbing out of the jar, so I put a small, metal strainer on the top, hoping it’ll hold them for now. Then I find a lid and start punching holes in it with a hammer and nail. Son watches the snails for a while, then watches me.

I put the finished lid on the jar. Success. Then I look inside the jar to see one snail, not two. I open the jar, move the leaves around. Definitely only one snail.

“Son, there’s only one snail in here, have you seen the other one?” I ask, carefully.

“No”, says Son, “where is it?”. His voice trembles.

Husband, who is not wild about this project, enters the room. “What’s going on?”, he says. “Let me know if you see a snail”, I say.

I look around for the snail. It can’t have gone far, but I also don’t see it anywhere. I look around the jar, on the floor of the kitchen, under the fridge. No snail.

I decide to scan the countertop. I’m thirsty. I reach for my water bottle, then stop. The snail is perched on the sport-cap, stretching out of its shell, reaching up to me.

“Here it is!”, I say. We all laugh, and I gently return the snail to its jar, where I hope it will stay until we release them both back into the wild on Monday.

Rest

Daughter is finally, finally tucked in her crib, her little arms spread wide, in abandon. My bed draws me to it, and I go, like a paper-clip to a magnet.

I’ll just sit here for a few minutes, I tell myself. Just to make sure Daughter is really sleeping. It’s for her sake that I sit on the bed. And it’s for her sake that I also put my head on the pillow, so I don’t make too much noise.

The bed holds me with the strength and softness of a parent carrying a sleepy child. I close my eyes, just for a second, just to pass the time, I tell myself. 

I drift happily on down clouds while the world seems to spin around me, then fall away.

Planetarium

Son is into Space. Ever since he got a Magic School Bus book on it. The book captured his imagination and now he wants to go to space, and see the stars. We tell him that going to space isn’t a possibility for him yet. Sadly, neither is seeing the stars since he goes to bed before the sun these days. Also, we live in a bright city that is cloudy more often than not. We decided that the planetarium would be the closest he could get to either dream for now.

Here we are at the planetarium. Son is so excited. He can’t wait to see all there is. He bolts ahead of me, Daughter, and Grandma who is with us. I catch up to him and explain that he has to stay with us. Eventually he nods. Grandma finds us and he starts running. I call him back in one of my sterner parent voices. He slows his body, but is unable to contain his dancing feet, he’s so excited. So he kind of just runs on the spot until we get closer. I can see the enthusiasm jumping around in his body and I can see him trying so hard to slow himself down. Luckily, the planetarium is small, and there aren’t many people, so once we round a corner, he’s free to go as fast as he likes, pushing every button in sight.

Help

We signed up for some parenting help, because parenting is confusing and challenging and bewildering sometimes. We’re lucky enough to live in a place where we could ask a lovely lady to come visit us, chat with us, and give us some help; for free.

We’re sitting, the lady, Husband and I, in our living room. I ask a question, and the lady tells me exactly what to say in a specific circumstance and how to say it. It’s a little thing, but it breaks open a dam and relief floods through my body, threatening to spill out as tears. Because you can read so many books and blogs and think you’re doing what they suggest but it doesn’t always work and you don’t know why and it’s all so general, never specific and here finally is an answer. Maybe, I hope. I can see how it’s different from what I’ve been doing. Firm and kind in all the best ways and I can finally see how we can do things better.

What’s the best moment of your day so far? What are you grateful for?