Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Sitting in a homemade tent after a coffee cheers

There's a lot of time that passes between the moment we wake up each day and the moments, 13 hours later, when the kids settle into bed. It's normal now that we wake up without much of a plan and just blindly feel our way through our days. It's not a life I have experienced since I was a baby girl and a toddling girl and a preschooler (well, actually a "Tuesday schooler". Things were a little different in New Mexico in the early 1980s). I can't say that I ever truly considered what days would be like with my full time job being to teach and play, fix meals and bumps and teary eyes, and keep everybody sane enough and hopefully happy. But this is what I do now and it's a change, but a nice one, a tough one, and a period I know I will miss deeply someday.

I wondered before I started this just what would constitute a day at home; it was hard to imagine. It evolves, of course, with their age and their interests and their moods and my moods. But *usually* our mornings start earlier than anyone (but Gracie) would like. We have given up on the idea of her ever going back to sleep in her crib once we hear the initial "yeeaaaaa!" call from her room. Every morning we are surprised by how early it is she wakes up and we stumble to her room and she clings to us and we take her to our room, flop her into our bed. We stay silent and quietly beg her to do the same, which she usually almost does. We never give up hope that she will accidentally fall asleep in those first moments in our bed. But soon, it's all just too much and she eventually bursts out joyfully and sits up for the purpose of falling on top of us, over and over, laughter growing. In walks Noah, aggressively rubbing tired eyes, and the day begins.

It's 6:30 am, let's dance!

Fast forward an hour and we're at 7:30 am. Gracie has already rejected at least three breakfast items I have tried giving to her on several different types of spoons and Noah has abandoned his half eaten yogurt in his haste to get Lego-ing. He has graduated recently to the tiny Legos that come with instructions, which he very confidently calls "constructions" (has anything ever made more sense?). A few mornings ago, he spent about an hour studying the booklets that show the scenes that only children with every Lego on the planet can construct over the course of their entire childhood. We are slowly figuring out that when we build things, we have to build them high - up on a table or, better yet, up in his bedroom, where the little walking, screeching, flailing fuzzy headed monster can't reach him.

He does his building with his Legos and his regular blocks and his castle blocks and sometimes with things that are just lying around. Here he is describing a one clown circus he recently created:

He is a puppeteer now, with measured control over the characters who act in his make-believe toy worlds. And buzzing around him, sometimes with a barking toy dog in tow, always one step from a stumble, is his little sister, whom he adores. He lives on constant tornado watch, anxiety elevated slightly much of the time. It's a new obstacle for sure, but he seems to accept it, and sometimes even calls her "honey". "Honey, don't go near Noah's castles." And then are the other moments, "GRAAAAAAAAACE! I AM SO MAD MAD MAD! THAT'S MY CASTLE! YOU RUINED IT!" Sometimes she says "uh oh", but mostly she seems not to notice the outburst and continues on her way. I sit by Noah and either compliment or comfort him, depending on what has just gone down.

Moments later, I hear "uh oh uh OH... Yaya!" (I think she calls me Yaya (which I believe is not a mommy name, but a word for a Greek grandma), unless she really, definitively NEEDS my attention, in which case she suddenly remembers how to say mama). I know what has happened well before I reach her. She stands outside the bathroom door looking at me and pointing. I run to the toilet, wondering what it is this time.... a binkie? the rest of her breakfast? her sippy cup? Last week, she stuffed a giant stuffed dog in there one morning and one of Noah's shirts the next. I scold her with muffled laughter and remind myself... again... to close the door to the bathroom always. We should get one of those toilet locks, I say, morning upon morning upon day upon evening. And then the thought goes away until the next time I forget to close the bathroom door.

I take a couple laps around the downstairs, wanting my coffee but forgetting where I put it down. It is 8:30, just about the time I used to arrive at work, put my bag down and scurry over to my coworker's office for our walk to buy coffee. Sometimes, these days, I pick up my cup from whatever precarious place I left it and raise my mug to her in a quiet toast. It's easy to imagine her doing the same (and in fact we've had an occasional few moments where we find each other online at just the right time and we take the moment to clink our mugs).

My nostalgic smile suddenly turns to an exaggerated response to a begging at my shins. "What can I get for you, little one?" She says, "baba!" very clearly and directly, which, ironically, comes with much ambiguity, as "baba" takes on the meaning of "baby", "bottle", "binkie", and "bye bye" in our house these days. I hand her a bottle, she laughs (I've guessed right!), and toddles confidently out of the room.

Noah calls to me (again) to come see his tent. It's made of living room blankets, the sheets from his bed, and all the pillows in the house. He asks me to climb in and I do. We sit together under there, holding up the tent with our heads, alone for a moment, and I want to whisper, "We're doing OK with all this being at home stuff, right, Noah?" Sometimes the words do come out and he says, "Yeah, shhhhhhh, Mommy, shhhhhhh quiet. Now get in closer, so nobody can see us."