Sunday, October 27, 2013

Round Up

My mind composes dozens of posts that never quite make it to this space, and the neglect of this space makes me feel off balance.  Dozens and dozens of tiny moments I hope never to forget; phrases I wish to record; snippets of conversations I know I'll laugh about again and again -- I am forever composing. 

Alas, here is one small attempt in recording such moments, taken from a small handful of hastily jotted down notes I write to myself on the backs of receipts and to-do lists, the margins of my calendar, tiny post it notes I keep in my purse....

Two weeks ago, after we'd eaten a quick picnic lunch on the floor of my office after preschool, I was rushing Pax to get out to the car. We had so many errands to run, none of which I was particularly looking forward to; I felt impatient with Pax for being slow, guilty for feeling so, and determined to hide my obvious annoyance.  Balancing an armload of bags, books, and water bottles, and in a tone of voice that surprised me in its calm and patience, I asked him to hold my hand in the parking lot.  He easily agreed, and I breathed a small sigh of relief that it was one battle I'd managed to dodge that afternoon.  Seven steps into the walk to the car, I felt Pax suddenly slow to a stop.  I stopped too, bit my tongue from urging him onward, and paused just long enough without saying anything for him to change the grip of our hands:  he tucked his index finger between my ring and pinky fingers, squeezed my hand gently, then started walking again.  Surprised by this tender, perfect moment, I stopped us a second time, shifted all the weight of what I was carrying, and bent down to kiss his tiny hand, overcome by the moment.  "Mommy, I WOVE [love] you," he exclaimed.   

I slowed our pace; I savored the feel of his tiny hand in mine; I suddenly realized that Jeff had taken the time to teach each boy the special way in which we hold hands.  Pax knew I wanted to get to the car; he felt my hurry and my impatience.  But it was too important not to hold hands in the way where our fingers fit just right.
Another day, during more errands (albeit far more enjoyable ones), Pax fell asleep during the ride to town.  Our first stop was to the strip mall for one quick trip into the book store. I parked the car, unloaded the sleeping boy onto my shoulder, shopped for my purchase, paid, left the store, and was oh-so-carefully easing the still-slumbering Pax back into his seat when he woke up, looked around, and asked, "What are we doing, Mommy?"  I answered, "We're going to head up to the fabric store."  "Then why did you accidentally park here?" 
Later in our errands as we unloaded from the car, I said playfully, "Come on, Stink bug!"  He looked at me quizzically and said, "But I thought I was your baby!  I cannot be your stink bug AND your baby."  I replied, "Okay, then.  You're my baby.  You will always be my baby..."  and for the first time, he didn't correct me to tell me he was not a baby, he was a big boy.  (I suppose he was simply relieved not to be called a stink bug anymore).
Pax has incidentally learned lots of letters and numbers.  That is to say, he lives in a print-rich environment, but we've taken no steps to formally teach him anything.  So we're all pretty amazed and impressed with how much he knows, considering a) there's no teaching from us; b) he's newly 4; and c) he's a third child, notoriously neglected.  At bedtime recently, the two of us shared this really beautiful little exchange, and I felt deeply connected, all over again, to Big Nutbrown Hare.  Our conversation:
Pax:  I really love you.
Me:  I really love you... more.
Pax:  I love you super duper.
Me:  I love you super duper and oodles and poodles.
Pax:  I love you A HUNDRED.
Me:  I love you a million.
Pax:  A million?
Me:  A million times a million.
Pax:  wow.
Aidan competed last weekend in a karate tournament, and did very well.  I am so proud of him for doing something that I know made him feel nervous.  I'm proud of him for showing up; for doing his best; for working hard.  I'm immensely proud of him for his sportsmanship.  He competed against a friend/teammate/classmate of his who didn't do quite as well as Aidan did in the competition.  When Aidan asked if he could bring his medals in to show his teacher, I reminded him gently that I didn't think it was the best idea, that he needed to be careful to protect his friend's feelings, knowing it might be hard to rehash the whole thing again in the classroom. "Oh, I know!"  Aidan said.  "I already thought about it.  I wasn't sure it was a good idea, either, but it was Timothy's idea to bring in the medals.  He was really excited for us both to show her."

I love to watch you do karate, Aidan.  Be proud of what you have achieved.... and be proud of the kind of athlete and friend you are to your teammates and fellow competitors. 
Leo is the perfect.... middle child.  Truly.  He is gifted in his ability to be younger brother one minute, older brother the next.  He is a mediator, a peacemaker, and the kindest, most sensitive young person I know.  At church this morning, Pax had been in a little scuffle with another four year old in the narthex.  I was coaxing Pax through his apology to Christophe, and Pax was pushing back, doggedly determined to admit to no wrongdoing.  Finally, Pax managed a half-hearted, eyes cast down, mumbling apology - "I'm sorry, Christophe."  There was a slight pause in which we all hoped Christophe would accept the meager apology.  In the silence, Leo piped up, "It may not sound like it, Christophe, but Pax means it from deep inside his heart." 

In our roller-coaster weekend filled with very high highs and plummeting lows, a ride notable for its seemingly endless bickering, it is these moments, these memories, that remind me to see the forest through the trees, see the child through the chaos of child-rearing.  From deep inside my heart.   

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