at the Museum

We made foam sculptures and giant magnetic faces.
We built mobiles and blanket forts and memories.
We connected with our own creativity and with friends.
Columbus Museum of Art



Anxiety shows up when I rush ahead into the minutes that haven’t been made.
In its absence, when I focus on creating couch cushion landing pads on the basement floor and packing picnics for the backyard, when I read another picture book and decidedly throw yet another dirty dish on top of the pile, when we watch a movie while they nap and when I watch him brush her hair, the minutes come unceremoniously but feel important and precious and fleeting.
And on one of those days when the way I spent my time reflects the way I want to live my life, peace pushes disquiet aside.



Among other imaginative games -- turning corn chips into spaceships and riding daddy's back like a rhinoceros through the jungle -- Tucker likes to use blocks to build hospitals for his people.  He makes a bed for the patient, with room for the nurse to wheel the chair in... and then, in an instant, the entire building collapses with one swift blow, an impulsive result of miscommunication or an abrupt assertion of independence.
We try to regard tantrums as a normal and generally transient feature of toddlerhood, but even occasional aggression feels frustrating and frightening for all of us.  By pushing the blocks he pushes the envelope, testing boundaries and parental patience.  In the domestic realm myth dictates that we, as adults, are endowed with a disproportionate measure of power, but in the midst of strong-willed toddler theatrics it can be difficult to be convinced.
When his tears seem filled with blame, so accusatory he might as well throw them at us too, we try to remember that he's just a little boy learning to handle big feelings.  And it's a big job to help him express them respectfully.



Tucker See

We went to the zoo yesterday, and this gorilla initiated a game of peek-a-boo with Tucker.  They played for at least five minutes. When Tuck watched this clip he laughed through most of it, and then got fairly serious and said, "Those people need to let him out."


As is Right

It doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots.  Four year olds are supposed to be running around. 

What’s wrong with her? they ask.
Not as much as must be wrong with you, I want to reply.

That attitude though, the one held by the shallow observer and reflected through my own thoughts, diminishes the speaker more than my child.  Normally I work not to let it bother me, but every so often discontent rises inside me, spurred by an insensitive remark or an unpleasant reminder of my baby’s unrealized potential.

I know the better answer, though:  Not nearly as much as is right.


Wake Up, Chow Down

Get out, dig in.
We spent the weekend in West Virginia.  We didn't sleep enough, we ate really well, we spent LOTS of time outside, and Poppy put Tucker to work.



In Kind

 He holds one-sided conversations with her.
Hi.  What's your name?  Celie.  Oh.  My name's Tucker.  It's nice to meet you.  My have red jello.  You want some?
He breaks to play, collecting things in his "egg cups."
He looks up, where white tracks cross the sky.
There are airplane lines up there!  (His dad looks at me.  "Did you teach him that?" he asks, smiling.  "Tuck, those are vapor trails.  Tell Celie.  She can't see them, but you can tell her what the vapor trails look like.")
Celie!  Those are vapor trails.  That airplane made lines in the blue sky!  Those lines are white, just like the clouds.  They are long lines in the sky up there!
He finishes, before his attention is drawn back to gathering objects.

Eventually he has more to talk to her about.
I caught a big bad bug.  Don't be scared of him.  You hold it.  It's a little bit scary.  Your hair looks pretty.  You're welcome. 
And on, and on.

Celie listens, a smile occasionally visiting her face.  His words may go unrequited, but his love does not.



So then. Appreciation it is.

Psychologists have found that our brains can't simultaneously experience fear and appreciation.
Martha Beck, in O Magazine


Life Savor

Tuck swallows life in big, breathless gulps, downs it until he's so full his seams burst and it spills into the rest of us.
His supply of energy and enthusiasm brims and becomes our focus, a distraction that helps with the temporary forgetting of other things, grown up things.  He's like a wick, conveying superfluous spirit.  And I wonder whether children were intended to provide such a service for alleged adults, those who are supposed to be doing the taking care, not the other way around.


It's there.

Adjusting to the unpredictable and making the best is, in part, what makes us parents.

Parenthood is unlimited flexibility and ready routine, the extinction of free time and the deferment of dreams, vacuuming Cheerios and scrounging in couch cushions for sanity and spare change -- all scattered with bursts of immense gratitude and absolute joy.
I don't mean to propagandize, to make believe that it's the opposite and that, mostly, parenthood is pure happiness peppered with sacrifice.  I don't intend to make it sound like grace never passes over our house, like our days are full of perfection and our nights are full of sleep.

Fighting frustration and fatigue, sometimes I have to be deliberate to find joy in parenting.
But it’s there.  It always is.


Over It

When I pause to notice, looking up from green earth and away from my own thoughts, I am reminded that the world spins the sun right overhead every day.  Every day.  Bright afternoons the color of tangerines with whipped cream clouds give way to evening skies in shades of a bruise.  Hydrangeas blue and big as dinner plates droop over sidewalks and skin, having not passed every moment in the shade, turns brown.  And then I can't get past the idea that, when I pause to notice it, there are rainbows when there aren't.


Fair Share


Look at the way

he looks at her.
When she put the dress on, he thought she was "a princess, just like Tinkerbell."


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I love the living daylights out of her.

We waited a long time to see her walk.  It felt like we spent more time in doctors' offices than at the playground.  We've endured countless bad days and endless crying nights.  We feel stares from other people and continue to let go of too many big dreams.

We accept what we have been given, embrace the life we thought we weren’t strong enough to live.  And we know that there is always, always something to be thankful for.

Right now it's that she was sent another day.  And a beautiful new pink gown.
JEB, with big hugs to Rock Hill!