Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Last Days

Today is the last day before the Last Day of Elementary School for Will.  Tomorrow is the official "Last Day" but today is the last day before that last day.  Today I'm feeling grateful for Last Days.

So many of our traditions celebrate firsts and many "last days" we pass without every knowing that they are the last.  The last time your little girl asks for "uppie".  The last time they crawl.  The last time you feed them yourself.  The last diaper you change.

Today we woke up and our guinea pig, Marshie, was gone.  She had died sometime in the early morning; her body was still warm but she was gone.   Lindsay had been gone most of the day yesterday and so I had fed Marshie her greens which she ate happily.  I had noticed that she seemed a little "off" and we've had her several years, about the normal guinea pig lifespan, I suppose.  The thought crossed my mind that I hoped she would not die next week when we are gone and our neighbor is looking after her.   I made a special trip to Kahoots yesterday and bought her new hay because she hadn't been eating her hay and Lindsay thought it was because I had purchased the wrong kind.   I gave her a huge handful of the new hay - which she didn't seem to appreciate either - but she ate her greens, apple and carrots happily.   Looking back, perhaps I could have known that yesterday was her "last day" but I didn't and the day passed unnoticed.

Lindsay discovered her this morning and was devastated.  We all were, really.  Watching Lindsay, sobbing with grief, was heartbreaking for us all.  Marshie was her "first" pet and though we all "loved" her, Lindsay loved her most and best.   I watched Lindsay throughout the rest of the day, through the festivities of DanceFest and GoldDust Or Bust! - she put on a brave face but inside her heart was broken just a little.   Yesterday was a "last day" that I missed.  Could I have eased Lindsay's suffering if I hadn't?  If I had noted the day, told Lindsay that Marshie seemed "off".  Would that have prepared her?  Would it have softened the blow?

Of course I'll never know the answer to that and that kind of loss, softened or not, still leaves a hole, as I like to say, that is deep and wide.  I was also 10 when I experienced my first loss; actually it was the same loss - the death of my guinea pig "Petunia".  I've never forgotten it.  I don't remember how or when my first guinea pig, Timmy, died, perhaps because although he was my first guinea pig, he wasn't the first to go.  That distinction belongs to my second guinea pig Petunia, who came into my life second but left it first.  I remember every detail of Petunia's death because her loss was my first experience with the death of something close to me, my first "last day".   I knew that Petunia, or "Tuny" was not well when I left for school that morning but I didn't know when I left for school that it was be the first of the important "last days" in my life.  My mom came to school to tell me that Petunia had died.   I remember everything about that moment:  sitting on the bench outside of the school office, the quality of light, the sloping grass in front of me, the concrete walkway below my feet.   I remember how my mom just let me grieve and I remember how deeply deeply sad I felt.  Almost 40 years later I now understand that that "last day" led me here to this one when I held my little girl and listened to her sob.

I'm grateful to my friend Kelly Bruhn who called me last week to ask about her 8th grade son going to the Fair with his friends without parents.  What did I think of this, she wondered.   I didn't have an answer for her but something about that conversation hit home with me and that afternoon, after school, on a whim, I took my kids to the Fair.  We skipped our plans for the day and instead spent an afternoon full of rides, fair food and tons of just pure joy.  Will is entering Middle School and soon he won't tolerate afternoons at the Fair with his mother and younger sister, but on this day, this Maybe-Last-Day,  we shopped, we rode, we looked at farm animals, we ate "Fair Food", we checked out photography and art exhibits and both Lindsay and Will kept spontaneously telling me how much fun they were having, how great it was and how thankful they were that we had come.  In short, it was a nearly perfect afternoon and I did it because I recognized on this journey through life that these Last Days, when you can catch them, are special times to be lingered over, to be cherished.  I don't know for sure that that afternoon at the Fair will be one of those Last Days - maybe I will be given another "Last" day at the Fair with Will.  And maybe not.

I recognize that celebrating a Last Day is also a kind of grieving, a mourning for times and things that have come and gone.  It's a way to acknowledge their importance in our lives and, so doing, to say good-bye.  So today, on the cusp of another Last Day - Will's Last Day of Elementary School - I'm grateful.  I'm grateful to be here, recognizing and celebrating this "Last Day" and knowing we will never pass this way again.   So thanks Marshie and thanks Del Mar Heights Elementary - we love you.

Monday, March 5, 2012

A New Mommy For Lindsay

And this is the second story.

This morning when we are getting in the car to go to school Lindsay says to me: "I want a new mommy. Maybe one like Auntie Sheri" (her godmother, my very good friend).

Then she thinks for a moment.

"But Auntie Sheri is expensive," she continues, "And I don't have a lot of money. So I guess I am stuck with you."

I Did Not Ask For This

My mom says I have to write this stuff down - so since I had two new Lindsay stories that she insists I will want to remember and that Lindsay will want to hear sometime in the not-so-distant future I am following her motherly advice and writing (er, typing) them down for posterity (despite the fact that the following story is not one that I'm so sure *should* be saved for posterity).

First. a little background on Lindsay (since it's been about 2 years since I wrote anything here). She's a carnivore. She'll tell you that herself. Will will tell you that he is an omnivore (and truer words might never have been spoken) but Lindsay is our carnivore.

Yesterday after church we went out to breakfast with my in-laws at their golf club. My mother in law asked Lindsay what she is going to order, maybe pancakes, maybe the waffles ...

Lindsay says, "I'm going to have a plate of bacon and oranges."

Mother in law: (looking a bit taken aback) "Oh, okay. Well, would you like some toast with that honey?"

Lindsay: "No. I only want to order what I already said. Bacon and oranges." (Later she adds orange juice for a drink).

Mother in law: Okay then.

When it comes time to order I explain this to the waitress. When Lindsay says she wants oranges she is referring to the slice of orange garnish that they always put on the edge of the plate. Usually Lindsay just steals them from everyone at the table but yesterday she wanted her own.

Fast forward to the food arriving. The waitress puts down a plate of just what Lindsay ordered. Lindsay looks at the plate with some disdain. Then she reaches across the plate to the piece of green leaf lettuce onto which the chef has set the seven or eight slices of orange garnish. She picks it up very carefully between her index finger and her thumb, almost as if she was picking up a soiled tissue. She looks at me, then at my mother in law. "I didn't ask for THIS." she says accusingly.

Like, how stupid are you people? Did you not hear what I said? I SAID "'Bacon and oranges'. I did NOT say 'green leaf lettuce'."

My mother in law was laughing so hard that her eyes were tearing up.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lindsay's Sparkly Shoes

I'm not sure who in the universe thought it would be funny to give me a little girl who loves shoes but I'd like to find them and lodge a complaint! As if it isn't bad enough that Lindsay has to sleep with shoes (not on, holding them), today she put on a shoe-a-holic display worthy of a toddler Carrie Bradshaw.

Today I needed to stop by the mall to pick up some birthday gifts for two of my sisters in law. Both of my kids are in need of shoes so I decided I'd also do some shoe shopping while I was there. Will was at camp so I just had Lindsay and even though I failed to bring a stroller for her, since it was going to be a quick shopping trip and she's pretty easy to do things with I wasn't too worried. I should have been worried.

First store is Stride Rite for shoes. Despite the fact that she's not yet a year and a half old, Lindsay is already very particular about which shoes she likes. She kept going and getting this one hot pink pair which would have been fine except for the fact that they don't have them in her size. She goes and gets another pair, relatively similar, same color, but Stride Rite doesn't have those in her size either (6W). In the end I buy her white sandles (pretty standard toddler girl shoes) and a pair of white tennis shoes with light pink trim.

Two hundred dollars worth of shoes later (two pairs for Lindsay, two for Will) we head to a store to get something for Kevin's sister Lori. On the way Lindsay stops at the Bebe store (expensive, trendy, high end clothes) and she starts pointing in the window and saying "Dat!" "Dat!" Then she goes inside, still pointing and now also grabbing. I pick her up and carry her out and a few stores down before setting her down again to walk...we have no similar trouble passing by stores like Gap, GapBody, Banana Republic, even Childrens Place. Just Bebe.

Then I go into Nordstroms. Childrens shoe department, third floor. Immediately Lindsay finds the hot pink shoes similar to the ones she liked at Stride Rite. Grabs those. Climbs up on a chair, on her own, and proceeds to try and put it on her foot. I take her off the chair and move her. I am looking at the Pedipeds, she toddles over and finds these sparkly (and I mean sparkly) shoes - with gobs of fake "jewels" and rhinestones on them made by LelliKelly

Same procedure: climbs on chair, tries to shove on feet, has a fit when removed from chair. We repeat this one more time with another (similar) pair of glittery over the top shoes before I wise up and decide that the universe is telling me that I am not meant to buy her any Pediped shoes and I carry her, kicking and screaming, under my arm and down the escalator to the women's department to find something for my sister in law Kelly's birthday gift.

Sigh. How in the world did I, queen of the barefeet and flip flop, hater of pedicures, give birth to a shoe-a-holic who isn't even one and a half yet?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Burning Up

So I've been reading (really, studying) the Spirited Child handbook in the last few months (which I think has helped a lot - mostly me). I put something from that book into practice today with a lot of success. It's not often that something actually "works" over a very short period of time - I was so pleased with the technique that I wanted to write it down. Will can be very intense and really work himself up in a frenzy. One of the suggestions of the SC book is to give children alternative outlets for their feelings, particularly anger, instead of not allowing them to feel/be angry.

So this morning Will was all upset because I wouldn't let him wear his Spiderman costume to school. "But I have to save people," he argues. I tell him that if the costume is going to make him disagreeable that's not very super-hero like and I'll have to take the costume away until he's ready to act nicely (if the costume makes you have bad behavior then the costume is going to need to be put away yadda yadda). So then he tells me that he's very angry with me (which I think is a good step - that he's saying that versus just having a complete hissy fit).

I told him that it was okay for him to be angry with me; I understood that and I felt angry sometimes too. Then I asked him (this is from the book) if he'd like to draw a picture of how angry he felt. He said that yes he would so up we went to get the markers and paper out and he plopped himself down and began to draw. He started with black. Then he got yellow, red and after that pink. About this time Kevin came home from running and asked him what he was drawing. He tells Kevin very matter of factly that he's angry with me for not letting him wear his Spiderman costume and so he's drawing a picture of fire burning me up (maybe I was the pink?). Kevin, of course, is pretty taken aback but in typical Kevin fashion he keeps his cool and doesn't really react to it (I later explained the technique to him). He showed Kevin the fire and the black (which he said was the smoke) burning me up.

In the car on the way to school he was still angry with me (according to him) but when I picked him up from school and we got into the car he said to me right away, "Mommy, I'm not angry with you anymore" (I hadn't asked - I had just acted normally when I picked him up; he brought it up specifically).

Here's a picture of the drawing he made. It's a pretty obviously "angry" image - but I thought it was pretty cool that he could get his anger out that way (versus having a fit, hitting something or someone, or even just yelling). So I got fictionally burned up in the process. As my book suggests, parenting should be about progress, not perfection :-)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mom, How Come ...

Will: Mom, how come there's rain in the clouds if I can't see it, even if I go up in an airplane?

to Ty: Have you heard of "On Beyond Zebra? Which letters do you know?

to Ty: You can't see the air but you can feel it, right?

June 21, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Things I Hope I Never Forget

Lindsay at the fair, her first time seeing a cow. I had been wheeling her around in her stroller but when we got to the AgriFair building I took her out and let her go into the petting zoo. The floor of the petting zoo is a thick layer of shavings and normally Lindsay is pretty particular about her footing (not venturing out into deep sand, often not even wanting to walk on wet grass) but I put her down and she saw the cows and I just saw the lightbulb go off. "Moo!" she squealed and headed over to the cows as fast as her little tripod walk would take her repeating "Moo! Moo! Moo!" all the way. Then "Sheep!" Too bad I had never told her about goats (bad mom). She had no words for them but she walked right over and patted them too.

It all just clicked in her head that these things we'd been seeing in books are really animals, not some little plastic toy.