This picture is of us waiting for a park date with new friends? Acquaintances? I'm not sure what the word is. She gets my dark humor. Though she is from Alabama, she does not mind that I have not waxed my eyebrows, painted my toes, and barely remember to brush my teeth - so more than an acquaintance, I think. A liked acquaintance? Collectively we have 6 kids that tumble down in ages like Russian stacking dolls and somehow they all are red-faced and sweaty and easy to put to sleep after a playdate. So maybe more than a liked acquaintance. A preferred person and her children?
I took the photo one-handed with one of those little auto-everything digital cameras while T-Bird gnawed happily on the thick curve midway in my trapezius as it arches from my shoulder blades to the base of my skull. He hasn't any teeth yet, despite the foreshadowing drool, and it didn't hurt - his gnawing that is. This picture is of all of us waiting for our first official meeting at the park and the gnawing in my heart did hurt. Would we get along as we did that first surprise charging of the green slopes at the Lake Oswego summer concert? Would my children disrobe and display their feral fairy selves or stomp off in a teary discharge over a disagreement regarding truck-playing etiquette? Would she know that though my foot is always in my mouth, I am unusually eloquent and always with kind-treaded intentions? Would she know that I have reasonable grammar, an exciting vocabulary and that I am a good speller when not sleep deprived?
She was late by twenty minutes and I thought ALREADY! Already I have screwed up the place! Or maybe the time! Or maybe the place and the time! I texted her with my gnawing happy infant doing the yay-life-is-totally-great-coo-while-you're-at-it-dance on my shoulder and misspelled most everything important. One became imr. Park became oark. All these errors and more. How would she know that at least when the chips were down she could count on me to spell when I clearly couldn't even spell one handed with a creepy auto-correct that corrects nothing whilst balancing a very happy busy baby? "I can multi-task!" I wanted to text to her. "Really! I can! Even some of my best friends are multi-taskers and they would call me a multi-tasker too!"
I laughed at my self and my gnawing little worries. Clearly, I was not ready to be a new face in the crowd again. Little M asked me from behind his growing sand pile what I was laughing about. I chuckled that I was worried that our new friends wouldn't know I was a good speller. He scratched sand out of his head and examined his fingernails. He said, "You have more to worry about than that. We are a smart and kind family. They just have to figure it out." Just then, G moaned that she had to use the toilet, T-Bird spit up on my shirt, and Little M tripped and hurt his knee as he ran out of the sandbox to greet the newly arrived new friends. errr acquaintances? errr preferred companions?
I think they did figure out that we are smart and kind and even delightfully odd as we've had a few nice visits at the park since our moaning, spit-up, bloody, teary first official minutes. She has watched our collective brood as we've shared tasks like snack sharing and swing pushing and she has kindly suggested a spell-check program that might work for spellers like me.
Monday, August 1, 2011
I am a "yes mum" when Big M goes away. The children ask if they can eat ice lollies for lunch? Yes! Might they have a 3 hour visit to their favorite park? Yes! Would it be possible to watch PBS Kids/CBB's until their brains ooze out their ears and pool in a sticky glutinous mass on the floor? Yes! I adopt "low-impact-parenting" when Big M leaves because it makes his absence more enjoyable, especially since the kids have not caught on just yet and their requests haven't been death-defying. So, last week, the kids were quite lucky when we stumbled upon our adored and missed "Barbara's Puffins" brand of cereal. It is a naturally sweetened, whole grain cereal that is unheard of in the UK and it is our favorite. What's more, Barbara came out with a peanut butter and chocolate type during our sojourn abroad. The kids spied this and began to wiggle and moan the beginnings of their collective "please-mum dance." But they needn't complete it. Big M was out of town and I said YES! immediately.
Also, when Big M is away, the rule at our house is that if you would like to eat before I am done nursing T-Bird, then you must make it yourself. You gasp, but the kitchen is usually cleaner than if I try to juggle 3 kids' needs within a whiney 5 minute window. Plus, the children are single-minded without help. Food, as soon as possible. That's it. No fuss, few bowls and accessories... Ideal really. Though, I confess to leaving subliminal suggestions out the night before like cereal, apples, bowls, spoons - even bananas with pre-cut/easy peel stems sometimes.
The next morning, the kids were so excited for their peanut butter and chocolate puffins that they didn't even moan at me bedside and I didn't have to remind them of the "if you must eat right now, you must make it yourself" rule. They just woke, stumbled to the kitchen, and ate. It was a quick few minutes before Little M crawled into bed beside T-Bird and myself. I thought the cereal must have been quite a hit! Quick eats and he's even ready for a snooze! Amazing! "How was the cereal?" Little M nodded a yes and dozed off again next to T-Bird. I thought the cereal must be magical, beyond words! I went into the kitchen. Little M's bowl still had the chocolate puffs in it. Perhaps Little M wasn't feeling that well? Perhaps that was his reason for a speechless reply? His snooze? It most likely wasn't the cereal, I thought, as G didn't even carry it to the table she was that excited. She just sat on the floor, crunching away in that nascent awakening way. I bent down and sniffed her sleep-tousled head. Heaven. I peaked into her bowl. All of the chocolate puffs were still floating in the soy milk. She was only picking out the peanut butter ones with her spoon. I asked, "How is the cereal? Do you like the chocolate ones?" She whispered in that hesitant way that tells me she has an answer but doesn't want to be rude, "I don't know. The chocolate ones look like poop."
At first, I didn't go back to work due to Little M's anaphylaxis. But now that he is older and we have a safety routine that we both feel comfortable with, I haven't gone back to work due to our overseas status and also due to my belief that someone in their family should witness their growth. But, after reading the article that families with working mums do no long term damage to their children, our return to the USA and cereal that looks like poop, I think I might not have to witness everything...