Dear Mallory:

Tomorrow you will be five years old. You can write your name (and mine); you can draw bunnies and spaceships and people and flowers; you can make yourself “go high” on the swings; you can get lost in the imaginary worlds you create with your dolls. You ask the strangest, most impossible questions; you beg for dessert seventeen times a day; you scream louder than I ever thought possible for a child. You can probably do many, many things that you claim that you can’t (pedal a bicycle, for example, or put on your own shoes). You love family hugs and ice cream, princesses and dancing, singing and “Pinky Dinky Doo.” You like to rhyme words, to do art projects, and to dictate elaborate notes to your friends. You love to play with your friends and get wild with excitement when we have visitors. You prefer dresses to pants and you don’t like to have your hair brushed. You have beautiful hazel eyes with long lashes and when you’re telling us something very, very important you squeeze your eyes together and curl up the left side of your mouth. You are a sweet, sweet big sister to Phoebe (when you’re not knocking her over). Your trademark phrases are “always remember that,” “are you telling the truth?” and “how do you know?” You’re not a baby anymore, but you still like to sit in my lap, and I’m always happy to have you there.

Five years ago, a few hours after you were born, you and I were all alone in our hospital room. You wanted to nurse and I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing, but somehow I got you latched on and you gave it a try and your little, dark blue eyes rolled back in your head and you smiled like you were in heaven. That’s when I fell in love with you, and I swore that I would do anything in my power to keep you just that happy for the rest of your life.

I learned soon enough that it would never again be quite that easy (although sometimes I have to remember that it’s not that hard, either – for as much as you love big spectacles like Sesame Street Live or Disney on Ice, you also love little things like surprise picnics in the yard, or just sitting down to read a story). But I’ve already failed spectacularly too -- lately another phrase you use often is, “Mommy, you’re mean!” You’ve had to learned – in some cases, earlier than I’d have liked – that you can’t always have what you want; that sometimes I have to leave you; that not everyone else in the world wants to be your friend (as impossible as that is for me to believe); that things don’t always work out the way you think they should. And what I’ve learned is that it’s my job as your mom not to make you happy, but to give you enough confidence and support and love so that you can create happiness within yourself.

One night, probably six months ago, we were coming home from someplace and you fell asleep in the car. I had to carry you through the garage, through the house, up the stairs, into your room, and then hoist you up onto your bunk bed. You’re a heavy kid and I wasn’t even halfway there before I realized I couldn’t carry you any further. My shoulders were singing, my back was on fire, my wrists were about to snap. But I held on, and I got you there, because the alternative was letting you fall.

And that’s what parenting is about – doing more, every day, than I consider myself capable of doing. It’s pouring endless cups of juice and making millions of peanut butter sandwiches. It’s reading “Max’s Dragon Shirt” over and over and over when I wish I could be reading The New Yorker instead. It’s listening to the same ridiculous Elmo tape every time we get in the car, for four years. Its countless bath times, and arguments about bedtime, and tedious explanations (every morning!) about what’s going to happen that day. It’s hundreds of reminders not to push your sister, or sit on the dog, or stand on the coffee table. It’s answering questions and playing games and complimenting artwork and finding socks (why can’t you keep those socks on?) and giving horsey rides and saying “Great job!” even when my patience is utterly exhausted. And it’s loving you more and more each and every minute of every day.

So here’s my new promise to you, my no-longer-a-baby girl. I have every confidence that you are smart and brave and strong enough to go down life’s road on your own two feet. But if you ever need me to, I will carry you as far as I can: and then I will carry you farther.

Happy birthday, ladybug. I love you!




Some of my favorite moments from our Thanksgiving trip:

1. Seeing Mallory snuggled up in bed with her cousin Noah.
2. My nephew Rhett's comment, when going to bed Wednesday night, that "I'm just trying to get through another night 'til Thanksgiving."
3. Phoebe shouting "Bounce! Bounce!" at the trampoline.
4. Mallory taking my dad's hand when she crossed the street.
5. My nephew Cameron coming to me for a hug when he hurt his finger.
6. Phoebe playing the "push-you-down" game with Aimee on the trampoline.
7. The enthusiasm with which Rhett and Nicolas greeted one another -- they're going to be best friends for life.
8. The look on the kids' faces when the fireworks started at the Christmas tree lighting.
9. Phoebe chasing after Grandmom yelling "Mom-mom-mom-mom!"
10. Mallory and Noah pretending to go on a "date" while Rhett and Nicolas dared them to kiss one another.
11. This conversation between Rhett & Nicolas. N: Texas is bigger than Oklahoma. R: Don't say that, I don't like it when you say things like that. N: Well, it's okay, because Oklahoma is bigger than Maine.
12. Mallory, Phoebe and Isabel sharing a bubble bath.
13. All the kids chanting "Phoe-be! Phoe-be! Phoe-be!" while they bounced around her on the trampoline.
14. Late night conversations with my sisters and brother.
15. Phoebe and Isabel running to me for kisses through the trampoline net. (Can you tell we spent a lot of time on the trampoline?)
16. Mallory saying "grace".

And that's just for starters. We had a wonderful time. I'm sad it's over. I can't wait to see everyone again. Posted by Picasa



Every afternoon when Mallory gets home from preschool, Phoebe just goes wild with excitement. She flaps her arms and squeals and says "Mal! Mal!" over and over again, and then Mallory comes to give her a big hug, and then they dance together for a few minutes. A few days ago my in-laws were having new blinds installed, and the installation guy witnessed this little scene and said, "I wish my kids would do that. That's the sweetest thing I've ever seen."

I hope they're always that happy to see each other after being separated.

I know I've going to be that happy tomorrow when we get to Oklahoma City.

Happy Thanksgiving!


There's Your Trouble

I'm too excited about our upcoming trip to Aimee's house to post anything coherent. But I have to tell you that in the past week, Mallory has referred to the Dixie Chicks as both the Chixie Sticks and the Shrinky Dinks. If the Chicks are shopping about for a name change, I think those are both excellent alternatives.

Also, in the continuing saga of words-Phoebe-uses-to-respond-to-questions, Phoebe can now say "Okay!" Yeah, no, okay -- she's got all the bases covered. And yeah, it's very cute coming from her little voice. On Saturday we were playing outside and Mallory got some sand in her eye and was whimpering, and Phoebe went and crouched down beside her and said, "Okay?"

And, because you're all dying to know, we decided NOT to get the art desk for Mallory for Christmas. We're getting it for her birthday instead! Ha! I hope it fulfills my expectations as being something useful instead of confirming my fears that it will just take up space. And I'm also going to order her a copy of And Tango Makes Three as a demonstration of my support of gay penguin rights! (The book is based on the true story of two male penguins in a zoo who adopted a baby penguin. Apparently some parents are protesting its inclusion in school libraries because, I don't know, they think the penguins are sinful or something. Geez. They're penguins!) We bought invitations for Mallory's birthday party this weekend and I was wondering aloud what time the party should start. Mallory said, "I think we should wake up on my birthday morning and have breakfast and get dressed and have the party right then!" Her enthusiasm was palpable and I hated to explain that very few other people would be excited about birthday cake and bouncy houses at 7:45 a.m. on a Saturday.

Mallory's birthday is on a Saturday this year; she was born on a Sunday. She's almost completed a calendar cycle (to use, I'm sure, the technical term for it). How did she get so old?


Shoulda Seen This One Coming

A few weeks ago I wrote about Phoebe's adorable "Yeah." Nowadays, she's expanded her affirmation repertoire to include "Ess" and "Ummm" accompanied by an emphatic nod of her head, but we still get a cute little "yeah!" a few times a day.

What I should have remembered is that when there is a yeah, "no" cannot be far behind.

Phoebe says "No" very nicely, and quite often, and sometimes when it's obvious she means the opposite, and sometimes when it doesn't even make sense. "Phoebe, should we change your diaper?" "NO!" "Phoebe, do you want juice?" "No!" she says, while gesturing frantically at the orange juice carton. "Phoebe, do you want to read this book?" "No!" she says, while thrusting the book into my hands and trying to climb up into my lap. "Phoebe, what are you doing in there?" I asked in the direction of the dining room this morning, when it had gotten a little too quiet. "No!" she replied.

We had a rough night a few nights ago -- she kept coughing, then her diaper leaked all over the sheets, then she just kept thrashing and flailing and moaning, and finally I -- whose font of patience is mere millimeters deep at 4:30 am anyway -- said, "Phoebe, you are driving me insane. Will you just go to sleep?"


I'm not sure why I bothered to ask!

Happy Birthday to my mom today (see Aimee's post for a tribute) and to my mother-in-law tomorrow!


Books, books, books

As I lamented in yesterday’s post, I love to read and I don’t get to do it enough lately. If I had to choose between giving up reading or giving up my kids, well, I’d sure miss my kids. I found this quiz on someone else’s blog and just had to answer it. Sorry it goes on and on and on and on…

1. A book that changed your life.

Well, there hasn’t been just one, so in chronological order: Nancy Drew and the Sign of the Twisted Candlesticks: this was the first “chapter book” I ever read (thanks to Gran Valoris for giving it to me for Christmas, 1979!) and reading it made me feel so grown up and smart. Ditto The Count of Monte Cristo, which was the first “classic” book I read (in the fifth grade.) Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier just amazed me. Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy (which actually has four books – The Crystal Caves, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment, The Wicked Day) started my fascination with all things Arthurian, while Beryl Bainbridge’s The Birthday Boys sparked my interest in South Polar exploration. And The Sound and the Fury is the book that convinced me that I’ll never be a novelist (because if I can’t write that well, then what’s the point?).

2. A book you've read more than once.

I am a great re-reader and always have been. When I was 10 or 11, I must’ve read The Outsiders and The Westing Game forty times each. At least. I re-read less often now, but when I’m in the mood for an old favorite I usually pick up Anna’s Book by Barbara Vine or Talking it Over by Julian Barnes. The Solace of Leaving Early, by Haven Kimmel, is a book that I started re-reading the minute I finished it because I loved it so much.

3. A book you'd want on a desert island.

The Once and Future King by T.H.White. It’s a huge book, so it would keep me occupied for a long time; it’s funny, which is something you’d want on a desert island; it’s beautifully written so I don’t think I’d get tired of it if I had to read it over and over and over again.

4. A book that made you giddy.

I remember grinning like an idiot at the end of Catch-22. “Yossarian jumped.” Whether I understood the book as a whole or not is up for debate (I was, I think, in 10th grade), but that was some kind of perfect ending.

5. A book that you wish would be written.

What I want is a book that reveals age-old secrets and mysteries. What really happened to the Lindbergh baby? Did Jeffrey MacDonald (the Fatal Vision guy) really kill his family? What about OJ? I guess those aren’t so much age-old secrets, but you see what I’m getting at. A perfect book in this vein is The Romanovs: The Final Chapter, in which it is revealed that Anastasia did, in fact, die with the rest of the Royal Family, and the imposter who claimed to be her for fifty years was just that, an imposter. (And interestingly, the final proof of this – a lock of the imposter’s hair which provided a DNA sample – was found in an envelope in a box of books in a secondhand bookstore I used to frequent when I lived in Chapel Hill. Well, that was interesting to me at least.)

6. A book that wracked you with sobs.
Where the Red Fern Grows. And, hm, I don’t remember a recent book that’s made me cry (other than Dog Heaven). I think I got teary at the end of Atonement by Ian McEwan – so, so sad. But “wracked with sobs,” no.

7. A book you wish had never been written.
Well, I don’t want to wish any book out of existence. There are many books I wish I hadn’t had to read, including…well, here’s the thing. When I was, I don’t know, probably 6 or 7, we went on a family vacation to Ruidoso, NM. We stayed in my grandparent’s condo and for some reason there was a copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn lying around and one morning, because we had complained of being bored, my dad started to read it to me and Jana. (Okay, it’s possible that it was in fact The Adventures of Tom Sawyer instead, I don’t know.) Daddy read the section in which Tom and Huck were hiding somewhere, and they had to be very still and quiet so as not to be discovered, but they started to itch all over and it was tortuous to them that they couldn’t scratch. Dad was reading in a very animated way but Jana and I just didn’t get it and I’m sure he called us both knuckleheads for not appreciating this classic bit of humor. But ever since then, whenever I’m reading a book I absolutely hate, I think about that passage…because when I'm reading a book I loathe, I feel like my brain itches all over, and I feel mentally squirmy and sometimes I even get enraged at the awfulness of the book (yeah, I should calm down). Books that induce this feeling in me include:

Pamela by Samuel Richardson and Tom Jones by Henry Fielding, and really any piece of fiction written in the 18th century.

Ironically, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. This may be because I had to read this book for a class almost every year, it seems, between 7th grade and my last year in graduate school. And I appreciate Twain’s intelligence and talent but oh how I hate the dialect, and the duke and the dauphin, and the feud, and the adventures in general, and just please, if I never have to read this book again I will die happy.

The Quincunx by Charles Palliser. I wanted so badly to love this book, and it has all the elements that I usually adore. It’s long, it’s faux-Victorian, it’s full of mystery and intrigue and old family secrets and hidden journals and lore…and yet I hated, absolutely hated, the whingy narrator, and I spent weeks and weeks reading his 4700 pages because in spite of everything I, too, wanted to find out who his father was and what was the big secret that had plagued his family for centuries…but at the end of the 6830 pages, guess what? He didn’t find out. Oh my god I have never been so mad in my life.

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing. I was reading this book because I thought I should, but I really disliked almost everything about it. Then one of the characters made some sort of statement about breaking free from expectations and rules and, among other things, not reading books because you thought you should, and I thought, okay then, and I stopped reading it. No regrets! And mostly I follow this rule – if I hate a book, I stop reading it (much easier now that I’m not in school).

And, most recently, The Ghost Orchid by Carol Goodman. I liked Goodman’s previous books but this one started out good and then spiraled into stupidity and I kept reading just because I had purchased it new! As a hardcover! And I wanted to get my money’s worth! But it was really awful. It was laughably bad. I hope she recovers before she writes another one.

I guess I would also include on this list the true-crime books Small Sacrifices and The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule. They were well-written but I really wish I didn’t know that there were such evil people in the world.

8. A book you are currently reading.
Digging to America by Anne Tyler.

9. A book you've been meaning to read.
Oh, this list is far too long. And so is this post so I’m going to stop now. But here’s your assignment – answer just one question from this list in the comments. If you want. Or if you have your own blog, you could answer them all!


Terms of Endearment

Last year, every day when I dropped Mallory off at preschool she’d ask for a “Big Queeze.” She’d “queeze” me and then “queeze” Phoebe too. This summer she went through a weird kissing phase – she’d come up to me and say, “Don’t kiss!” and then kiss my right cheek, say “Don’t kiss!” again and then kiss my left cheek (the point was that I was not allowed to kiss her). Lately she’s been requesting a “hug with arms” (because those armless hugs are no good, I agree). Yesterday she hugged me and then said, “Mommy, I just can’t stop hugging and kissing you!”

She’s been very affectionate, as well, in the notes she dictates. In the past week she’s had me write notes that say, for example, “Phoebe is my favorite kind of friend,” and “Phoebe and Mallory really really love Krista.” I can’t reveal too much about the note she dictated for my mom’s birthday card because it was just put in the mail today, but rest assured it’s full of lovey-dovey stuff too.

And it’s a good thing that she’s so full of affection lately, because she’s been a real pain in the neck lately too. On Saturday she drew, with marker, all over her bunk bed. She picks on Phoebe relentlessly. She whines incessantly, she pinches me when I thwart her, and she refuses to comply with basic requests (brush your teeth, drink your milk). And Saturday night she drew me into this conundrum:

“Mommy, do you love me?”

“Of course I do.”

“Do you love me all the time?”

“Yes, all the time, no matter what.”

“Even when I do bad things?”



“Yes. I don’t like the bad things you do, but I still love you no matter what.”

“Oh. So then it’s okay for me to do those bad things!”

“Well, no.”

“But you’ll forgive me, right?”

“Well, yes, but that doesn’t mean—“

“So then it’s okay!”

“Yes but….”

And she wasn’t really interested in hearing my thoughts on the matter after that. So I’m trapped! I’m doomed, as she is fond of saying, because I’m not quite able to explain the concept of goodness for goodness sake to my almost-5-year-old.

Just Finished Reading

Lord Byron’s Novel: The Evening Land by John Crowley. I didn’t like this book well enough to do a review of it. If you feel you would enjoy reading a fake novel by Lord Byron, then have at it; if not, save your money or rest your library card. I just have to say that it’s a sad, sad thing that this is only the fourth book I’ve read since beginning this blog, way back in August. Four books in four months! I used to read four books a week. Darn kids!


Separation Anxiety

Today in an email to Aimee I made reference to my oldest child's stubbornness and added, "I may have to leave her in Oklahoma with you!" Naturally I would never do that (although today for the first time ever I threatened Mallory with spanking because she would not get dressed for school -- it worked but I wasn't very impressed with myself afterwards). But it reminded me of an unusual childcare decision made by a former supervisor of mine. Which I will share with you now.

This woman -- let's call her Sylvia -- was from Panama; she came to New York when she was 20, got married, got a job, had two kids. When her kids were still very young -- I think 3 and 1 -- she had to go back to work. She interviewed some nannies, she toured some daycare facilities, but nothing felt right to her. So she sent her kids to Panama to live with her parents. She didn't see her kids -- still babies! -- for months at a time, until the oldest one was old enough to start school, and then they both came back to America.

I hate to be judgmental of her, because she did what she felt she had to do, and being a working mom is hard enough without people judging your for it, as I well know -- but wow, can you imagine being away from your small children for that length of time? It boggles my mind. I feel guilty if I'm running 15 minutes late to pick the girls up after work. And I can't fathom missing those toddler/preschool years, despite those many moments of exhaustion and frustration. For the record, Sylvia now has an excellent relationship with both of her kids -- in fact, her daughter and the daughter's son now live with her (the daughter's fiance was murdered when the little boy was about 2 -- very sad story). So I guess those years apart didn't damage the mother/child bond in any serious way. It's still not something I would ever contemplate doing myself.

On a related note -- Phoebe, as I've mentioned, attends a Parent's Morning Out program at our church, one day a week for three hours. There are two "paid caregivers" and one mother volunteer each week. One of the caregivers is having a baby next month, so she won't be around much longer. The other caregiver is, well, mean. She's a mean lady. She has a set of twins in first grade and a 6-month-old baby, and, she told me a few weeks ago, wants to be pregnant again by Christmas (!), but every time I've seen her at church functions with her kids, she's yelling at them. In fact last weekend we were at the church’s Harvest Day fall festival and Mallory and I were in line to do “Plinko” behind her and her son, and she was yelling at him because one of his shoes had come untied. Another person nearby looked over and said to her, “Are you sure you want another one?” in a joking-but-not-really kind of way. The woman just rolled her eyes, but I was thinking, Exactly! I mean, every parents has moments of frustration, but she seems to have no patience whatsoever. And she’s in charge of a bunch of 1-year-olds! To be fair, yelling at your own kids is your own prerogative (boy does that look misspelled), and I’ve never seen her yell at any of the PMO babies – but I still feel funny leaving Phoebe with her. If it weren’t for the fact that there is always another mommy in the room, I might withdraw Phoebe from the program altogether. Maybe she will get pregnant and have to quit. Sigh. Why does everything have to be so difficult?

ART for the Day

At 16 months, Phoebe loves:

Talking on the phone (still!)
Playing outside (she calls her swing the “whee!”)
Orange juice
Shredded cheese (and what a huge mess THAT makes)
The bead loops on her busy box
Going “bump” down the stairs on her bottom
Saying “shh!” to the dog

Phoebe hates:

When her hands get stuck in her sleeves while getting dressed
Wearing socks
All vegetables, apparently
Having her face washed after a meal

She’s a great singer, too. Have I mentioned the Elmo tape we have to listen to every time we ride in the car? Otherwise known as the bane of my existence? Phoebe can chime in with the last word on almost every line of every song. She’s especially good with “Elmo’s Song” (all those la-la-la’s) and “Elmo You Can Drive My Car” – Mallory sings the Beep-beeps, and Phoebe delivers the big “YEAH!” at the end. It almost makes the tape bearable for me!

PS Thanks for all the help on the desk decision (NOT!). I still don't know what to do about that. I like Aimee's rolling-cart idea...maybe I'll go out at lunch and see what I can find.


Decisions, decisions

So I'm trying to decide if we should get this art desk, pictured at right, for Mallory for Christmas.

It's not exactly the most attractive desk, furnishing-wise, in the universe, but it holds a lot of stuff. And it looks sturdy, so Phoebe could use it when Mallory outgrows it. And it's not that expensive. And it holds a lot of stuff! Did I say that already?

Mallory has a ton of arts and crafts supplies and lately her very favorite thing to do is "projects." She asks to do a project about fifty million times a day. And we don't really have a good place for her to do these projects. We have a kitchen table, but, you know, we often have to eat there. We have a huge dining room table, but it's mostly covered with other kinds of junk and really, it's almost too big for her to sit at comfortably. So her art supplies are in constant movement between the kitchen and the dining room, or sometimes the living room, and I swear if she asks me one more time to find her markers or her paper or her "kid scissors" I will scream.

So I think she needs her own place. And I think she would actually really LOVE to have her own desk to work at. We could put it in our living room and she could project to her heart's content.

I'm just wondering if it would just become another horizontal surface to collect junk. I'm wondering if she would never use it at all. And then we'd have this unattractive plastic stuff-collector in our living room.

Your thoughts?


I'll save this post to show to her first boyfriend

I dreaded the prospect of toilet-training from the moment I discovered I was pregnant with Mallory. It just seemed to be a parenting challenge – necessitating routine-setting and negotiating and attention-paying -- that I wouldn’t be up to. Either I was right about myself, or Mallory absorbed my dread from the womb, because all my fears were realized in the struggle to get her out of diapers.

There was, in fact, a week when she was almost 2 ½ that I thought we’d conquered the whole thing effortlessly. She suddenly was going to the potty on cue, all by herself! I was thrilled! And smug. And promptly punished for my smugness, because for some reason I no longer remember, it was all over and we were back to square one. Then for the next year we bumbled along without much progress, in part because she was at daycare three days a week and at my in-laws two days a week and home the rest of the time and all of us caregivers never seemed to get our potty-training-Mallory-strategies aligned. And then I got pregnant and felt so miserable for about nine weeks that I didn’t care what she did so long as I didn’t have to clean anything up. And then suddenly she was 3 ½ and I started to panic because a) I was about to have another baby and b) she was starting preschool in August and HAD to be absolutely trained by that point.

Luckily, once Phoebe was born, something clicked in Mallory’s head and she left diapers behind. Well, except for nighttime, which, well, we’re still not ready to talk about that yet. And except for the fact that it always was, and still always is, a struggle to just get her to go pee, for heaven’s sake. For one thing, she has the bladder of a camel, apparently, and really only seems to pee about twice a day. But the main problem is that she has instituted a series of Condition That Must Be Met before she will even enter the bathroom, and these are enough to drive any loving parent up the freaking wall.

First, she developed what can only be explained as a pathological need for privacy. I’d ask her to go to the bathroom, and she’d say, “Are you going to hear me?” I’d say No, and then she’d ask everyone else in the vicinity (even wee little Phoebe) if they were going to hear her. Only after everyone had said No, would she actually go. Then, for extra fun, she started tacking on the disclaimer, “I’m just Mallory going potty,” except that she was still pronouncing her name “Wowee” at this point. This disclaimer was added at the height of her pretend-play phase, when she was always pretending to be Cinderella, or Sandy from Grease, or Snow White, or whoever – I guess she didn’t want anyone associating her fantasy selves with something as mundane as the potty. So -- “Are you going to hear me go potty?” she’d ask me. “No,” I’d say. “I’m just Wowee going potty!” she’d add, before moving on to someone else. It was even more fun when we were at my in-laws and she’d go through this routine with Chris’s grandmother, who is old and slightly deaf and also the slightest bit confused in general anyway. “Are you going to hear me?” she’d ask Gigi, and Gigi would say, “What? Hear you do what? What are you doing?” while the other grown-ups in the room, hip to the jive, would be frantically mouthing “Just say NO!” in her direction until she caught on, because otherwise we’d all be there all day and Mallory would be no closer to conceding to void her bladder.

Eventually she moved past of her fear of being overheard and moved on to a fear of bugs. “I’m going to go potty, will you come check for bugs?” she’d say. So I’d have to go inspect every inch of the bathroom for possible insects and spiders. There never was a bug, by the way, not even once.

Next up was a variation of the privacy requirement, updated with her favorite phrase. “I’m going potty,” she’d say. “Always remember don’t come in.” Or, “Always remember don’t unlock the door.” Or, “Always remember I want Mommy to help me wipe.” Or, charmingly, “Always remember don’t smell me.”

And by the way, if you can believe this of a four-year-old, she doesn’t at all respect other people’s need for privacy. Once she made me make a sign that said “PRIVATE!” and tape it to the bathroom door before she went in. A few days later I was in there and she came knocking at the door. “I’ll be out in a minute,” I said. “But I want to come in!” she said. “No, you need to wait,” I said. I heard the sound of ripping tape. “But I took down the private sign, so that means I can come in!” she said.

This weekend saw the return of the “checking for bugs” requirement. Sigh.

Diapers were easier.

ART for the Day

Phoebe has developed a habit that, while cute, is hauntingly reminiscent of Mallory’s pre-bathroom antics. When asked if she wants to take a bath, she flaps her arms in excitement and squeals and giggles and shouts “Ba! Ba!” to everyone in the room. “Ba!” she’ll yell at Chris. “Yes, a bath!” he’ll say. “Ba!” she’ll holler at Mallory. “Yes, a bath,” Mallory will say. “Ba!” she’ll say to me. “Yes, a bath!” I’ll reply. Then, suitably reassured then she will in fact be taking a bath, she’ll stop yelling “Ba!” at the top of her voice. Also, she’s started to say “Burp!” after she, well, burps, and she’ll keep saying it until someone acknowledges her and says, “Excuse you!” Which is also reminiscent of a part of my favorite scene from It’s a Wonderful Life, but that’s worth another post.


Tricks, treats, and a trip to the farm


Here's my dainty ballerina. About three-quarters of the way around our block while trick-or-treating, she decided that tennis shoes would be much more comfortable than her ballet slippers. Phoebe the lion did the rounds in her stroller, because when set free she ONLY wanted to walk in the middle of the street, and woe betide the adult who tried to hold her hand. She has developed quite the fondness for M&M's, so Chris and I have to be very secretive when we sneak things out of her bucket. (What, we should let a 1-year-old eat her own Halloween candy?)

Yesterday I accompanied Mallory's preschool class for an "educational tour" of a local pumpkin farm. The kids made butter and saw cows and chickens and ducks. At bedtime I asked Mallory what her favorite part about the farm was, and she said, "Well, at the farm, I didn't have to do any of those things I'm supposed to do at school."

"Like what?" I said.

"Like learn things," she explained.

Yes, heaven forbid we should learn things.

One of the features of the tour was "Milkshake," a month-old calf. He was being hand-raised because his mother had died. He was white with black spots and reminded me of Peanut, the third and last of the calves that Jana and I raised back on our farm. I remember that I was very excited when we got Blackie, our first calf, and that the excitement waned very quickly -- after about two days of getting up half-an-hour early, and mixing the vile-smelling formula, and then getting covered with calf slobber in the process of feeding, I told my dad, "I'm not going to feed Blackie anymore." He replied that it wasn't for me to decide. I was a bit shocked by that. Looking back, that's one of the defining moments of my childhood -- or, more specifically, one of the moments that define the end of my childhood (it was a long process, perhaps not even now fully complete).

By the way, I'm a bit relieved to find out that I'm not the only one who has problems with symbols. Maybe I'm not so deficient after all. Or if I am, at least I'm in good company!

ART for the Day

My mother-in-law just called and told me something that makes me so proud of my little girl. Mallory has a classmate who lives with her grandmother because both of her parents were killed in two separate car accidents about a year ago. (Is your heart broken already? All day yesterday at the field trip, I kept looking at this little girl and wanting to give her a big hug.) When Claudia went to pick Mallory up at school today, her teacher said that she overheard the little girl tell Mallory that she lived with her grandmother. "Where's your mommy?" Mallory asked, and the girl said that she died. "Well, where's your daddy?" Mallory asked, and the little girl said that he died, too. Mallory sat and thought about this for a minute, and then reached over and gave the girl and hug and said, "I am so sorry to hear that." The teacher said it brought tears to her eyes. I'm so proud of the way Mallory handled that; I couldn't have predicted that she'd behave so appropriately. I kind of hate that she now knows that it's possible to become an orphan at the age of four, but at least she responded in just the right way.
 Posted by Picasa