Life and Carrots

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Son is kneeling on his chair by the table. His eyes are focused intently and he’s breathing through his mouth, like he always does when he’s really concentrating. I’m gently holding a carrot on the sides so Son can pull the vegetable peeler down the length of the carrot by himself. Son’s dark brown eyes contrast with the carrot’s bright orange. It’s the first time he’s done this. Right before this moment, I gave him a serious talk about the sharpness and danger of the vegetable peeler. He’s trying hard to do a good job, to be careful. He pulls down gently and a perfect length of peel comes away. We both exhale.

Son has wanted to wield the vegetable peeler for at least half his life. It has remained stubbornly out of his reach until now. The way he holds it, turning it gently in his hands, looking at it from every angle, tells me how satisfying this moment is for him.

I think about growing up and how so much of it is just waiting for our bodies and minds to catch up with our desires. I know for Son, that wait can seem endless sometimes. It’s nice to be here with him when he can finally grasp something that’s been out of reach for so long.

What are you grateful for today?

Help

We signed up for some parenting help, because parenting is confusing and challenging and bewildering sometimes. We’re lucky enough to live in a place where we could ask a lovely lady to come visit us, chat with us, and give us some help; for free.

We’re sitting, the lady, Husband and I, in our living room. I ask a question, and the lady tells me exactly what to say in a specific circumstance and how to say it. It’s a little thing, but it breaks open a dam and relief floods through my body, threatening to spill out as tears. Because you can read so many books and blogs and think you’re doing what they suggest but it doesn’t always work and you don’t know why and it’s all so general, never specific and here finally is an answer. Maybe, I hope. I can see how it’s different from what I’ve been doing. Firm and kind in all the best ways and I can finally see how we can do things better.

What’s the best moment of your day so far? What are you grateful for?

Park

Son, Daughter and I walked through our woods, (past the Saskatoons) to a park we don’t go to very often. Lately I like going there because it means Son gets a lot of exercise, which is so good for him.

Son longs to play with other kids, but he often finds it hard to connect. Kids all have different agendas, and interactions can often turn into fights over toys, or sensitive Son feeling wronged for one reason or another. He always hopes there will be kids at the park, though.

Today, there are two kids who are not exactly at the park, but rather beside it. They are busily picking up stones from a dry stream-bed that runs between two little hills. They are lining up the stones in a circle-ish square (kid-style), on top of one hill, then running down to get more. Son makes a bee-line for them and starts helping with their project. It turns out the kids are brother and sister and they are building a castle.

This is something Son can get into. He starts running eagerly with them, up and down the little hill, lining up the stones precisely.

I watch him run, the highlights in his dark hair glinting red in the sun. Once in a while, his happiness bubbles up so strongly that he has to run in a big circle, shouting, then he goes back to the rocks. A prefect afternoon at the park.

Saskatoons

The sun glints briefly through the leaves as my fingers brush them. I reach up to the highest branch, then wrap my fingers around a plump, purple berry. Time slows and I can almost hear the breath of the plants around me. For this moment, there is nothing but berry, leaf, and the sky beyond. My chatterbox brain is silent and my worries fall away.

The Saskatoon berries are ripe. Son and I have been prowling the little patch of woods by our house, waiting for them. In the meantime, he’s been eating his way through the Huckelberries and Salmonberries. Today, the Saskatoons are finally ripe and we’re excited to try them.

I grew up on the edge of a city in the prairies. My parents were both raised on farms and knew a lot about plants. A family walk would always be punctuated with stops to  point out the Edelweiss or nibble on a rose-hip. In a place with a very short growing season, we would eat any edible berries growing wild with relish. Especially Saskatoons. My mom loved Saskatoon berries. She grew up in the same city and they were a childhood treat for her. We grew some in our garden and would also pick them in a ravine near our house. I remember walking to the ravine in the summer and coming home with full buckets of berries. We’d eat some berries and my mom would make a pie with the rest. So they’re a childhood treat for me too.

Saskatoons are less common where I live now. There’s only one little bush in these woods. Son and I won’t get buckets of them, just enough for a few of his snacks. But I’m glad that they will be part of son’s childhood too.

Saturday Morning

Daughter is cuddled next to me in our bed when Son comes in the room, first thing in the morning. The curtains are still drawn, the light muted. Son knows now to whisper whatever he says to us when he comes in, just in case Daughter still needs to sleep. Bless his heart.

Daughter is waking up anyway, so I invite him in, using my normal voice. He climbs onto the bed and stretches out beside Daughter. When I was still pregnant with Daughter, I was worried about bringing a sibling into Son’s life. He seemed so afraid of what would happen and dead-set against the idea of having a sibling. Now, he loves her. He doesn’t always love the attention she grabs away from him, but he loves her.

Daughter smiles at him when she hears his voice and coos to him. She reaches for him, grabbing his face, and he doesn’t even mind. He just giggles and tries to get her to do it again.

Husband comes in and curls up at the bottom of the bed. He jokes with Son and smiles at Daughter. We chat lazily. A perfect Saturday morning.

Friday Fun

We are at one of Son’s favourite places. It’s a little historical village, depicting life in the 1920’s in our city. The first time I took him here, I wasn’t sure he’d like it. I’d been once before with Husband and it struck me as interesting, but small, mostly old buildings, not much to interest a kid. But the first time we went, it was winter and rainy and there wasn’t much else to do. The village turned out to have an old streetcar Son could explore and an old shed with a working steam engine. He fell in love with those things and now this is one of his favourite places.

So, here we are, summer now, with Grandma. Daughter is in the stroller. It’s a cool day. Cloudy but not rainy, with the sun peeking through every once in a while to say hello. Son is running down the path from the tram engine to the shed with the steam engine. He’s free to run here. There aren’t any cars, and today, hardly any people for me to worry about. He knows this place. Here he doesn’t have to hold anyone’s hand, he decides where we’re going next. I can see from his bouncing feet and swinging arms he is happy.

Quiet Time

Quiet time. Twenty minutes where an increasingly stormy Son stays in his room and I rest; sometimes, if Daughter doesn’t need much.

Today, she needs to nurse, but that’s easy enough. I lie on the bed and pull her close to me. Side-lying nursing, the best kind there is. I prop my head on a pillow and let myself sink into the blue and gold of the bedspread. Daughter’s breath is quick, one hand wrapped around my index finger. Sunlight shines in the window, through the trees.

What’s your favourite moment of the day? What are you grateful for today?

Boom Shake It Up

Son’s preschool is having a Father’s Day concert next week. They’ve been practicing for it every day. There’s one song that Son loves. I can tell because he’s always singing it to himself. So much so that now I know it too, or parts of it.

So, it’s lunch time. Son is at the table and I am making myself a hummus melt. I’m joking around, singing Son’s song to myself, and dancing to it, “Boom shake it up, boom, boom, shake it up.”

Son jumps out of his chair. “No, it goes like this.” He stands and says, “Ready position!”. I look at him in surprise. He’s never shown me all the moves before, only hinted at them, shyly. In one second, he wraps his little arms around his body, rapper-style and bows his head, as though waiting for stage lights to come up. He stifles a giggle. Then, lifting his head,  “Hip, hop, Father’s Day rock, let me see your left foot drop”. He steps once, awkwardly with his left foot. Then, “Hip, hop, Father’s Day rock, let me see your right foot drop.” No movement of the feet. “Boom shake it up, boom, boom shake it up”. Some kind of strange dancing movement that I think is supposed to resemble a shimmy. “Tell your Dad you love him so”, he points.

He’s so serious and so sweet, trying to get the moves just right. Laughter bubbles up inside me, not at him, just at his smallness and his earnestness and at the silliness of the song.

He stops. I start singing it again and he does the whole thing over. I want him to do it again, but I know if I start pressing him, he won’t do it anymore. I guess I’ll just have to wait for next week.

Boom shake it up, boom, boom, shake it up!

Daughter

A cloudy day. The house is quiet. Son is at preschool, Husband is busy, and the house is mostly clean. Daughter is awake and I have just put her on our bed. For once, I have nothing to do but hang out with her.

I lie down beside her and say, “Hi cutie.” She looks at me and her face bursts into a sunshiney smile that lights up the whole room. I’m so in love. I talk and sing to her. She talks to me too and twenty minutes fly by. When it’s time to change her diaper, nurse her, get lunch ready for us all, I feel rested, even though I haven’t slept.

What are you grateful for today?

Some Introspection and Some Joy

I realized yesterday that in posting these tiny gratitudes, I can see that they are never about the show I watched on Netflix, or the book I’ve been reading. But I spend most of every day longing to just watch a show or escape in a book. It’s strange that what I think I like best isn’t actually what I like best. I’m trying now to pay better attention to the life I think I want to escape.

We are on the lane outside our house; a car-free zone where kids can play together. The sky is mostly grey again, with the sun bursting through occasionally. It isn’t cold though, the air is soft and spring-time warm.

Two moms and three girls are seated on a blanket, totally engrossed in sewing little pillows. Son wanted to sew too, at first, but he just couldn’t stay still long enough. Now he and another boy are on a nearby lawn. Each boy holds a pair of sewing scissors and is cutting the grass with glee. Oh the joy of being a kid in the springtime, cutting the lawn with scissors.