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?

Snails

The ground was damp from rain when Son, Daughter and I went for a walk, so Son found a snail. He walked with it for a while, then said, “Mama, can we take it home?”.

Snails were my first pets, and they’ve held a special place in my heart ever since. I said, “ok.”

Now we are home and Son has two snails in his hands. I put Daughter in her bouncy chair, then rush to find a jar for the snails. We put them in, add some leaves for food, then I find a lid. It needs holes, though. 

The snails start climbing out of the jar, so I put a small, metal strainer on the top, hoping it’ll hold them for now. Then I find a lid and start punching holes in it with a hammer and nail. Son watches the snails for a while, then watches me.

I put the finished lid on the jar. Success. Then I look inside the jar to see one snail, not two. I open the jar, move the leaves around. Definitely only one snail.

“Son, there’s only one snail in here, have you seen the other one?” I ask, carefully.

“No”, says Son, “where is it?”. His voice trembles.

Husband, who is not wild about this project, enters the room. “What’s going on?”, he says. “Let me know if you see a snail”, I say.

I look around for the snail. It can’t have gone far, but I also don’t see it anywhere. I look around the jar, on the floor of the kitchen, under the fridge. No snail.

I decide to scan the countertop. I’m thirsty. I reach for my water bottle, then stop. The snail is perched on the sport-cap, stretching out of its shell, reaching up to me.

“Here it is!”, I say. We all laugh, and I gently return the snail to its jar, where I hope it will stay until we release them both back into the wild on Monday.

Rest

Daughter is finally, finally tucked in her crib, her little arms spread wide, in abandon. My bed draws me to it, and I go, like a paper-clip to a magnet.

I’ll just sit here for a few minutes, I tell myself. Just to make sure Daughter is really sleeping. It’s for her sake that I sit on the bed. And it’s for her sake that I also put my head on the pillow, so I don’t make too much noise.

The bed holds me with the strength and softness of a parent carrying a sleepy child. I close my eyes, just for a second, just to pass the time, I tell myself. 

I drift happily on down clouds while the world seems to spin around me, then fall away.

Planetarium

Son is into Space. Ever since he got a Magic School Bus book on it. The book captured his imagination and now he wants to go to space, and see the stars. We tell him that going to space isn’t a possibility for him yet. Sadly, neither is seeing the stars since he goes to bed before the sun these days. Also, we live in a bright city that is cloudy more often than not. We decided that the planetarium would be the closest he could get to either dream for now.

Here we are at the planetarium. Son is so excited. He can’t wait to see all there is. He bolts ahead of me, Daughter, and Grandma who is with us. I catch up to him and explain that he has to stay with us. Eventually he nods. Grandma finds us and he starts running. I call him back in one of my sterner parent voices. He slows his body, but is unable to contain his dancing feet, he’s so excited. So he kind of just runs on the spot until we get closer. I can see the enthusiasm jumping around in his body and I can see him trying so hard to slow himself down. Luckily, the planetarium is small, and there aren’t many people, so once we round a corner, he’s free to go as fast as he likes, pushing every button in sight.

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.

Moon

The air is as thick and warm as an old quilt. One of our first real summer days, though, so I’m not complaining. Windows are open and fans whir.

Daughter is asleep on my lap and I’m on our bed, waiting to transfer her into the crib for the night.

I look out the open window and am surprised by the moon. The big window is usually closed at night, and I’ve never looked out of it at this time of day.

The moon is bright yellow, a perfect half-circle hanging in a sky that is more dark, dark, blue than black. I can see the faint shadows etched on its surface. Are they seas? Or craters? I’ll have to look it up.

The noise of the day is absolved in this silence. On a day filled with the logistics of combing hair, changing diapers and the always mad rush to dinner, the moon reminds me of wonder and dreams.