Our weekend was packed full of the sort of memories you’re supposed to keep – you know, the kind of events where you get dressed up and take your camera. But when a friend asked, “What do you want to remember about your day?” I thought about it and decided it really isn’t any of that. Instead, it’s Lucy on a swing.
And Phoebe in her jeep.
Also her accidental Jack Nicholson impression.
It’s jumping around in the freshly mowed side yard.
It’s the cluster of freckles beneath the bridge of her nose – the ones that inspired our Night Fairy stories.
It’s lying face to face in the grass, close enough to feel her breath on my cheek.
It’s what’s important.
It was about hour four of of our second day of swimming at the water park when Phoebe said, “Mother, I would like to go home now. Please.”
(For those of you who don’t speak “Phoebe,” I shall translate:
Yanking my bathing suit off my chest = “Mother,”
“Aaaaiiiiyeeeeeeooooooo!” = “I would like to go home now.”
Headbutting my face = “Please.”)
“Well of course, my darling,” I replied. (Not really.) And I began to assemble my clan. “Are we ready to go?”
“NO!!!” Julia and Lucy screamed in unison.
“I think it might be time,” my mom suggested as she watched Phoebe scale my torso and wrap herself around my head. I agreed.
We huddled together, cloaked in towels, to discuss our exit strategy when Dave noticed two lifeguards call a third over to the kiddie pool. They whispered and pointed here, then there. They got down on their knees at the edge of the water and stared hard into its depth.
“Okay,” I said, tucking Phoebe like a football under my arm and teetering toward the leg Lucy had wrapped herself around in protest. “Let’s get out of here.”
“Wait,” Dave shushed. “Something’s going on over there.”
“The kids are pooped-”
“I think someone else did, too.”
“Huh?” I turned with the rest of the family to follow his gaze.
The bravest of the life guards was stretching a latex glove over a trembling hand and sucking in a deep breath. The world seemed to slow down as it entered the water and emerged with a dark object between the thumb and index finger.
Lucy rose to her feet and whispered, “What is it?”
The life guard squinted and grimaced. “CLOSE THE POOL!”
“POOP!” Julia shouted gleefully. (Because you know Julia has been waiting her whole life for a legitimate reason to shout POOP in public.)
“That’s why you should never drink the pool water.”
“Alright, are we ready to leave now?”
This time, the vote was unanimous.
…to the Wolf Den…
..and the water park where it became painfully obvious that I need a new camera.
Out of focus fun!
That’s a little better.
Finally, a photo that’s crisp and in focus. And you cannot see her face!
Nevertheless, fun was had by all.
Check this out.
You just stepped into the desert.
Julia’s desert diorama!
Oh, arts and crafts. What a wonderful way to unlock your child’s creativity! They’re a gateway to discussion and a vehicle for exploration. These kind of projects require thought, vision, and problem solving skills to navigate the step by step process of transforming materials into a desired result. They provide an incredible learning opportunity for your child! And they teach parents like me about relinquishing control.
Sure, I provided some guidance during construction.
“Julia, why is there a horse in here?”
“I’m pretending it’s a camel.”
“Well, the whole thing is pretending to be the desert. The horse pretending to be a camel on top of that is a bit of a stretch, don’t you think?”
I told her she could keep it if she told her teacher the horse had no name, la la laa laaaaaa la la la la, la la la laaaaa la! She looked at me like I was old.
So, she lost the “camel.” Otherwise, I mostly gave advice that she ignored.
Me: “You could use construction paper to…”
Her: “No, I’m going to use paint.”
Me: “I have this craft wire that we could use to…”
Her: “That’s okay, I’m doing it like this.”
As she should. It’s HER assignment. I’m not even sure why it’s so hard to let her do it her way. But I did let her. I think that means I passed. So, it’s kinda like I got an A. Yes. Let’s just say that. I got an A!
Lucy will be starting preschool in the Fall. Can you believe it? It wasn’t so long ago that I was worrying about sending Julia off to preschool. And if what I did then was worry, there needs to be a stronger word for what I’ve been doing this time around.
Lucy + Preschool = My brain is full of worms!
The worms are kept happy and fed, however, with the knowledge that Lucy would be going to the same Montessori preschool Julia attended. We’d pretty much known that from the moment we enrolled Julia there. And while I’d had thousands of conversations about it with Dave, my mom, myself, anyone that would listen and even some who would not, I neglected to inform the school director in an official capacity, and so, for a time, we were on the wait list.
(Lucy + Preschool) / The Wait List = My head just exploded and all the worms died.
Thankfully, last week, we got the “YOU’RE IN!” call and my head was reassembled.
We made an appointment for Lucy to visit her new school on her birthday and we were both very, very excited. Until it was time to go in. Something about the words, “We’re here” sparked a revolt.
“Huh? Sweetie, we’re here. Let’s go in!”
“No. No. I don’t want to.”
“But, we’re-but, we’ve…but…what?”
“I’m not going in.”
I hopped out of the van and ran around to open her door. She quickly turned her face away and steeled herself into her seat.
“Lucy. What’s wrong? You were so excited a few minutes ago!”
She furrowed her brow and jerked at me with gunshot grunts, a maneuver that kills my kindness and makes me bleed anger. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I imagined a giant wave of water gushing through a channel, overwhelming the banks and devouring bridges, and my daughter caught up in it, fighting against it, but rendered helpless by it’s force. Because that’s how Lucy experiences strong emotions. They tear through her brain, washing out all the pathways to communication and reason. When I picture her swept away and drowning in them, it helps me keep from getting carried along with her. It reminds me that pushing only puts her under, and I need to be sure-footed so I may offer her a steady hand strong enough that she can latch onto it and pull herself out.
“Okay, let’s think about this…” I launched into a pep talk that, I thought, was pretty inspiring. And since she’d actually started to look at me, I thought we were good to go. So, I unbuckled her seat belt and lifted her out of the car. But she wouldn’t let me put her feet on the ground. We struggled for a moment and then I sat us down on the curb, putting her my lap. She fought free and darted to the van and hid her face against the door.
“Lucy? Lucy!” I looked around to see who might be watching. “They’re expecting us.” I was getting tense. “You’re telling me you don’t want to go in?”
She shook her head.
“Okay. Okay.” I didn’t want to start things off on the wrong foot. “It’s okay. Let’s just walk around. Come on,” I said picking her up. “Let’s just walk around.”
I carried her toward the school. I pointed out some flowers, a bird, the play yard. I put her feet on the ground and took her hand. We looked around a bit. “Hey, there’s the door. Should we go in?”
She ran. I shouted. She stopped. She grunted. Oh, the grunting.
“So, Lucy, what?” I was losing it. I was slipping. “You don’t want to go to school?” I stomped.
She started to wail.
I threw my hands up. “Alright,” I screamed. I scooped her up and walked her kicking and yelling back to the van and plopped her in her car seat. I slammed the door shut and stood a moment. Another deep breath. I walked around and got into the car. I put my hands on the steering wheel.
I sat there in the same place I find myself so often with Lucy, asking, What do I do? WhatdoIdowhatdoIdowhatdoIdo?
And the answer was the same: Wait.
Soon, the car grew quiet and she sniffed, “Mom?”
“I’m just-I’m just scared.”
Twenty minutes later, she was standing in the center of the classroom, inviting the kids to come see the amazing tower she’d built.
She blew her teacher kisses as we left and declared, “I love this place!”
The visit was a success for Lucy and yet another reminder for me to give that kid what she needs: time. If I don’t feel like I have it, I need to find it. Imagine what she could do with it.
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