Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ain't No Garden of Eden

I am aware that I have a charmed life. I sometimes look around me at the big wide world and hold my breath, afraid that my luck will run out one day. My life is not perfect but it is very, very good. I am very, very grateful for my good fortune.

Lately, though, some people close to me have not been so charmed. People that I care for have been living with very big problems. I don't know what to do. I want to knit them a hug. I want to swoop in on a magical broom and start sweeping the sadness away. I want to be queen of the world so that people I love don't hurt ever again. The only thing worse than being hurt is standing by while someone else is hurting.

Ain't no garden of Eden, folks. But I can't stop looking for it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Don't Save the Drama for your Mama

Claire has come down with a case of the dramas. It's quite serious and worsening by the hour. At this time, we are uncertain whether she has the more fleeting contagious variety or a congenital chronic condition. We are all quite concerned and more than a little nonplussed. Since we have more boy-parent experience and boys seem to have a higher resistance to drama infection, this is our first case in the household.

The first sign of infection was mild. I am more than a little ashamed to admit that I dismissed it as a childish game. Claire had an insect bite on her leg. She limped up to me and demanded a Dora bandage for the horrible, awful itch. I fetched the bandage and Claire danced away happily.

As the days passed, the drama has grown. Yesterday I realized that we have a very serious case. I arrived at daycare to find Claire sobbing. Her face was swollen and red, her caregiver was petting her head, and her classmates were cooing around her. She had a cold damp paper towel covering her knee. "It's a terrible rug burn, " Ms. J said. I peeked under the towel and saw nothing. Absolutely nothing. A tiny portion of flesh was every so slightly pink from being under a cold damp paper towel. Claire, lips quivering, explained that I would have to carry her to the car since she was badly wounded. I refused and spent the next twenty agonizing minutes watching her limp inch by inch toward the car, sobbing loudly every time another parent entered the hallway.

I had hoped that not feeding the drama would end the infection, but I was mistaken. This drama is made of tough stuff. Last night, Claire was wheedling to be tucked in for the third time. When I solidly refused, she wailed, "But I looooooooooooooove you!" Oh, blasted drama! How dare you do this to my child? We will beat this together, as a family. But I suspect that it will be a difficult fight.

Monday, September 8, 2008

I would walk 500 miles

This was a Very Big Weekend in our parish. We had our annual Homecoming, which consists of a parade and carnival as well as traditional churchy type fundraisers like cakewalks, quilt raffles, and bingo. It's like the loaves and the fishes. We start with what looks like a small parking lot, a gym, and a cafeteria, and lo, the space multiplies to contain many rides, booths, a beer truck, and an entire jungle's worth of houseplants.

It started on Friday night. Jake's class made a Seven Brides for Seven Brothers float for the parade. I put together a lumberjack costume for him. He grew over the summer and we're still wearing summer clothes, so the flannel shirt I dug out of the closet was decidely small. I rolled up the sleeves. I found one lonely purple bandanna in my box of wonders and held my breath while I tied it around my neck, fearing the "but that's a girl color" argument. It never came, thank goodness. Jake found a pair of jeanst that fit around his scrawny waist but ended above his ankles. No problem - I'm sure the younger brothers wore ill-fitting hand-me-downs, right?

Since Jake had been ready since 7pm on Friday evening, we had an easy time of it on Saturday morning. Jake and I headed to the parade drop-off on foot just as Grandma Joyce walked through the door. We walked all the way up to the school, then all the way back down to the park in search of the float. We traveled around 6 blocks to end up 2 blocks from home. I dropped him into a roiling cloud of excited lumberjacks. The girls, dressed as brides, were sitting primly along the edge of the float trying to avoid all contact with the rowdy lumberjacks. After chatting with the teacher for a few minutes, I kissed Jake and ran away before I could be recruited as a wheel walker.

I walked back to the appointed meeting spot along the parade route. No one was there, of course. So I walked the rest of the way home and badgered the family out of the house. We decided to walk a little further to a better spot on the route, then sat down and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, we saw the parade come by. Claire loved it, mostly because she gathered about four pounds of candy. We walked back toward the end of the route and caught most of the parade again. Then I chased the float back to the park.

I arrived just as the kids were disembarking, luckily. Most of the kids split immediately despite warnings to wait for their parents. I ended up herding a few strays as we headed toward the school. The next two hours were spent in a blur of rides, lunch, music, dancing, and walking around and around. When the kids started getting crabby, we walked back home.

Later in the afternoon, Jake and I walked back over to take our turn working a booth. We spent two hours walking the same 4 foot path. Take the money, wait, fetch a prize. Once again, we managed to pick up some strays. At one point, we had four boys "working" the booth which made it both more fun and more challenging. After our shift, I rewarded Jake with a ride so we walked around a little bit more. Then we walked back home.

By 6pm, I'm pretty sure that I walked close to ten miles. It was a lot of fun, but next year, I might wear roller skates.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Heaven Maybe

One day recently, I arrived at daycare to pick up Claire only to find her room empty. I heard some squealing on the other side of the building. I joined the irregular stream of parents wandering toward the noise with heads cocked. We found all of the children in one of the larger rooms, dancing and singing along with Babaloo.

I scanned the crowd looking for Claire. After an embarrassingly long time, I saw her. She surprised me by not only being among the big kids, but by actually being one of the big kids. Claire is sneaky like that. She grows up behind my back. She was waving so fast that her hand was a blur. Her entire face was a smile - her eyes were squinted into crescents, pushed out of the way by her cheeks which had in turn been displaced by her grin. I smiled and waved at her. I was overcome.

There are these moments in love, especially in parenting, that defy explanation. They are gifts from God, I think. I can throw words at the moment in a vain attempt to describe it - love, bursting, light, beauty. I wonder if this is how God sees us all the time? Maybe these glimpses are God's way of showing us the wonder and glory of His Creation. I hope so. I can't imagine anything more beautiful than one day being able to see everything with that clarity of light.