Today is the last day of school. The kids have been bringing home treasures all week, including these two pictures from Julianna’s school:
Christian has taken a couple of days off this year to participate in their program for dads–hanging out in the classrooms to model father participation in kids’ lives. I adore that picture of them.
Speaking of Julianna, she is trying to communicate everything by speech now, which makes life a bit exhausting and daunting, because it’s hard, hard, hard to understand her. There are improvements–I was over the moon last night to hear her say “Sthully Mah-ee!” (Silly Mommy!) Not Bah-ee! And a recognizable S! But here’s the point of this QT: are you ready? Take a wild guess which family member understands her speech the best. Not the parents. Nicholas. Three times this week, he’s understood something I didn’t. “Wye Shim!” she kept saying insistently, as I tore apart my brain trying to figure it out, and Nicholas, in next room, yelled, “No! I’m not watching Fireman Sam! I’m watching Bob the Builder!” (Which he later interpreted for me as “Boh-Bee-Boh.”)
I’m having another Wildlife Mama and Baby Moment this week. Early this spring, Christian discovered a birds’ nest in the gutter outside our bathroom window. This week we have had a new obsession: watching baby birds. I’ve never managed to get a picture of Mama Bird actually putting the food in the babies’ mouths, but it is fascinating. I don’t hear any squalling, but they look like they’re squalling! I’ve blown over a hundred pictures this week. Mostly I’ve gotten lots of picture’s of a bird’s butt:
(Why yes, she is sitting on her babies’ heads. I haven’t figured that one out. She sat there for fully five minutes on his head at one point. Maybe this is Robin Discipline, to keep Baby from dying by hurtling out of a nest that is three stories off the ground. It’s a mystery to me.)
But last night, at last, I got the money picture.
And since we’re talking about mamas and babies, it’s Mommy and Michael time. I was playing ball on the floor with him the other day when he threw the ball away from me instead of toward me, and then, thinking himself tremendously funny, crawled after it, around the corner out of my sight. I listened to his progress across the kitchen floor: ki-DUNK, ki-DUNK, ki-DUNK, ki-DUNK, and thought how long it had been since I had heard that sound. At the far end, he retrieved the ball, got to his feet, and ran back, bare feet on the Pergo: slap-slap-slap-slap.
Not two hours later I was putting him to bed and chewing on him, reveling in the giggles and wishing I could get it on video, when I realized why the videos never satisfy my desire to hear that sound again: because the sound is only a sliver of the enjoyment. The enjoyment of a baby is a full-body experience, engaging all the senses, not just sight and sound. In this case, the feel of skin against my lips, and the smell of cinnamon graham cracker embedded in his face. This revelation has made me experience all my children differently. I’m really thinking about the feel of them when we’re interacting these days. I’m dreading Michael getting bigger. I just love babies, and nobody else wants me chewing on their babies.
I talked to a genetic counselor about my family’s history of BHD this week. We didn’t quite get to the level of a blood test because of insurance questions that have to be worked out, but we spent over an hour talking through the family history. She had an 8 1/2×11 piece of paper with a family tree in the middle. We got done with my siblings–each of them with a line and extensions for how many kids and what sex–and then she said, “Tell me about your mother’s family.” I looked at her piece of paper and said, “There are ten siblings.” Her pen paused as she, too, surveyed the 5 1/2 inches’ space she had to make that happen, and I laughed. “Yeah, I want to see how you fit all that on there!”
Midway through the process, when we hit a bunch of questions I didn’t know the answer to, I said, “That’s okay, I know there are a bunch of documents on the family’s website.”
Again, this poor woman’s eyes got round. “Your family…has a website?” she said blankly, and I started laughing, because in all the years my family has been having mass political, ahem, debates, via email and coming up with more and better ways to keep an ever-expanding group of people in the know, it never occurred to me that it was weird for a family to devote a website to themselves.
And that got me thinking: later, as I was digging up .pdfs of people’s diagnosis letters, and contacting my cousin for information about her medical history…I realized how amazing, and how beautiful, it is that I’m part of a family that, despite their strongly-held and deeply contrary opinions, is willing to lay out their personal history for each other’s benefit. I feel very blessed, very privileged. Big families rock.
My FB status from last night:
Nicholas is the king of killer funny sayings lately. Today he heard the Alma Mater playing on the fake-o carillon at the Alumni Center, and he said with a sigh, “I used to play that song. When I was in college, I played it.”
And here’s what else is making me happy these days:
“Keep Bad Theology Out Of Oklahoma“. Hear, hear.