Category Archives: Things kids say
Often after dinner, one of the girls will want to know what I am doing. Are you busy now? Do you have jobs to do? they ask.
What do you need? I’ll say cleaning up the counters. Do you have something you want to do together?
A lot of times, the answer is the same. I don’t need anything, I just want to be with you.
My children have this in common. Boy one hovers, chattering incessantly. When doing homework he wants to be two feet from wherever everyone else is. He thinks of questions to ask at night, just to have an excuse to hang around where we are. Boy two likes to read nearby in case I start reading something out loud to the girls. He swears he can listen to me read one book and read his own book at the same time. I have my doubts, but I don’t think it’s the stories that he cares about. The girls are young enough to be straightforward about it. They don’t care about the doing, they want us to be together.
I keep coming back to this idea. I just want to be with you. Girl two’s voice will echo in my head for a little while and then I start to hear the way Girl one says it.
My knickers are in horrible knots right now from trying to get everything right. Coming up to Easter, the stones in my head are rolling around trying to sort it all out. I wonder if the whole thing: baby in the manger through to dying man on a cross, is the long version of, I just want to be with you.
I think about it and my mind starts drifting. I see a picture of myself in a department store (shopping for me = traumatic exercise). I have been trying on clothes, only to discover that I’ve wet myself somehow. This cannot be happening, I am many things, but I am not yet incontinent. At least I wasn’t. There is no explanation really, just a puddle on the floor around my soggy shoes. I look around desperate for what I am to do, how I am to clean it up, and then what. I am wondering if people will smell it before I can fix it. And then there He is, long hair, white robe Bible clothes and all. Standing in the middle of Sears, in the middle of Holy Week, in the middle of the pictures in my head, smiling at me.
I don’t know what to do.
It’s not Easter yet, I say.
He doesn’t speak, but I know what he’s saying.
I just want to be with you.
There is nothing to do. Nothing to worry about doing.
Me too, I whisper.
Scooter with Anabelle
Scooter with Anabelle. Laughter with sorrow. Sometimes odd things go together.
We got Scooter the week we moved to County Road 21 four years ago. Everybody got along with Scooter. Before Anabelle came and befriended him, Scooter slept with the pigs. I discovered this one morning out checking on the pigs after a particularly cold night. I shoved at their combined black masses (or minus the M, as you wish) and they grunted to their feet. Younger ones first, and then at last our amazing sow, Oregano. Tucked up in the corner, having recently been kept warm by a few hundred pounds of pig was Scooter.
Scooter napped in cribs of hay, burying himself a foot or so down into the warmness, but his favourite spot, summer or winter, was outside in the fields, sunning himself on Anabelle’s back. Scooter died this weekend. Boy one found him curled up in the sheep’s hay. It was a sad surprise for everyone. We worried about Boy two, Scooter’s most ardent admirer. He was teary, but ok.
The husband and I wondered quietly what to do with a dead cat while winter is very much still with us. Cremation was the only viable choice but I worried whether or not the kids could handle the idea. My first attempt at discussion led to an unexpected sidetrack.
So, I said, Dad and I have been talking about what to do with Scooter.
Oh, we already have it figured out, said Boy one.
Yeah, said Boy two.
Either we can bury Scooter in the pasture outside Anabelle’s stall, said Boy one.
Or, we have another idea, said Boy two, eye’s still glistening.
We can’t really bury Scooter outside Anabelle’s stall, I said. (Or anywhere, I didn’t add) The ground is too frozen. Even digging three inches would take a long time.
That’s ok, said Boy one.
Yeah, said Boy two. We like the other idea better.
So what’s your other plan?
We want to bury Scooter above Anabelle’s stall.
I think I’m missing something. How would we “bury” Scooter in the air over Anabelle’s stall?
Ok, we wouldn’t “bury” her. I don’t know what word you use, said Boy one.
We’re going to make him a casket, said Boy two surprised that I am not getting it.
So you want to put Scooter in a casket and hang the casket from the ceiling of the barn over top of Anabelle’s stall?
Exactly, says Boy one, relieved that I finally get it.
Isn’t it just perfect? says Boy two.
Epilogue: I suggested gently, that although the idea was lovely, the idea of a decaying feline dangling above her and her new calf, might not be well received by Anabelle. Boys had their doubts that I knew what I was talking about, but decided plan B was ok because we could put ashes near Anabelle’s stall.
Scooter. Barn cat. Friend of all creatures. R.I.P. We shall continue to chase the mad black cat off the property in your honor.
The cottage where we stayed last week has the most delightful chess board I have ever seen set out on a table in the living room. It was impossible not to play chess. Boys one and two are learning. Girl one has the barest basics. Without even playing, the kids would stand by the board intrigued with the figures.
Come play chess with me, Girl two said to me on the second day.
You don’t know how to play, I said.
Yes, I do, she said. I learned yesterday.
She turned, expecting me to follow.
You might have to go easy on me, she tossed over her shoulder.
Would you mind, said Boy one. (It may be established by now that Boy one doesn’t say things unless he means them seriously, but just in case it is not, picture the way you might ask someone to consider giving you a kidney and you have about the right level of earnest.) Would you mind, if I shovelled the yard?
I blinked for a few minutes trying to figure out what I was missing. I could not come up with anything.
Where, I said.
On the other side of the driveway. I know it sounds strange, but I want to break in my cleats and I don’t want them getting all wet. I thought I’d shovel down to the grass and make myself a field big enough to take shots on a net.
Of course, he was still serious. If the goal was grass, he failed. If the goal was fun, he and his brother made wild success out of a few hours with a soccer ball, ten minutes of which involved a shovel.
I make it my business to read anything left lying around. Things left around the house are considered voluntary donations to my curiosity. The latest secret journal in tatters opened to the following page. Journal: date unknown. Content: unexplained. Original spelling: preserved.
To My Dear Huspin.
I culd nevr love u anuf
Bent over the dryer, I hear footsteps and a chair is shoved across the floor. I emerge to see Girl two climbing up onto my laundry table.
What are you doing? I ask.
I want to own that rainbow, she says eyes intent on the wall.
Over top of the laundry baskets, on tip toe she reaches a finger to a little square of colours reflected on the wall.
There, she says, and begins her descent. Now I own it.
I own a lot of those, I hear her say to herself as she disappears down the hall.
There seems to be a revolving door of normal around here. Boy two has stopped being Phil and has taken up counting telephone poles. It takes about fifteen minutes to get to school each day and he counts the whole way there and the whole way back. He was so pleased with himself that he had to get his sisters on board. Now the counting is out loud.
This is problematic, not because of the noise, but because counting out loud makes it obvious that they aren’t doing it right. It is impossible to cultivate inner peace when people that claim to be counting EVERY telephone pole, miss poles at random intervals and refuse to stick to any kind of system. Unlike some people, at least I can at least remain civil in the face of numerical defilement. The day Boy one had no school and came along to hear his sister’s play, he became so distressed at the counting mistakes I thought we might have to sedate him. Threats to leave him in the car were the only thing that managed to calm his nerves enough to stop talking about it. I’m not convinced it won’t resurface.
With the kids on school break, I forgot about counting until we were coming home from our time away at the lake. “Nobody’s even helping me anymore,” yelled an exasperated and exhausted Girl two into a previously pleasant silence. “I’m counting all by myself and it’s too hard.”
“You don’t have to count,” I ventured hopefully.
“But we’re trying to set a record. This is a long drive, so we can go higher than ever before,” said Girl one.
So it’s official, we currently have an issue with telephone poles . . . which may require medication to get all the parties involved through to the next normal.
It’s March break here, so the kids are out of school. We are together at a lovely cottage on a lake (compliments of Nana’s thoughtful brother and his wife). After much cajoling the other afternoon, I agreed to join in a hide and seek game. The rules (according to them) were that no one could use their best spot until last, and I had to be it last. My husband was an easy mark to get in the game (although he showed a remarkable propensity for being found quickly so as to get back to his puzzle in between times). Boy two approached Nana (65 and lover of cross country skiing and all things outside), who was already making noises about “no thank you.”
“It’s ok if you don’t play,” he said, “crunching up small for Hide and Seek wouldn’t exactly be good on old joints.”
Girl one took the prize for best spot (with much proclaiming from Boy two that it had been his idea.) It really was a pretty impressive idea. I only found her because her siblings insisted on hanging around “to watch,” thereby telling me I was finally in the right area. After that, it was only because I heard her breathing. The shelves are about shoulder height off the ground in a tidy closet. There’s a better picture below in case you didn’t see her before. Her head is sideways. You can see one eye, her hair, and just barely an ear at the top. We hauled down Nana, old joints and all, to check out her hiding spot.
Is it lice season? Her voice is anxious, her eyes nervous.
I don’t know. Do lice have seasons?
I just found a piece of something white in my hair. It was this big. She shoved a piece of lined notebook paper at me. A dot the size of an aspirin had been scribbled down in bright red pen. I didn’t know what it was so I threw it in the fire and burned it, but I made a picture so you could see.
I began checking the base of her neck and behind her ears.
It was in my bangs. I found it in my bangs, she said desperate.
No lice, I said soon enough. Her breathing and heart rate began their return to normal.
Girl two at bed time:
Are there nuns in our country?
In our country?
Good. I want to be a nun.
She smiled dreamy then frowned.
But there is a problem, she said in a lowered voice. She furrowed her eye brows.
What is the problem?
I’m going to be a figure skater. Her mouth drooped heavily.
Why don’t you be a figure skating nun, I say delighted with the picture in my mind of skater in full habit with wimple gliding past a tights and tutu girl to start her long program . Girl two’s eyes brightened with joy.
That’s perfect, she said, a broad smile filling her face. She crossed her arms content. That’s exactly what I’ll do.
Saturday was a deep thought day. I wasn’t feeling great. No suffering worth empathy, but my body was tired and fighting something. Of more significance, my insides were pensive, broody, and on the slow churn sorting out my trials. I was in the girls room because: a) it has a couch, b) it was quiet, and c) unlike my room, it is warm without blankets and a winter hat.
I stayed for a while. When I stood up to go, I noticed a small sign on the floor. In pink chalk, I read the words, “fly home.”
It felt like an answer. Fly home. Maybe it’s that simple, I said.
Fly where? said my other self.
Home. Simple. No matter the darkness, sometimes we just need to fly home. I could feel my spirit’s lifting. The magic, the miracles. Here, right when I needed it, a tiny message written for me. Fly home. Even written from hand of one of my lovely children.
Which is when my other side said – Why would they write that?
I took another look.
It wasn’t a sign. It was a little black box. Click. Processing information. Click.
So yeah. “Fly,” was an adjective explaining what kind of home the box was, not a verb followed by a destination.
I pondered it all for a minute. My disgusting children who cannot be convinced that flies are disease transport vehicles with bulging eyes. The helpful results of my misread. I thought about destroying yet another bug captivity contraption, but really what’s the use? I went and got the camera.
What the heck. It was good advice all around. Flying. Home. Kids to keep your feet on the ground. There’s gold in them there hills.
image courtesy of rochjose from morguefile.com
Boy one and girl one are really bonded to Misty, I say to my husband thinking no one is listening. Everybody does their part, but for boy two and girl two, it’s not the same.
What does bonding mean? asks girl two (who is on a self imposed vocabulary investigation of staggering proportions these days).
Well, I say trying to think, if you’re bonded to something it means it’s something that’s really important to you. Everybody likes Misty, but to boy one, Misty is one of the things in a circle of things most important to him in the world. You like Misty, but not in the same way.
Ok, says Girl two. She sits thinking with eyes fixed while the rest of eat, then turns to her sister, serious.
I think I’m bonded to macaroni and cheese, she says.
I am driving. Girl two occasionally claps, or adds, “go, go, go,” but for the purposes of the story she is mostly a bystander. Boy two is in the far back of the caravan, girl one is in the seat ahead of him.
Boy two: Ok, do you see the little stick guys on the side?
Girl one: Yeah
Boy two: Ok, I want you to click on them. Now see the thing that says music and click on it. Now set it for Star Wars theme.
Girl one: You’re going too fast. Just a minute. Ahhh! This stupid thing. Ok, ok, now I’ve got it.
Boy two: Alright. So go back out to where the stick guys were. Go over right to the side. See the one guy there?
Girl one: Click on him?
Boy two: Yeah, Click on him. Now, go to settings and look for the Phil file. I think it’s called something like Phil file 3552. For some reason they didn’t do any numbers one to ten or something, I don’t know. It’s crazy. Are you there yet?
Girl one: They’re going crazy. They’re everywhere. Oh my gosh, everyone’s running around like crazy people.
Boy two: Chase that guy on the right. Once you get him, you’ll see what happens. Right there. Now! See it. Now quick, grab that stick on the ground.
Time elapses. I drive.
Girl one: That was awesome.
Boy two: Yeah, let’s put it away now.
Girl one: Yeah, first I just have to save it. What should I call it?
Boy two: Call it, “Phil 542. . .”
Girl one: Just a minute, it’s not working. This things takes forever to save. There it goes. . .
Girl two: When is it going to be my turn?
Girl one: Next time. We’re putting it away now.
1. For the entire conversation, girl one was holding a rectangular 2×3 inch mirror in her hand.
Seriously, where are the scientists when the really good stuff is happening?
Me thinking about accepting the pipe
I have a little issue. It has gone undiscussed here on County Road 21, on account of it failing to meet the last little part of the true, simple, BEAUTIFUL criteria. The issue is waking up.
I used to work with someone who routinely got up at 4:30 am. One of her babies had started her on it. He was an adult now, but she had kept the schedule. I felt sorry for her. Wondered why she wasn’t trying to fix it. Rising at that time without soldiers, or an extremely exciting trip to embark on seemed unimaginable.
Unfortunately, I no longer require imagination to see early.
Chris, I say to myself at 4 or 4:30 as I fill up the wood stove, are you still out there? I don’t remember the routine. Are you drinking coffee and reading the paper? I didn’t have a Fraser, but I’m up now. Top of the morning to you. If you’ve stopped getting up early, don’t tell me. It makes me feel better to think there’s somebody else out there.
I tossed and turned for a few nights at 2:00 a.m. with no results other than sleep loss combined with boredom. The next night, I took off the gloves and fought back. Cleaning the bathroom in the middle of the night was surprisingly rewarding. I went back to bed pleased that at least I hadn’t been bored.
2:00 went away. 4:30 though, seems here to stay. What did I do wrong? I wonder. Occasionally, I roll over and see that it is almost 5:30. I smile madly. I slept in! Successful mornings are followed by a careful examination of conscience. What did I do right? What do I do to deserve that again? It will be ok, I tell myself, the day I figure out exactly the way the points are tallied.
A few weeks ago, I helped with a birthday party. Little girls dropped bowling balls on the floor with tiny nudges. Half the time they walked away before their ball even reached the pins. There were no real attempts to aim, the balls were heavy enough. Rolling, or dropping equalled success. It was new and it was fun.
No one understood the score or where it came from, but it appeared on a screen above us. After a while the girls began to watch the computer. In fact, they watched it more than the pins or the ball. From there, they derived the meaning of it all.
“I’m good at this,” said a girl delighted.
“I’m bad at this,” said another resigned. “Me too,” echoed a third.
You’re not good or bad, the numbers are almost random at this point, I wanted to say. The things you are adding up, they don’t equal the thing you think they do.
It was bowling, but it was a glimpse of the obvious. Children should live freely, without thinking it’s all a tally about whether they are good or bad.