Tag Archiv: girl two

Tube vision

picture compliments of morguefile.com who saved me from having to take a picture of myself holding a roll of toilet paper to my eye.

picture compliments of morguefile.com 

Girl two approached my kitchen sink with a question.

Is tube vision a real disease?

I asked to have the question repeated.

Girl one and are arguing and I want to know if tube vision is a real disease.

Light dawned on marble head. Do you mean tunnel vision? I asked.

Yeah. Tunnel vision. Anyway, is it a real disease?

I explained that the way she’d heard it was an expression. A minute or so later she was back with an empty toilet paper roll held over her eye.

See, Mom? Tube vision. I have tube vision. She left laughing, the tube still over her eye.

I sat down and wrote her a letter for another day.

 

Dear Girl two,

I don’t want to scare you but the truth is, tube vision  is a real disease. Just like a cold, everybody gets tube vision once in a while. Just like cancer, tube vision can take over your whole life.

The dangerous version of tube vision is pretty much an adult disease. People wait a long time to become grown-ups. They are very happy when their teacher and their parents stop telling them what to do. But then they find out that instead of three people telling them what to do, there are almost a hundred (people who make you pay taxes, your boss, your boss’s boss, your boss’s boss’s boss, people who make you buy snow tires, house insurance, car insurance, people who make you redo the tile around your woodstove … the list is very long). That is annoying, but not as annoying as the fact that the things everyone tells you to do when you are a grown-up are easy things. All the hard things, no one tells you anything. You have to figure them out by yourself. This is the basic job of being a grown up: get up, do what people tell you, guess the answers to really hard questions and go to bed wondering if you should have guessed differently. As you can imagine, the stress of all this can cause tube vision.

Kids, woods, frogs, or a river to watch and listen to, these things (or things like them) can prevent tube vision. They are also effective treatments. Healthy people require quiet places. In order to stay healthy, people also need to be interrupted with the laughter of the unexpected. People with tube vision can recover if they see a bird try to catch a bug through a screen and stop to watch it cock it’s head confused that the fly is right there but somehow not going into its beak.

People have tube vision because looking through a tube makes the world smaller and less scary. Problems feel smaller when you look through a tube. That is the reason that everyone, including you and I, will get tube vision. Sometimes we might not even want to get cured of it.

The reason to get rid of it is that the world is scary but it is also full of laughter and surprises. Tube vision can’t make scary things go away, it can only make them feel like they’re not there. But by making everything so small, tube vision takes away our windows to surprises and laughter.

Kids are good medicine because they are experts at putting the windows back. That’s how they help grown-ups not get sick from tube vision. You have always been good at that. And you guessed it: tube vision is a lot like looking through a toilet paper roll.

Love,

Mom

 

Friday small post

another self portrait. not sure how morguefile.com gets these pictures of me.

Not sure how morguefile.com gets these pictures of me.

I do not have a piece written today because:

  1. I was gravely misunderstood twice in one day. I could have recovered from once.
  2. A friend from out of town was coming and I could not remember the name of anything I know how to cook.
  3. My three youngest children went outside, stole water without asking, dug up dirt without asking, and made a lot of mud. They poured it all over the slide and went down it repeatedly. Two of them covered themselves from head to toe, skin, shorts, t-shirts. The third, in school clothes, kept telling me that she didn’t even get to do the “funnest” things the other kids did because she was trying so hard to take care of her school clothes. That was supposed to make me feel sorry for her instead of being mad at her. I had no answer for that with language appropriate for a nine year old so I couldn’t say much.
  4. The people misunderstanding me are fragile so I can’t even wade in and offer up my most excellent defenses. Which is too bad because I am really ready with some excellent points, and not being able to say them is making it hard to think.

 

A small offering from the week’s conversations . . .  

Girl one felt compelled to read the ten commandments to Girl two.

What’s adultery? said Girl two.

It’s like when you’re married to one person and then you get married to another person.

Both Girl two and I found this interesting.

Or, continued Girl one, probably if you’re engaged to someone and you marry someone else.

Girl two’s eyes got wide. She began to whisper furiously.

That means I’m going to have to commit adultery, she said.

What do you mean? said Girl one.

I’m already engaged to John.

No you’re not, said Girl one.

Yes, I am. I don’t want to be, but I am. At winter fun day he asked me to marry him.

Did you say yes?

I said no. He said pretty please. I said no. He said he’d do anything for me. I said no. But I’m going to commit adultery because I’m not marrying him. I’m marrying someone else.

Brilliance in the becoming

 

saw this happening out the window and got the camera

saw this happening out the window and got the camera

 

Turns out this was the goal. :)

This was the goal.

 

Boy two has a bruise on his head. During our work day he began taking the split logs in his hand as they came off the splitter and tossing them behind him onto the wagon without looking. He stopped after one log flew straight up and came straight back down on his head.

——

Girl one is reading a novel to Girl two as we drive back and forth to school. It’s a mystery with illustrations of art in parks. I tuned in to catch this.

Girl one: It’s crazy, but sometimes in really old art there are sculptures of naked people.

Girl two groans loudly in protest.

Girl one:  I know. It sounds weird, but it’s the way they were learning about the human body. They didn’t know very much so they made sculptures of it so they could learn about it.

Girl two resigned herself to the senselessness of our ancestors with an exhausted, okay.

——

Boy one recently completed a submission for an essay contest. The potential prize money is big. Aided by the whole optimism disorder, he decided to give it a try. I was quiet about the possibilities of winning. For a few months my secret service, reverse psychology skills have been frequently required. Due to stealth constraints about my actual interest in him completing the project, the number of times I could say, “how do you not see your current state of not finished as an emergency!” was limited. The essay was due at 11:59 on a Friday night. Around 11:50, his father asked him where he was supposed to submit the project. He wasn’t sure. Turns out there was a form to fill out. The fact that the project was submitted at precisely 11:59 is something he’s immensely proud of. He sees it as a kind of good luck charm.

——-

Boy two announced that he is kicking Boy one out of the solemn brotherhood. He says he can no longer tolerate someone so obsessed with hygiene. Boy two does not have this problem. Following a thoroughness inquiry from this interested mother after a recent shower, he explained that he had indeed washed everything from the top of his head down to about six inches below his knee.

But why would you stop there? I asked. That means you didn’t even wash your feet.

Who would ever wash their feet, he wanted to know. All the soap from your whole body goes there.

——

There was a knock on my bedroom door recently. Most knockers wait for my invitation then nudge a few inches through the open door to ask their question. This time the knocker closed the door behind them, strode across the room to the other side, and turned to look at me.

I’m almost in tears about everything. Do you know what’s wrong with me?

Inconvenience, Dates, and Love

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Taking a page from my mother’s book, I take the kids on dates. Not that often, but sometimes, just me with one of them. Girl two and I had a date last week. We dropped the other kids off at school, went home, moved a table in front of the wood stove, and played games. We had popcorn and tea. Then we got in the car and drove to a skating rink. We arrived towards the end of the adult skate time. Girl two was too pulsing with excitement to wait. We did our best to stay out of the way. She is very enthusiastic about skating. Girl two skates much like I would imagine a person with limited limb control and a deep desire to sprint would skate after say a six pack of beer. Very happy. Very fast. Not so steady on her feet. Somehow oblivious to pain and the possible connection between frequent crashes and speed.

The rink we went to is used for Junior A hockey. Compared to our pond, it’s massive. To our utter amazement, for about fifteen minutes after the adult skaters left, we had the whole place to ourselves. We skated clockwise, counter clockwise, across the centre sideways and every other way we could imagine. We talked about having a dance competition but luckily that fell through. Eventually a few others came. Not being used to an actual rink, I thought Girl two might tire but she insisted on skating for the full hour.

“That was perfect,” she said as we skated off the ice. “That was exactly what I wanted. Just to skate with nobody telling me what to do. Not like at the pond where everybody is always bossing me around.”

We went for lunch and played magic fairy. (The magic fairy makes anything possible.)

“If the magic fairy let you try three things to be when you grow up, what would they be?” I asked.

“Missionary . . .  doctor . . . or . . . or own a restaurant,” she said. “Because I want to do something that people actually need and everybody needs to eat. Probably not doctor though. Just the other two. And if I had a restaurant, poor people could always eat there for only one dollar. No matter what.”

It is very frustrating to find times to fit in the dates. I promise them ahead because I worry otherwise I wouldn’t do them. Even so I drag my feet and think of giving rain cheques. Afterwards I can’t imagine how I ever thought of missing it.

Girl one is anxious for our upcoming date. “I like to be with you because I can say anything and I know you won’t make fun of me,” she said. “I like talking to you because I trust you with my words.”

How is it that we find love so inconvenient, and yet it always seeks and waits for us?

Failed Attempts with Petunia

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Over the holidays, the girls and I found ourselves with the richness of empty time together in someone else’s house. Games? I wondered. Barbies! they cheered. The Barbies looked as boring as the ones at our house but perhaps I was misinformed.

I declined the invitation to join. (I don’t know how, I said. I’ll read a magazine.) Then I felt guilty and recanted. My cynical side was not amused. My creative side felt certain I could muster enough imagination to overcome my God given repulsion to so many long haired plastic women with deformed feet and monstrous bosoms.

Upon sitting down with assigned Barbie in hand, I spied a plate of plastic cupcakes. Both girls were grooming their Barbies. I looked at mine but she looked fine so I walked her over to get a cupcake. She wanted the green one, which turned out to be a problem because the  Barbie sitting at the table said she wanted the green one also. This was ridiculous. Table girl had been sitting there all night. If she’d actually wanted the green one she could have consumed it hours ago, but no, she waited until my Barbie politely asked for it to cause a scene. Things got heated. My Barbie had just stormed off when the girls interrupted to tell me I wasn’t doing it right.

I ignored them and walked my Barbie back over to the table. She and the other girl agreed to split the cupcake. I got them to hug, high five, and squeal, “sisters!” Nobody tells me I can’t do that Barbie thing.

So how are you supposed to play Barbies, I said.

You like do their hair and put on clothes and stuff, they said.

As far as I can tell the perfect Barbie would have clothes that disintegrate after 30 seconds exposure to air, thereby assuring that Barbie would be in need of almost constant dressing and accessorizing. In other words, a picture of hell. My Barbie was already dressed. They weren’t our Barbies so I didn’t feel right cutting her hair, irritating though it was. I sighed and my eyes landed on one of the ugliest pair of shoes I have ever seen.

Petunia (my Barbie) was thrilled. O my gosh, she said, I am soooo happy. These are like the best shoes, ever. Just look at all the little bumps. I have no idea how many toads they used to make them, but 100% toad skin shoes are like totally awesome, she added.

Mom, said Girl one, those are shoes for a completely different doll. They don’t even go with that Barbie. But you can use them if you want.

I took the shoes off and put them back on three times, thereby proving that they did go with my Barbie.

It’s ok, Mom, said Girl one.

Yeah, said Girl two, they weren’t made for her, but you can use them.

But don’t say stuff about toad skin, said Girl one.

Yeah, said Girl two, that’s just silly.

 

Rich

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The children have taken to telling everyone that we had three vacations this summer.  There never seems to be a way to explain my side of it. The first, “vacation,” was a weekend invitation to a friend’s cottage. We left earlier than planned in order to get to the hospital and brush up on appendicitis facts, but prior to that it was quite wonderful. The second, “vacation,” was a once in a lifetime week by a lake with family, an hour from home. Cousins, the chief excitement of my children’s world, were present. But my husband was still working. There were 14 people to feed. Our calf was sick part of the time. Trips had to be made home, vets called, and well . . . I loved seeing my family, I just couldn’t say it was restful.  Which brings us to, “number three.”  This was the real kind . . . with my husband, six hours AWAY from the farm and all its potential needs.

For the record, we did not have three vacations! If we had, I imagine I would be rested. Instead, I watch the clock longingly until school comes tomorrow to take the rest robbers away. People with three vacations are rich. We are not rich.

Except we are and I know better. Forget clothes and food, we go to school, drive cars, spend money on things that might not pan out, quit things because we don’t like them. My husband pays for a cook (me), maid (also me), chauffeur (me), and tutor (still me) for the children. Since I don’t worry about getting fired, I also spend quite a bit of time writing. Lots of people we know have more than we do, but it is a matter of degrees. From a global perspective, we live solidly on the rungs of the rich ladder.

Light broke through this weekend though. Girl two is about to be a first grader. That got me thinking about me in grade one. Six years old for me was a bad year. A lot of things went terribly wrong. Girl two, bouncing up and down happy, turns six today. The comparison has me profoundly to my bones, grateful. The brokenness I came from is not her inheritance. She doesn’t know a thing about it.

I am thinking about that. About being rich. So rich I can’t keep track of everything. I wake up to discover stocks grown wildly that I hadn’t checked in ages. Investments I’d forgotten I even had.

My husband is hoping to take the kids camping for a weekend soon. I’m thinking maybe they can stop telling people how many vacations we have and just say we’re so rich we basically live on vacation.

But seriously. Some days I can’t believe it. My kids are really happy people. For real. How rich is that?

 

Bold new world

Girl Knitting, by Alfred Anker

Girl Knitting, by Alfred Anker

Girl one is possessive about her hair. All trips to the hairdresser for a trim of any kind involve very vocal resistance and occasionally foot stomping. Which is why it took me by surprise when Girl one’s chief adorer, asked for a hair cut a few weeks ago.

I want my hair short, said Girl two.

Ok, but why? I asked.

I want to be like you, she said.

I did not think this was possible and so I stalled. A few days. A week. Reminders that one cannot have a pony tail and be like sister if one does not have long hair.

I don’t care. I want it short.

Three weeks later she was still asking . . . I thought you said I was going to get my hair cut. When are we going?

And so we went. And she looks adorable and perfect and more like herself than ever.

Do you like it? I asked.

I love it, she said. I look like my sister looked in the pictures of when she was little.

State of the nation summer edition

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We started summer on Saturday with a coughing, hoarse Girl one and a UTI for Girl two. After we saw the Dr. I asked Girl two to call her father and tell him she had a urinary tract infection but had medicine and would be ok.

Daddy, she said proudly, I have a urinal confection but I have medicine now so it will be ok.

The picture of bakery counters filled with urinal confections has hit my funny bone. When Girl two reaches 13, she’ll be hard pressed to find an acquaintance who doesn’t know about it.

I wanted to start the summer with a bit of gusto and I didn’t want to wait until Boy one was finished exams so I organized a cleaning party for Monday. When I called my friend to ask if I could hire her 8 and 10 year old to come work with us, she thought I was crazy. I might be, but that was not the point. The bolstered troops announcement was met with much enthusiasm here. By the end of the morning, my downstairs was strewn, but our porch was clean and ready for summer use, the driveway was full, but the garage was swept and tidied. The kids were happy, and content to play for the afternoon. By dinner, it was all put away. If I am crazy, I stand by my insanity.

Yesterday I discovered that Boy two took to cough drops sometime in the winter. I found wrappers strewn throughout his treasure drawer. With no shame he admitted that he eats them for candy.

In the afternoon, we went to the library. Our library is a restored one room school house, an old stone building in the middle of the country. Our first summer library outing was another cause for rejoicing.

Boy two and Girl one hit the car after with books in hand and disappeared into couches and chairs as soon as we got home. Girl two begged miserably for a playmate to no avail. She leapt with excitement when Girl one finished her book after an hour or so, only to be ignored as Girl one walked past her to the library shelf to get a new book. Applesauce came to our rescue. Girl two made it for dessert, spun the spinner herself and chose her own spices.

Yesterday, I had to stop the car on the way home from Boy one’s exams so he could baptize the weeds with his lunch. I wish I could say our exam taker is toiling endlessly. He is toiling mildly. No sweat, but one hopes the heart rate of the brain is elevated ever so slightly. He has two exams left to go and then he will join our book loving group of manual laborers. The thought no doubt delights him.

And that is the state of our nation. :)

Again and again, hope

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I find mercy in the rhythms of everyday life. My heart is heavy with news of a Dutch priest and psychotherapist, who chose to stay in danger and solidarity with the people of Syria whom he has been serving for decades, killed three days short of his 76th birthday. That was ten days ago. This week, a bombing at a Catholic school in Damascus, Syria, killed a nine year old and injured 45. My heart worries and aches for the people of Ukraine. Rwanda is observing remembrance, of the awful genocide twenty years ago, and remarkable steps toward healing and reconciliation since. Holy week marches on.

 

Girl two has become fascinated with St. Rose of Lima. She knows little about her, the name, “Rose,” is the focus of adoration.

“What’s Lima?” she wanted to know.

I told her it was a city in Peru, the same place a close friend of ours is from.

Girl two’s eyes lit up. “Does that mean,” she said breathless, “that St. Rose had brown skin too?”

“I think it does. Does that make you happy?” I ask.

“Yes,” said Girl two. “Brown skin is so beautiful. And it sparkles. Especially in the sun. You have to see it in the sun. I love the sparkles so much.”

Fear despises difference. Love sees the sparkles.

 

Spring has sprung the coils in the children’s brains. Boy two has been on a rampage of neglected duties. A few days ago he came to me with great sincerity and measured tone.

“I have a question,” he said. “I have brushed the horse and fed the chickens. I’ve collected the eggs and put away my school things. I’ve emptied the ash and practiced my piano. Is there anything else I need to do, or I have I done enough to be iddal now.” (think “little,” with no “l”)

I blink while my brain works to solve the puzzle of  “iddal.”

“Is it possible that you read the word, ‘I. D. L. E.’ in a book and you are trying to pronounce it?” I ask. “Because  you say the word with a long I. Idle.”

“Iddal. Idle. Whatever.  So have I done to be idle now?”

 

Mother Teresa, who surely saw more than the average share of the world’s pain, said that “love begins at home.” We are all of us insufficient to alleviate the needs of so vast a world. It is a crisis of immensity with a place to start. The radical promise of Easter.

In barren fields, things unexpected grow. The world disintegrates and love is made new again. Hope, peace, joy, rise rediscovered, and renewed.

 

I will be taking a few days off from the blog, back on Tuesday, next week. In eager expectation and gratitude, may we walk toward the hope that is Easter. And may we be iddal long enough to hear the ballads of miracle and mystery that bid us also to rise up.

Good questions

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Girl one:

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?

Yes.

In our country?

Yes.

Good. I want to be a nun.

That’s nice.

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.