November 20, 2017- Family Flowers

*After school today, Isobel is sitting at the kitchen table finishing her snack. I join her with a cup of tea and we talk about our days for a few minutes, and then, apropos of nothing, she picks up this little Nutcracker ornament she bought the other day, looks at it thoughtfully, and says…*

“I think that families are like flowers. The petals that fall off are like the people who die, and are dying. And the petals that come on are the new people being born. And there are a lot of flowers in the world, and there are a lot of families in the world.”

*I’m silent for a moment, taking it in, turning it over in my mind, then I get up and grab a slip of paper and a pen and write it all down. I don’t want to lose this.*

“Is, I think the inside of your head is the most beautiful place in the world.”

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November 3, 2017- Sore throat

*Isobel is home today with a sore throat and ears. It’s not strep- phew! We took her to the doctor this morning to make sure, as she had strep four times last year. Everything’s okay, no fever. Her throat hurts when she swallows water, so I made her some blueberry tea with honey. What she really wants (and always wants when she’s sick) is a Pedialyte popsicle- but I think I’ve convinced her that it will only hurt her throat worse to have something frozen if cold water hurts…*

“Mom, this is disgusting.”
“Aw, I’m sorry, but you said the cold water hurts your throat, so the pop will make it worse, babe.”
“I hate tea.”
“There are like a million kinds of tea. How about some black tea with cream and sugar?”
“I guess I could try it…”

*She won’t have soup either, even if I put a shitload of noodles in there, so I try the black tea, light and sweet. It’s almost cake it’s so good. I give her a graham cracker and half a cup of tea.*

“Well, this isn’t so… oh uggghhhhhh. It tastes like air!”
“Air?”
“Like nothing!”
“Oh, well, maybe it’s…”
“It’s like garbage water!”
“Damn, Is, that’s harsh for tea. It’ll make your throat feel better though, if you drink it. Can you just try a little?”
“Maybe it makes my throat feel better, but it makes my tongue sick!”

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November 1, 2017- After her bath

*After Isobel’s bath today, she is drying off when she stops, looks up at me, and says…*

“Mom. If there were no girls, there would be no babies.”
“Right. But the girls still need boys.”

*Now, since the kid is only six, I’ve only explained the process of how a baby grows and is born- not how it actually got IN THERE. I’m sure that conversation is inescapable, but I’m not rushing into that part of the whole thing.*

“But why? Only girls can have babies.”
“That’s right. But girls need boys to start the baby- like remember, the egg comes from the girl, and the sperm comes from the boy, and they fit together, and then the baby grows in the girl.”

*She considers this a moment, her head tilted to the side, turquoise turban getting darker as it wicks water from her freshly washed hair.*

“Kind of like a puzzle.”
“What, a baby?”
“Yeah, the pieces fit together- to make a baby puzzle.”
“You got it.”

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Saturday, October 28, A Baby Shower

*Today’s a busy day. Our morning began with the town’s Ragamuffin Parade, where all the kids get together in their Halloween costumes and walk from the main drag up the hill to the elementary school, where they trick or treat in the gym, then there’s an old-fashioned bake sale. It’s 100% adorable. We’ve never been able to do it before, as it was much too far to walk with my original shitty hips, but with these brand new shiny titanium ones, I was first in line to sign Isobel up this year. Next, we were invited to our next door neighbor’s baby shower, and later tonight, we’re heading to a birthday party in another state. That’s a lot for one day- we usually don’t do this much in a week. We’re getting ready to head over to the baby shower when Isobel’s question makes me realize that not only has she never been to a baby shower; she has absolutely no idea what a baby shower is.*

“Mom. So, does she have the baby in the shower?”
“What?”
“You know, the baby shower.”
“Dude. I’m sorry, I should have explained this better. No, babe, a baby shower is where a woman who’s pregnant has a party, and people give her presents for her and her baby. We sort of shower her with gifts, but not in a shower. See?”
“So, no shower.”
“No, not a real shower, like in a bathroom, no. It’s a party for the mom and baby.”
“Okay. But she’s not having the baby?”
“No, not today at the party. She’ll have the baby when the baby is ready to come out.”
“Huh. Can I still wear my Halloween costume?”
“Of course.”

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Saturday, October 21, Big Ducks

*We go to a Japanese restaurant in New York City sometimes, now, more often since I’ve had my hips fixed and can get out and about. Tonight, we met some friends there for dinner. This place amazes Isobel- she not only loves the food, but the bathroom is covered in graffiti. We were there once and she wasn’t eating, so I told her she could write one thing on the bathroom wall if she ate her dinner- and now it’s a thing we do every time we go. Tonight, after dinner, she motions for me to take her to the bathroom, and asks if I have my Sharpie.*

“You got it, Mom?”
“Yes, I remembered…”
“Okay.”

*We go in the bathroom, and as Isobel is choosing a spot for her artwork, she starts to read the walls. I was afraid of this…*

“Mommy. It says, wait, it says, ‘I love big ducks.'”
“Um, yes.” **THAT IS NOT WHAT IT SAID.**
“But why would someone write that on a wall?”
“No idea, babe. Maybe they’re really into ducks, like you’re into flamingos.”

*She stands back and stares at the wall for a moment. I’ve got to distract her before she figures out it says DICKS and not DUCKS, and the next question comes at me.*

“Hey, Is, look at this weird sticker. What are you gonna write?”
“Oh, I got it all figured out! I’m gonna write WE WILL ROCK YOU.”
“That’s perfect. Let’s go.”

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October 18, 2017 – Problem Solved

*Isobel is in first grade. In class, the kids sit grouped together by fours and fives- there is one girl at Is’s table who, sometimes, just isn’t that nice. Today, Is reported that this girl grabbed a boy’s math work and threw it on the floor. Then she turned and said to Is, “Why are you always staring at people?”*

“Mommy, she always says I’m staring at her.”
“Are you?”
“No, I’m just looking around.”
“Okay, did it bother you that she said that?”
“Well, yes.”
“Huh. Well, you could really, really stare at her, like this…” And I stare at Isobel, really hard, and when she starts to smile, I turn my head a little, but don’t smile back, kinda creepy-like.
“But, Mom, that’s not how we do things now.”
“Oh?”
“No, when there’s a problem, we don’t just do something back to someone. Like when you were in school. Like in old times.”
“Huh. Like old times.”
“Yeah. It’s much gentler now.”
“It sounds like it. That’s nice. Okay, so what do you do now? How would you handle it?”
“I already told her I’m not staring at her.”
“Good! That should do it, right?”
“I’m not sure… she says it all the time.”
“Huh. Well, what else can you do?”
“Well, I don’t want to get clipped down, so I could just tell the teacher.”
“That seems like a good idea. Will you do that the next time she bothers you?”
“Yeah! Thanks for solving all my problems!”
“You really solved your problem, Is, if you think about it.”

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October 11, 2017, with ninjas

*We’re talking about family at dinner, and Isobel asks if there are people in the family she hasn’t yet met. Among others, I mention a cousin who lives in Japan. He’s an artist, does amazing cut paper work, and is also a new father. I jump up and pull a magnet off the fridge- it’s a picture of one of his pieces- a slinky black rabbit in motion, paper curling like smoky ribbons around his body. Is is impressed.*

“Mom, so, my cousin is an artist?”
“Well, he’s my first cousin, and so he’s your first cousin, once removed. And yes, he’s a professional artist.”

*Her eyes get big, and I can almost smell her thinking.*

“Mom. Wow.”
“I know! He’s amazing. He does all this work by hand. Pretty cool, eh?”
“It’s very cool! Hey, is he a ninja?”
“What?”
“A ninja. Because he lives in Japan.”

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October 6, 2017- After bedtime

*We’ve been reading Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince. We’re just getting to the part (spoiler alert) where Dumbledore and Harry are in the cave, about to get the Horcrux. I’m a bit concerned reading this part before Isobel goes to sleep. I stop right before Harry puts the goblet in the water.*

“We’ll finish this part tomorrow, I told you, these books get scarier now. We can read it in the afternoon, we’ll do some Eloise or something else before bed, okay?”
“I think I’m going to have bad dreams anyway!”
“I hope not. Let’s do our good dreams on the monitor.”

*I hug her and stroke her nose a few times, like I’ve done since she was an infant, then go grab the monitor.*

“Want me to go first?”
“Yes!”
“Okay, um, it’s a three day weekend! So, no school on Monday!”
“Ooh! Really?”
“Yep. Your turn.”
“I’m too tired, you just do the good dreams.”
“All right. Let’s see. We got to see Grandma for dinner, that was nice.”
“Yes… …”
“And maybe we’ll go to the beach on Monday, it’s supposed to be good weather.”
“The beach! We can go to the beach, instead of school! I can play in the sand?”
“Sure, baby, it’ll be fun. So, dream about that, okay?”
“Mommy, I think we just came up with the medicine for bad dreams.”
“I sure hope so.”

P.S. She had GOOD DREAMS last night! Not one nightmare. The medicine works!

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October 3, 2017, after bedtime

*She’s supposed to be sleeping. It’s been a busy day- school, swimming lesson (in the big pool today!), and dinner with a friend. Plus, I am rockin’ my new ‘always patient mom, goddamn it’ self. I’m trying to, anyway. Then, on the monitor…*

“Mom. I made up a word.”
“Oh yeah?”
“Yeah. Wanna hear it?”
“Sure.”
“Twickerninge.”
“Okay. What does it mean?”
“I’ll tell you when I find out.”
“Haha, okay babe. Go to sleep, it’s getting late.”
“Okay. Good night.”

*Some time passes, just a little.*

“Mom.”
“Yeah, babe.”
“It means an animal eating. Like, look, twickerninge over there, standing up. See, I used it in a sentence.”
“That is amazing.”
“I know, right?”
“Good night, babe.”
“Good night, Mommy.”

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September 27, 2017- at night

*On the way home from dinner with some friends in the city…*

“Mom.”
“Yes?”
“Nights are my favorite.”
“Why?”
“Well, you get to sleep. And you get to see the moon. And the colorful lights on the buildings. And you can see the stars- they look like little lights inside the sky. And we can play the game with the eyes.”
“Oh, the game where we pretend lights in between the trees are creepy creatures?”
“Yes! I love that game.”
“Me, too. I guess night is also my favorite.”
“It’s the best.”

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