November 20, 2018, Floating

*Isobel is home sick today with a cough and a cold. We curled up in bed for cuddles and I started to fall asleep (guess I’m coming down with it too), but then she made some funny noises and I opened my eyes.*

“Nyuuuuuyyhhhhhh. Urrrghhhhhnyuuuuh.”
“Is, you better not fart in my bed.”
“No, Mommy, I’m not farting. I’m trying to float up to the ceiling.”
“Okay, good luck.”
“Thanks! UUURRGHhhhhhhhhhh…”



Monday, October 22, After Bedtime

*Isobel had a best friend in kindergarten named Thalia. She moved away before first grade started. We tried to keep in contact, but at this point, for me to text her mom again would probably hover in the area of stalking… so. I let go.
Isobel’s best friend in first grade was Kara. She moved away before second grade started. They’re still best buddies- Is talks about Kara almost every day, and they Facetime each other. They write letters and send packages. But they haven’t seen each other since the beginning of the summer.*

“Mom. I wonder if I’ll ever see Kara or Thalia again.”
“Well, babe, I’m sure you’ll see Kara pretty soon. But Thalia… I’m not so sure.”
“Well, you remember we had what, two playdates set up with Thalia, and they had to cancel both?”
“I texted her mom, but she hasn’t texted back. She might have gotten a new phone or something… and I stopped texting her because it was kind of getting weird.”
“But I’ll see Kara?”
“Of course! We’ll organize ourselves and visit them, or maybe you’ll see her when they come up here during the holidays to see her grandmas.”
“But Thalia. I’ll never see her again?”
“We don’t know that, babe. Maybe you’ll see her somewhere, and then you two can hug.”
“When we see Kara, we need to buy her those Cadbury cookies she likes. Thalia likes Milanos.”
“I can score cookies, no problem.”
“Good night, Mommy.”
“Have good dreams, babe.”
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Monday, Sept. 24, A Different Rainbow

*Most mornings, I get up between 5:30 and 6 am. I get to have a shower (alone!) and start preparing for our day before Isobel gets up, usually around 6:40. Today, Is got up a little early, so we were in the kitchen together at 6:40. I noticed the sun rising outside of the east-facing window, and called her over to look. She was amazed.*

“Oh, Mommy! Look at the sky!”
“That’s sunrise, baby. Pretty, yes?”
“It’s like a tie dye! It’s pink and orange and that’s like turquoise…”
“I see! Look over there, purple, too!”
“Oooooh!!! It’s like a different rainbow.”


Wednesday, September 12, A list

*Is had a bit of a stomachache when she got home from school. Was it the heat? Is she sick? No way to know ’til tomorrow. She’s feeling better- sleeping now. Before she goes to bed every night, we go over good dreams- a list of good things to dream about, in case she has a bad dream, she can remember our list and grab some material for a good dream right away.
Tonight, Isobel had a different list for me…*

“Mom, I have a different list.”
“My number one favorite thing is you and Dad.”
“Then, hanging with other friends.”
“That’s nice.”
“And small animals.”
“Of course.” I tell her to hang on a second and I bounce into the kitchen and grab a notebook.
“And pink, soft, sparkly things.”
“I’m not surprised.”
“Ha! And swimming and Biggie’s!” (her fave restaurant)
“Good choice…”
“And my birthday.”
“Mmmmhmmm. Aw, that’s a nice one…”
“And… well, my room, and my bed.”
“Three more and we have a list of ten!”
“My whole entire house… and my toys.”
“I can see that.”
“Food and drinks.”
“That’s funny, Is, don’t you have a favorite food or drink?”
“No, just put food and drinks. I like food, and I like drinks, so put it down.”

*I comply.*

“And the last one… the last one, is Snuggles.” She holds up her starting-to-get-beat-up rainbow dog toy that she sleeps with every night, and kisses it.

*That’s it, Isobel’s 10 most favorite things at 7 years old.*


Monday, September 10- on boredom

*Isobel, like most kids, will sometimes come to me and complain that she’s bored. I used to try and point her to things she could do, or offer to teach her to clean the toilets (she always demurred, hmmm…) anyway, I try to distract her, or tell her to find something else to do.
About a year ago, I shared an epiphany with Isobel that I’d had when I was around 10. We were visiting my aunt for Christmas, and I went up to her and told her I was bored. Now, this aunt was a professional journalist, tall, slim, and imposing, with flame-red hair and icy blue Irish eyes. She smoked constantly, and had a modern house full of books. She had a sheltie and I just loved her. But I complained, as all kids do, and what she said to me stuck with me forever, and I haven’t been bored since. She said, “Boredom comes from within,” turned on her heel and walked away, leaving me there with my mouth open and my mind blown.
Now, when Is comes to me with boredom troubles, since she knows the story, I tell her, “Boredom comes from within,” and leave her to it. She usually finds something else to do.
Not today.*

“Mom, I’m bored.”
“Boredom comes from…” I pause, because Isobel holds up her hand to stop me.
“Look, Mom, I don’t want any of this ‘boredom comes from within’ stuff. I’m just bored.”
“Want to learn to clean the toilets?”

Sunday, September 2, A Butterfly Death

*A few weeks ago, my friend gave me some caterpillars to watch for her while they were away. The bugs were supposed to make chrysalides and become beautiful Monarch butterflies that we could then release in her pollinator-friendly garden.
The first one hatched as we watched in awe, and then with mounting concern as the thing flopped around on the bottom of the jar, unable to right itself. I carefully poured the hatching butterfly and all the other chrysalides (all but 1 were on the floor of the jar) into the butterfly net habitat I’d bought in case they hatched while my friend was still away.
The butterfly, whom Isobel named Beauty, managed to climb up the side of the netting, where she hung for a day or so. Her wings were misshapen- curled up at the edges and stuck together. We decided that Beauty would be Isobel’s first pet. Yes, Is had been begging for years to get a kitten, but her first pet ended up being a disabled butterfly. Life is what happens when you’re making other plans, right?
Isobel and Beauty were the best of buddies- Beauty liked to sit in Is’s hand and just hang out and flutter a bit, then go back in her habitat and climb on leaves and enjoy sugar water.
3 days ago, the other one hatched. The other 3 chrysalides didn’t work out- 2 died and the last was a hideously deformed monster that only lived for a few minutes after emerging… who knew so many things could go so wrong with butterflies?
A lot, as it turns out. The new butterfly, named Shippy Whippy, can’t fly- it fell down the stairs yesterday when we released it, instead of gracefully flying away to enjoy an outdoor life pollinating the flowers. We returned Shippy to the butterfly habitat after I caught it as it flapped pitifully in circles on the ground.
Beauty died yesterday. When I broke the bad news to Isobel…*

She came over, looked at Beauty, who was sort of tipped over on the floor of the habitat, and asked, “Mom, are you sure she’s dead? She might just be sleeping.”
“Okay,” I said. “Should we just leave her there for a while?”
“Yes. Maybe butterflies are really heavy sleepers.”

*Today, we got Beauty ready for her funeral. I sprayed her with a few coats of lacquer- Is wants to keep her body in the butterfly-shaped trinket box I bought to serve as her coffin. But, she doesn’t want to bury it- she wants to keep it in her room. I said okay. Is had a few questions while we prepared Beauty…*

“Mom, I’m really sad.”
“That’s okay, babe. It’s totally normal to be sad when your pet dies.”
“But, I don’t want you to try and cheer me up.”
“Okay. Can I just sit and be sad with you?”
“That would be okay.”

*She put her head on my shoulder and we sat a step down from the box Beauty’s body sat in, drying after the first coat of lacquer.*

“I wonder what it’s like to be dead.”
“I guess we’ll all find out eventually.”
“I bet it’s like sleeping, but never waking up.”
“That sounds AWESOME. Sign my ass up right now!” I slowly tipped over on the steps, eyes closed, next to Beauty’s box.
Is laughs.
“No! Mom! There’ll be no more hugs! You won’t be able to read any more books!”
“Wait a second. No snuggles? No more hanging out with you and Dad?”
“Ah, then forget it.” I straightened up and turned Beauty over for another coat.
“Mom… And when you’re dead, the birds eat your blood… And you have to hang out in a coffin that’s hard, like Dracula, and there’s not even a blanket.”
“Oh, no way. I’m out. I’m gonna live forever, then.”
“Me, too.”


Friday, August 31, after bedtime

*We went out for dinner tonight and stayed out late. On the way home, while trying to spot wild beasts as we drove through the deep dark woods (which Isobel calls the ‘deep duck woods’), we started talking about what time we all go to sleep.*

“So, Daddy goes to bed the latest, and Mom goes to bed earlier, and I go to bed the earliest.”
“That’s right.”
“And so I get the most sleep, and Mom the middle, and Dad is last.”
“Okay, that sounds right.”
“Mom, there’s always a sleepy self in everyone.”
“Hahaha, yes, that’s true.”


August 1, 2018, Spherical Earth

*Is is home today with a cold, watching a movie by Universal Pictures. Between sniffles, she points at the curvature of the Earth in the opening credits and says how pretty it is…*

“Yes, baby, it’s gorgeous. Hey, did you know some people think the Earth is flat?”
“What? Grown ups?”
“But… you’re not flat. And you live on the Earth.”
“That’s true.”
“So, how could the Earth be flat? How would it spin?”
“It’s not flat, some people just think it is.”
*Is shakes her head disbelievingly.*

July 31, 2018, After Now

*You know when you try to explain something to your kid when you’re trying to do something else at the same time? Yeah, like that.*

*Today, Isobel is sick. She’s got a terrible summer cold, snotty, coughing, miserable. The doc said yesterday to just ride it out and treat the symptoms- so she’s got some meds on board and is feeling a little better, just tired and not herself. Sometimes when she’s not feeling well, I like to surprise her with a new toy or movie. This morning, I had Amazon open looking for something when…*

“Mom. When I’m sick sometimes you give me a new toy.”
“So, can I have a new toy? I’m sick. Please?”
*I relent.*
“Okay. What would you like? Under $20.”
“A stuffed animal!”
*Of course. Because we only have 75,000 other stuffed animals.*
“Okay, hey Amazon has this thing, where you can order it and get it the same day. Want to try it?”
“WOW! We don’t have to go out or anything? I don’t want to go out.”
“Nope. They’ll deliver it right to you.”
*I sort it and she picks out some huge, fluffy, white kitty. I click the button and like magic, it’s on the way.*
“Okay, it’s on the way.”
“Really? When will it get here?”
“It says before nine p.m.”
“That’s past my bedtime!”
“Yep, but it’s the best they can do.”
*Is goes off to curl up on the couch with her iPad, and I start doing whatever housekeeping shit I am trying to keep up with. A few hours later…*
“Mom! Let’s check for the kitty!”
*We go outside, no kitty. Now I’m cooking dinner and I try to explain…*
“Babe, it might get here after dinner. I have to go cook. Let’s check again later.”
“But you said it’ll be here by nine!”
“Yes, and it’s only five now. So… that’s how many hours?”
*She trails me into the kitchen.*
“But, I guess it’s four. But four more hours? When will it be here, though?”
“After now, Is, since we just checked. We can check again before dinner and after, and then before bed if it’s still not here, okay?”
“Okay. After now?”
“After now. Later.”

May 21, Opening Morning Bananas

*Every day, Isobel likes to have a banana as part of her breakfast. This morning, around seven, I turn around while I’m making her lunch, to see her struggling to peel open a banana from the stem end.*

“Hey, Is, look, I used to peel bananas like that. But if you turn it around and open it from the other end, it’s way easier. I saw a monkey open it like this on a video a while ago. See?”

*She hands me the banana and I press open the other end, and magic! It opens right away. She looks from me to the banana, and back again and says…*

“Mom. When did you learn to do that?”
“I don’t know, last year, year before? Why?”
“So, you were, what, forty-eight?”
“Um, I guess so.”
“So, you were not smarter than a monkey until you were forty-eight.”
“Huh. I guess that’s true. I’m probably still not smarter than a monkey.”