Meddling

cherry tomatos

 

It took a full sixty seconds before she could get hold of her giggles long enough to tell me why she called.

“What’d he do now?” I smiled.

You see, she has a four-year-old and an 18 months old. Both precious. One precocious.

The preschooler omits some speech sounds and makes a salad of most others. He knows what he wants to say (and has much to impart from dawn to evening), but the production message from his brain to mouth muscles doesn’t always come through organized. We’ve been working on improving motor planning and sound production, and he’s been making steady progress. He is a studious little dude and follows instruction well enough, but what he really adores is experimenting: With his father’s shaving cream and his mother’s makeup, with his little brother’s haircut and diaper-rash cream, with words and their meaning.

“I was making him a salad,” the mom hiccupped, still not quite over her laugh-a-thon, “and silly me, I thought I could slip in a tomato.”

I grinned. Silly indeed … This boy loves some vegetables … but he is also the kid who declared “tomatoes are mean because they look like cherries but they taste yucky.”

“So, he takes one look at the plate and shakes his finger at me, saying ‘Mommy, I told you five times already. Why you meddling my dinner?'”

 

 

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Temporary Paragon

grandmas graphics

illustration: grandmasgraphics.com

She is a paragon of deliberateness. Personifies all things just-so aligned. Her veggies must be on the left, her french-fries on the right.

She draws her letters so they march in perfect rows. No effort (or eraser) spared to ensure strict discipline among her lines.

She is a model of sheer focus. She will not be dissuaded. She absolutely won’t be rushed.

She examines every detail for correctness, chooses only hues that match.

She rejects any suggestion to skip corners or leave even the least uneven mark.

She will garner no discussion. Her exactness is fiercely protected.

All things must be in place. Each squiggle inspected.

Until an ice-cream truck chimes outdoors … and messy life once more accepted.

 

 

 

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Half-Punctured

IMG-20170614-WA0009

She came in half-victorious, half-blushing.

“I have a earring,” she announced.

“Emphasis on the singular,” the mom added pointedly.

The five-year-old glanced at her mom, narrowed her eyes in potential protestation and shrugged. “I still have a earring,” she stressed. “See?” she turned her face to showcase a glittery heart on an exposed earlobe. I peeked around her head: the other earlobe was conveniently concealed under a lock of hair.

“She refused to have the other one done,” the mom sighed.

“It hurt!” the gal accused.

“I told you it would hurt a little,” her mom responded, “you said you wanted earrings anyway.”

“Yeah, but it hurt a LOT!”

I had a feeling this was a dialogue with some accumulated mileage.

“So …” I interfered, “you have one pierced ear … Doesn’t it mean you can wear only half of your new earrings?”

She considered that.

“Yeah,” she twisted her lip in contemplation. “But … maybe I’ll have the other one done … I mean … when I’m older. Maybe like, twelve. Or even nine.”

 

 

 

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Natty Patty

fashionista stool

 

Her closet is a playground. Her vanity and mirror reflect paradise. She prances with a feather boa. She jingles bangles, beads, and bracelets. She twirls her skirts and points her toes for glimpses of a toenail polish. She sings as she applies her makeup, adores her hair elaborately done. She claps at tutus, ribbons, purses. Has ensembles de rigueur for the library, parties, park benches. She dresses up for the bathroom. She spruces up old pajamas for pizazz. Savors weekend deliberations for outfits in the days to come. She dreams of owning a boutique and her bedroom offers a perpetual rehearsal: dots and stripes, waves and glory, gold and hearts, purple and pink. Her shirts have flare, her shirts can sparkle, her shoes light up, her ribbons glitter, she is a glory in the sun.

She’s the family fashionista, put together to the ninths.

 

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A Little Closer

vugust on tumblr

Photo: vugust on tumblr

 

“Granpa is no here anymore,” he stated, morose, “he go back to very far.”

The little boy raised impossibly long-lashed honey eyes to me but I didn’t think he was looking at anything in the room. His eyes were seeing through the walls and out to where a presence is not constrained by oceans, mileage, and topography.

His little face was pinched in a sad frown and he fingered the edge of his shirt, before taking in a long breath that seemed to fill not only his lungs but also return the sparkle into his eyes. He pointed a small finger at the center of his chest. Exhaled. Took another breath.

“But Granpa no really faraway,” he declared, the last two words blended into one in a sing-song. “My heart think so he only little closer very far.”

 

 

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A New Friend

seat

Photo: duffylondon.com

 

There needs to be an extra chair now at the table, another place setting, extra fork. The bath requires extra towels. Reading choices necessitate an added pause. There are lively conversations from the bedroom, laughter, whispered dialogue, deep monologues. A seat to save in rides, a window-or-middle deliberation. Opinions of a first-line advisor, a determined intermediate, a confidante.

Granted, he is secretive, selective, and exclusive. It doesn’t mean he isn’t a good friend.

Accepting him is fact, not question. Get used to it. He’s there. He may not show up to explain, but he will not be ignored or shunned. Be nice. He has deep feelings. He has needs. A keen mind.

Should not matter that he is a dragon-human made of magic. Invisible to all but a certain little one.

 

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Nana the Notorious

RandyDinkins-grandparent

Betterphoto.com

 

He strode up the steps with a grin as wide as the Mississipi, a cup the size of Texas in his hands. The bright contents were positively florescent. His teeth were cornflower blue. His tongue looked painted.

“I have a slushy!” he announced.

“I see!” I commented, amused.

“Nana got me,” he added.

I smiled. I didn’t think his mom – who kept close watch over her son’s intake of junk of any form – would have gotten him this “certainly-no-food-in-nature-has-this-color” slushy, let alone a bathtub of it.

“Mama’s not home,” the boy declared. “She coming back Friday.”

“In San-Francisco,” Nana made an appearance at the landing leading to the last flight of stairs. “Business meetings.” She was a little out of breath but seemed as ebullient as her grandson. Her arms were laden with the boy’s panda bear backpack, her purse, a shopping bag, a phone, and her own cup of icy drink. Coffee, from the looks of it.

“Nana taking care of me,” he stated the obvious. He snuck a conspiratorial grin at his grandmother. “We got candy!” he pointed to the bag.

“For after dinner,” she blushed.

“But I can have one now,” he clarified. “Nana said.”

Her blush deepened and I chuckled.

“For right now, how about you take another sip or two from your slushy, then we’ll put it in the fridge where it can stay cold while we work,” I said.

The boy deflated some and glanced at his grandma, maybe to see if she’ll support him in a mutiny if he refused to part with his icy treat.

“I’ll take a sip from my ice-coffee and we can put my cup in the fridge, too,” she soothed. “This way we’ll both have some for the ride home, too!”

He pondered, eyebrows still in a huddle. “But I can have candy, right?”

She looked at me. “It’s gummies.”

“Sure,” I nodded. “You can have one, like Nana said you could. The rest will wait in the bag for you.”

His smile returned and he slurped more of the blue liquid. Then we ceremoniously made room for it in the fridge. Even without the tall straw, it dwarfed Nana’s “grande” cup.

The boy wiped both hands on his shirt, reached into the shopping bag and dug out a yellow gummy shaped suspiciously like a spider. He laughed at my exaggerated fright. “You’re silly! It’s not real. It’s just candy!”

He stuffed it into his mouth and spoke around it as he shimmied to his seat. “We having pizza for dinner, and we’ll watch a whole movie after. With popcorn even!”

“Sounds like you two are making the most of it,” I laughed.

“She’s so strict with him,” the grandmother confided. “She’s a great mom, don’t get me wrong, but all this no this, no that …” She caressed her grandson’s cheek and lowered herself to the couch with a sigh. “These stairs!”

“A kid’s gotta’ live a little,” she added. Her eyes sparkled. “I have him for two days and I intend to do my very best to spoil him.”

 

 

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A Way Out

Clay Tablet Babylon Ca. 2000-1700 BC

Clay Tablet Babylon (Ca. 2000-1700 BC); SCHOYENCOLLECTION.com

 

“I just get lost,” she sighed. Her pre-teen face was creased with dejection.

Schoolwork is hard for her. She tries but often fails to live up not only to the expectations of her school, but also – and harder still – to her own views of perfection. She begins. Gives up. Procrastinates. Misses deadlines. Then needs to make-up what she had delayed as well as keep up with current assignments. School is a merry-go-round of stress and frustration.

“Lost how?” I prompted. Not only did I want to understand more about what she’d meant (rather than assume I knew it), but one of the things we’d been working on is expanding her ability to narrate her feelings and perceptions, explain and communicate her needs.

She glanced at me, not quite in irritation, but almost.

“I’m not being tricky,” I smiled. “I really want to understand.”

“Fine,” she sighed again. Her brow furrowed as she thought, and she reached over to the pad of paper that rested on the desk between us. Doodling can sometimes help make paths for words.

She scribbled for a moment, then her breath deepened and she flipped to a new page on the pad. “It’s like this,” she said.

She drew a labyrinthine squiggle that turned several times onto itself. Added another squiggle that sprouted from it, then another, and another. Sketched a stick figure at one end of the criss-crossed creation  and a bulls-eye at the other. Looked up at me to see if I’m still paying attention.

Very much so. I smiled encouragement.

“I have stuff to do and I think I know how, but I start doing it and then I get stuck,” she moved her finger over the squiggle till it ‘hit a wall.’ “So I go back, and I try another way … and I get stuck again,” her finger slid on top of the paper to another dead-end.

She looked up again. Her eyes were bright.

“So I get lost …” she swiveled her finger around the squiggly lines in a half-aimless, half-frantic manner. “It’s too hard. I give up.”

“I hear you. I really do.” I nodded, lifted my pen, and drew another squiggle around hers, connecting the pencil figure with the bulls-eye. “We need to find a better way. A way without a maze.”

 

 

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