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?'”

 

 

For The Daily Post

Father Kindness

fathering

Photo: C. Moriah-Gibor

 

Be a father to the vulnerable

Guide the path of those who need

A lift

A helping hand.

Be a father to those seeking

To find shelter

Who need help to

Understand.

Show the way.

Provide

Kind counsel.

If by biology or presence

Be the best

Model

You can.

For it is by kindness

That fathering

Takes hold

And

Grows children

Strong

In body, heart

And mind.

 

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.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

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.

 

For The Daily Post

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.

 

For The Daily Post

Welcoming Hearts

tender hand

For all the mothers, biological and adoptive, temporary or ‘forever,’ immediate and surrogate, spiritual, female and otherwise …

A day of thanks, for open hearts.

A day for those who carry, hold, deliver, care-for;

For those who pat-the-back-of-babies through long nights, who walk a groove into the floors in the new-parent-dance;

For those who wipe the brow of fever, whose arms and hands are never empty, who fill a plate for others before sitting down for theirs;

For those who watch over the children while their parents cannot be there – day in and day out, in emergency, or any needed time;

For  those who fret and worry, contemplate and weigh each day, each milestone, each possible advance to a child’s healthy growing;

For those who open every corner of their heart for love far bigger than imagined;

For those who welcome little ones (and sometimes not so little) and parent, guide, teach, hug, steer safe, keep whole, allow, provide;

For those who still raise pieces of themselves even as they are called to raise others;

For those determined to change course from paths that harm, to ones that cradle;

For those who let be known that children matter, who fight to make the world a better place for those unable yet to lead but destined to inherit what we will leave them;

For the hospitality of parenting souls of all kinds;

For the depth of care so many offer;

For the triumphs and the challenges:

Deep thanks.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

You Better!

rainy day

 

He came up the stairs, looking like a cross between a drowned kitten and a frog: wet hair, clinging shirt, useless green umbrella and matching boots (with sloshy feet inside).

I smiled at him. He sighed.

“Yeah, I know,” he said, “I better …”

His father nodded.

Coded language.

I’ve heard it before.

“You better come right now!” “You better sit down quietly!” “You better not hit your brother!” “You better listen to the babysitter!” “You better not forget your homework again!” “You better not get this floor wet …”

You better? Better how?

More like “your life will be much worse, unless …”

I swallowed my own sigh. I don’t abide much by the “you better” style of communication. The dad was probably parroting the coded-directions of his own upbringing, spurred by habit, rigid expectation, his own fatigue.

“Looks like you two got caught in the downpour,” I smiled, took their umbrellas, and offered towels, a mat to put their footwear on, a plastic bag for wet things, a pair of dry socks for the boy. The minutia of a rainy day.

“He kept goofing around,” the dad grumbled. He pointed at the drenched boy in accusation, though he was only marginally less wet than his son (and had a bigger umbrella!). The father patted his arms dry, patted his son’s hair. He seemed embarrassed and glared at the errant rain drops on the floor as if they were proof of his son’s weathery misdemeanor.

“I ran because I didn’t want to get wet!” the boy retorted, eyes glistening.

“Sometimes there’s not much one can do to stay dry,” I soothed, and lifted the bag of extra child-size socks to emphasize my point. “It is raining hard and it is windy, too, so the umbrella probably can’t do much. I’d gotten soaked. Had to change.” I pointed at my clothing. “Not what I had on earlier.”

The boy threw a vindicated glance toward his dad.

“You better not give me any sass,” the parent reflexed.

The boy’s face darkened.

“You know what I think is better?” I interjected. “For all of us to come sit down and get dry and comfy …” I gestured toward the couch for the father to sit on, for the boy to take his seat by the table.

I wondered if the father was aware of just how alike his own expression was to the boy’s: a mix of combative, deferential, dejected and relieved.

The rest of the session went smoothly. By the end of it, the boy’s curls bounced back right along with his spirits. His dad’s mood improved, too, nourished in equal parts by the rain easing and the nap he’d managed to sneak in while his son and I worked.

They left calmly enough, but I’ll have to make time to speak with the parent. We spoke before on things that need discussing not in the child’s presence. I know the father means well. He’d told me he hadn’t had a close relationship with his parents. He had grown up with the threat (and frequent bite) of a switch, and he’d vowed to not repeat it. He does not raise a hand to the boy. This father wants better – the real better, not the threatened one – for his son. He’d told me he wishes for his son to be able to come to him with anything, interests or worries. Yet for now this parent’s very way of communicating stifles the possibility. He gets tripped by his own memories of what parental language ‘should be’ like. Maybe he knows no other way to exert control over a growing and often opinionated boy.

We’ll have a talk. The dad and I.

I know he wants better for the both of them.

“You better” is hardly is the better way.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

Cranky Monkey

 

CrankyPants Etsy.com

Photo: Etsy.com

 

 

He didn’t want to put on shoes. He didn’t want a sweater. He didn’t want to read a book. He didn’t like the weather.

He didn’t want to go outside. He didn’t want to play.

He didn’t want to take a walk. He didn’t want to stay.

He didn’t want to sit on lap. He didn’t want his chair. He didn’t want to play with blocks. He didn’t want his bear.

He never liked this yogurt. He never liked bananas. He never even wore this shirt. He hated these pajamas.

He didn’t want to take a bath. He hated Yellow Ducky. He didn’t want to wash his hands. The shampoo smelled yucky.

He didn’t like his bedroom. He didn’t like this bed.

He didn’t like this towel. The brush bothered his head.

A Cranky Monkey day to be

In Mama’s arms instead.

 

 

 

For The Daily Post

“I pleased her!”

siblings2

 

The cacophony coming from the children’s room was deafening.

She walked in to two small teary faces. One red with indignation, one blotchy with enraged demand. A pile of blocks depicted fresh ruins. A toy car spun a morose wheel toward an apathetic ceiling.

The wails rose to crescendo, a duet for justice.

She knelt to wrap an arm around each sobbing set of shoulders. “Shhh….” she cooed, “What happened?”

“He …” the girl accused, an index finger poking emphasis at her brother. “He broke my castle.” Tears flowed.

“I didn’t!” he protested, matching tear to bawl. “She push me! It broked!”

“He put the car on my castle! Castles are for princesses!”

“But …” he cried, insisted, “but … I said please, Mommy! I pleased her first!”

 

 

For The Daily Post