Wednesday, December 29, 2010

still waters run deep

Okay, so I don't post as often as I could, right? Little things happen here and there every day that either astonish me or crack me up. Often, they blitz out of my mind with the changing of the next dirty diaper duo. But sometimes I get set to share something, and I realize that it's not going to make an impression on anybody who doesn't have any 19-month-olds around to understand exactly what I mean. And in a couple of months, I'm going to have lost all frame of reference myself.

But I wanted to write this one down, so I need to explain a little bit of background:

Noah doesn't talk yet. Not really. He says a bunch of consonant sounds that are his words, but there are only 15-20 of those that I've nailed down as consistent words. (Things like "na-na" for banana, "bah" for bib or ball--or blocks or box or bye!--you get the idea.) 20 words isn't too bad, but in the grand scheme of things, it's not a lot. He still depends on his signs though, and uses them pretty consistently. Yesterday he even started using the sign for "daddy" even though I haven't used it with him in at LEAST 6 months. Crazy!

I digress... As far as their comprehension, both the babies are pretty good at following one-step concrete directions--sometimes even two-step ones--but their grasp of the abstract is... well, a bit lacking for obvious reasons. We know they understand more and more all the time, but we don't know how much.

Anyway, about a week ago we came back from a visit to Gemma and Granddad's. We brought back a picture of them which Scott posted on the fridge. Noah noticed it, and had fun pointing out Gemma and Granddad. He then pointed to the other prominent picture on the fridge, the save-the-date for my brother Michael and his fiancee Danielle. They're getting married next week and we're flying to see them. He had NO clue who they were (he's seen them twice, most recently 7 months ago), so I said, "That's Uncle Michael and Aunt Danielle". He pointed, but... I mean, really--how was he supposed to know who they were? But you're supposed to talk to your babies, so I figured I might as well say their names.

Okay, fast forward a bit. A few nights ago, I was rocking the kiddos in their room before putting them to bed. We heard a plane fly overhead, and Noah signed "plane" (with sound effects, of course). I said, "Yes, that's a plane." Then, because you're supposed to talk to your babies, I figured--what the hey, I may as well explain more even though he's not going to understand. So I continued, "We're going to go on a plane. We're going to get on it and fly in the sky to go see Michael and Danielle."

He BURST out sobbing, and signed that he was scared. I shushed him, bewildered--SURELY this child had no clue what I was talking about. He knows airplanes as things he waves bye-bye to in the sky--how on earth could he have the concept that they're big enough to carry people? I figured he had misunderstood somehow. So I explained again, "No, it's okay! It's a plane. Mommy and Daddy and Noah and Lily are going to go on a plane. We're going to fly in the sky and go see Michael and Danielle."

BIG sobs, and more professed fear. I was pretty amazed at this point. I mean, his idea of what I was talking about had to be pretty limited, but he understood a lot more than I had given him credit for.

...and now the REAL story I was leading up to:

Today, I was helping Noah wash his hands at the sink when he pointed over to the fridge. But he wasn't pointing at Gemma and Granddad--instead, he pointed to Michael and Danielle, signed "airplane" and then "scared".


How in the world did he remember those names and put all that together??!! I have no idea. But I'm going to start reading Dickens to him tomorrow.

And the morals of this story are:

1) We may be in for a real meltdown on our plane trip next week.

2) You really never know what your kids understand. Seriously!

3) If you EVER plan to have children, TEACH THEM TO SIGN!!! I can't believe how much of a blessing and a window into their little minds it has been!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

my title

Mommies do lots of things, I'm finding.

Among other things, I am:

Kisser of Boo-Boos
Singer of Songs
Spinner of Stories
Tickler of Ribs
Captain of the Anti-Furniture-Climbing Squad
Chief Cook (and Veggie Hider)
All 3 branches of the government--I can create a law, enforce it, and sentence the guilty in under 1 minute
Master Peek-a-Boo-ist
Professor of English (and Math, and Science, and Ethics, and Everything Else)
Family Photographer and Historian
Guardian of the Remote Controls (and anything else with BUTTONS!)
Human Jungle Gym
Senior Laundress
Head of Purchasing
Dispenser of Marshmallows

And sometimes I even sit down.

At times it is wearying. (Okay, daily.) For example: I dream my lamplit visions of a Christmas morning of perfection, of smiles and hugs and cuddles. Of my children graciously eating their food (without throwing any on the floor). And then I come to the reality that there will be plenty of screaming and squabbles and tantrums and time-outs, just like any other day.

But if Christmas will be just like any other day, then any other day is just like Christmas. While I don't see the sort of linear progress or payback that might seem logical, there are other bonuses. Like the fact that I lose track of how many sweet smiles, hugs, and kisses I get all the time. And that I get applauded for opening the garage door (no kidding--they are THRILLED!). Even turning on a faucet is pretty much magical. So even if the days can be long and ordinary, and even if my ideas of what make a day special don't quite happen... well, at least I should get couple kisses if I happen to bang my knee. And even if my efforts at Christmasy-ness seem to go unnnoticed by my wee ones... well, I'm sure they'll give me applause for flushing the toilet!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

sometimes you just gotta stop and pet the doggies

When I was younger I remember my parents and other adults mentioning things about kids being very observant and noticing little details of things. I think I remember it because it didn't make any sense to me.

But now I think I know what they meant. Did you know that approximately 38,401 airplanes fly over our house every day? Neither did I, until Noah started pointing out every. single. one. And there are WAY more trains running through this neck of the woods than I ever knew about. I now am aware of all of them, though--Lily doesn't like them, so every time she hears a train whistle (even faintly), she screws up her face into an anguished look, says "Ooohhh!!" in a pained tone, and pats her chest (our sign for "scared").

Toddlers bring renewed meaning to the idea that it's not the destination, but the journey, that's important. We were getting family pictures taken a couple of weeks ago at a state park. As we traipsed along with our photographer, two women walking dogs came at us from the other direction. Listening to my children, you would've thought they'd just discovered the entire world was made of candy or something. I mean, come on--we HAVE two dogs! The ladies and their dogs seemed friendly, so we stopped and let Noah and Lily get acquainted for a minute. As we walked away, I realized that I hadn't even thought about how our photographer might not have the priority of stopping to pet every dog in the world. But she has small children too, so hopefully she didn't mind!

Back when the babies were little, I realized that having children totally overhauls your ideas about productivity. Sitting around waiting for two newborns to wake up and need to eat didn't feel very useful, although it was. The rest of my life's activities had ground to an immediate halt. Now, at least, I can go about most of my usual business--I just have to stop for several detours along the way. Shopping at Wal-Mart? Sure. We just have to pass by (and discuss) the bananas, cookies, and Elmo, along with dozens of other things. Because what to me is a shopping trip is an adventure to my incredibly observant, 90-mile-an-hour toddlers. It's very fun if I can remember to be patient and not be in a hurry all the time. The times I forget to be patient... well, it's not so fun. But there's always another doggie around the next corner to let me try again.