No, they’re not up for adoption
Yesterday my neighbor, a great-grandma who puts in long, faithful hours on her front porch, called out to me “I been reading you in the paper. Sounds like you’re ready to give those kids up for adoption.”
“You want them? I called back with a pasted smile, while the heat of shame prickled on my neck
It’s true, I’ve clogged newspapers, magazines and the internet with tales of my children that might prompt readers to order a little back up birth control. Sometimes when we’re at the library and Col is performing a raucous, inter-species orgy with the animal puppets and Rose is heaped in a teary puddle, I think if there’s anyone present who’s undecided about procreating, we may have just put a big, symbolic check mark on their “con” side.
My friend Sue told me how her husband called from work recently to check in on her and their daughters. The report was the older child was freaking out and the youngest had just pooped on a chair.
“So, just a normal morning?” Her husband said.
Just as normal as this exchange yesterday:
Rose: “Col threw a chip at my head!”
Me: “Why did you throw a chip at your sister’s head?
Col: “Because she wouldn’t give me a chip.”
Me: “Where’d you get the chip you threw at her?”
Rose: “I gave it to him.”
Me: (to Col) “Why didn’t you just eat it?”
Col: “I did.”
Me: “I thought you threw it at her.”
Rose: “He did!”
Me: “Did you eat it or did you throw it at her?”
Col: “I ate it after I took it out of her hair.”
I could pretend that some form of this doesn’t happen daily.
I could just write about how insanely cheerful and good-natured Col is. How recently Col had been putting his shoes on for ten minutes and when I went to check on him he was winding and unwinding the laces purposefully, getting nowhere. He chirped up to me “I’m just working on my shoes Mama.”
Or how Col and Dan have been geeking out every night, cutting and folding paper airplanes, named “The Vortex” or “The Hornet” from the “The World Record Paper Airplane Book.” (Written, incidentally, by a man who is the world record holder for flight duration of a paper aircraft: 18.8 seconds). They follow the instructions impeccably, discussing rudders and velocity like two WW2 vets slumped on a park bench. And then one night Rosie, auditioning for the role of snarkiest little sister, ripped “The Pterodactyl” with one swish of her pudgy little fingers. And the room got very, very quiet. And I gasped. And Dan yelled. And Col? This gentle, almost-five year old boy said “that’s okay Rosie, we can make another one.”
Col’s almost impossible to offend. The other day the kids were lolly-gagging in a supermarket bathroom and I snapped “Hurry up, we don’t want to be in here for five hours!” (I know you’re impressed with that warning). And Col, on the toilet, broke into a huge smile. “Oh no!” He laughed, “we definitely don’t want to be in the bathroom for five hours!”
I could also tell you about how a chorus of angels hits a high note when Rosie smiles. How just the sight of her soft two-year old body scamping about in two mismatched dress-up shoes, a satiny purple backpack sagging on her back, her clown butt poofing out under three pairs of pants and a purse swinging on each shoulder makes my heart pirouette and then trip over itself from the sheer enormity of my fondness for her. This girl! This wily, fierce girl surfacing in our house full of firetrucks and trains. Who is she? It’s like we’re still waiting for the full report at 6:00 PM. Dan says “she’s more like one of your relatives than anything that came from me.”
Someday I’ll have to wean myself from squeezing her plush bottom whenever it’s in my reach.
And the two of them together, so unexpectedly lovely. It’s like planting a dwarf pie pumpkin seed and having it grow into a prize winning orange globe. And projectile chips notwithstanding, they really are such buddies. Col often comes home from preschool with little books he made for Rose, her name scrawled backwards across the front. And other times he says “I totally thought about Rose at school, but I didn’t think about her hard enough to make her something.” “That’s fine honey,” I tell him, still stuck on that word “totally” he threw in back there. And Rose, carted around on five million errands while Col’s having a ball at preschool, spins the tower of cards at Rite Aid, points to the one with the 80 year old woman making some crass sex joke and says wistfully, “maybe Coley like this one.”
And God are they different. On a hike, Col climbs rocks, searches for arrowheads, collects and loses rocks, and is a happy streak of motion. Rose wants to be carried, whines at the scratchy seeds in her shoe and wonders why Dan and I are so excited about the oaks turning colors. “When dey yellow we can eat dem?” She asks.
One day at home Col asked for my help tacking up a drawing in his room. “Up high.” He requested, Rose on his heels. “So I can’t get it.” She helpfully explained.
Every day is a big, chunky stew, sometimes the carrots melt in my mouth, other times the onions are so raw, they make me cry; usually it’s a little of both. I think if you’re a parent you’re eating the same stew, choking on gristle and laughing at your good fortune.
What does your stew taste like today?