Those Memories are Misty for a Reason

Motherhood — parenthood — in general is a wonderful adventure. For all the aggravation our children cause us, for the challenges they present, the opportunities for wonder, joy, and love are by and away larger, sweeter, and leave a longer lasting impression than the petty (and tough) daily grind.

Motherhood — parenthood — has moments of wonder, joy, and love that we parents will revisit over and over again. That we attempt to capture — in words, in pictures, in the stories we tell. That we look forward to revisiting as our children grow. “Remember the time,” we will say, and we will laugh.

And then there are the times and challenges that, really, we’d rather not revisit. Like, oh, I don’t know—the sleepless nights, the middle-of-the-night wakenings, not to feed and bond sleepily, but to soothe and comfort. Middle-of-the-night infant feedings and changes are different than the screaming 2-year-old that needs mommy and/or daddy immediately right now next to her in the dark.

Which is all a round about way of saying: we seem to be revisiting this issue with Bun again. We’ve been revisiting it every night for the past two weeks (since we got back from vacation) between 3 and 4 o’clock in the morning.

Sometimes I hear her crying, and I wait a bit. And she’ll drop back to sleep.

Most of the time, though she’ll get out of her bed, and I won’t hear her until she’s trying to climb into ours. If the gate is still up, she’ll scream until one of us stumbles to her door. “Up!” she’ll cry. “Up, up, mama!”

Thank goodness Monkey is a deep sleeper. Unfortunately, so is DearDR.

I ask if her ear hurts. “No,” she whimpers. She isn’t running a temperature. “Did you have a bad dream?” “Yeah,” she whispers, burrowing into my side, sharp elbows and knees digging in and hanging on. Sometimes, after she drops off again in our bed, she’ll thrash and cry out again.

Two weeks. I am seriously considering calling the pediatrician, but what are they going to tell me?

Wait it out, probably. Again.

Is there a way to prevent bad dreams?

Crushed

Due to our break-neck summer schedule so far, we haven’t taken many neighborhood strolls this year. Tuesday night finally found us in the thick of the neighborhood kids for the first time.

My neighborhood is pretty kid-friendly. The street below ours in a dead-end, so traffic is light, and certainly doesn’t travel very fast. Plus the sight line are really good. Kids ride their bikes or play kickball in the street with no worries.

There are about eight children (not counting Bun & Monkey) in the ‘hood, ranging in age from 3 to 12–14. Including Bun and Monkey, there are six girls and four boys. One of the boys was the love of Monkey’s life last summer, although her enthusiasm for his attention has waned somewhat.

Maybe.

Last night, after wrangling Bun out of someone’s yard (I really have to teach my kids about property lines), I wandered back to the group of kids. I am the only mom around, unless the 3-year-old ventures out (he has two older sisters, too; the mom is sweet, but holy cats she talks alotandveryfast); my kids are too young still to go around the neighborhood by themselves. I heard one of the boys say, “Monkey likes Chris*” in that sing-songy way that means someone is being teased. She broke away and walked toward me. Nothing else was said.

But there’s are some interesting dynamics in the group. And before I list this out, let me disclaim: none of this is sexual in nature at all.

Monkey has a crush on Chris (which does seems to have faded — she hasn’t mentioned his name once today), but Jimmy seems to be crushing on her (Monkey). Stevie has a crush on Malory, although Madison thinks he has a crush on her. Teresa loves making Bun laugh and playing with her (there’s a 3-year age difference). Malory is blithely her own person — and besides, she’s much more mature than any of the boys in question. Ashlyn is the oldest girl in the group, and you can see how she feels self conscious about hanging out with the “kids”, but has no one her own age around. She and Madison chat a lot, and Malory sometimes joins their group, and sometimes plays with the kids (Malory is 9, I think).

Also, although I feel awful saying this: I don’t like all these kids. Or, I like them all, but sometimes I think a couple of them act like real a-holes. Chris and Madison, who are brother and sister, can be real jerks, and not just toward each other. Chris rides his bike WAY too fast without regard for where the other kids are. When he gets yelled at (for example, by Ashlyn), he whines, “I said I’m sorry.” And Madison treats everyone kind of shabbily. It leads me to wonder what it’s like at home for them.

In general, though, it’s a good group. Last night, they all played together in Malory and Teresa’s backyard (they have a swing set, slide & sandbox), and it was nice to watch.

I’d like to get my hands on a backyard playset, come to that. I wouldn’t mind them all coming up to our yard. If anyone knows of one going second hand, let me know. Time to get on Craigslist!

*Formerly 7. Names have been changed because they are all very innocent.

Monday’s Adventure

I picked the girls up from day school. In the back of my car was a small backpack (or “pack-pack” as Bun calls it) full of toys. It’s a random collection of things that Monkey picked out for our recent grocery shopping trip. (None of which got played with at the grocery store, BTW.)

Bun pulled out her devil ducky, a present that DearDR brought back from his Seattle trip, and another, smaller ducky to play with on the 5-minute ride home.

All the car windows were open. That’s how we roll.

I don’t know exactly what happened, but suddenly Bun was crying about “the other ducky”. She still had her devil ducky, but other had suddenly gone missing.

I queried Monkey over Bun’s screams about the location of other ducky. I was hoping it was on the floor.

Nope. Bun had — whether on purpose or by accident — sent it flying out the window.

She was heartbroken. She cried and cried (and screamed) for other ducky. She clearly thought I was going to stop the car and rescue other ducky. I had no such intentions. If you’re going to throw something out the window — even by accident — you are going to lose it. Sorry.

Monkey did an amazing job of ignoring her sister (something we are actively teaching her) the rest of the ride home. And that took some doing because Bun was overwrought. I told her we would get another other ducky when we got home. She didn’t care.

Once at home, I let Monkey out of the car. She wandered over to Bella’s house, as is her wont; I went to get Bun and my stuff out of the car.

When I put Bun down after helping her climb (hitting, kicking, and screaming the whole time) out of her seat, she took off down the driveway. Devil ducky was still clutched in one hand, and she was still crying out for other ducky.

And, darn it all, she was going to go rescue that other ducky.

I chased her down our gravel driveway trying not to laugh. I mean, the thought of it — Bun running all the way back to where she dropped other ducky — was hysterical. But it was awfully frustrating that she was — yet again — running away from me.

I wrangled her into the house. I even handed her another other ducky — identical to the one she had lost out the window. I could tell she knew it wasn’t really other ducky, and she was deciding whether or not to continue to be upset. Eventually, as I readied dinner, her crying tapered off. She even picked out a third ducky to play with.

She had two more meltdowns that night, requiring time outs and “calm down” breathing (for both of us). I suspect short nap times at day school are to blame.

I’ll tell you though, if I come across other ducky on the way home any evening soon, I may just pull over and pick that poor sucker up.

Memory

I wish I had a better one.

I wish I could tell you all the stories of my grandmother’s life. Because they are great stories. How her parents met in Italy and traveled to the States. How she grew up in Erie. Her life with her brothers and sisters. Meeting my grandfather. Being the hatcheck girl at one of the Italian clubs. Her life as a wife and mother.

I know that my grandmother has told me all of these stories.

I wish I had listened better, or remembered more.

Because she can’t tell me those stories any more.

She doesn’t remember them. She can’t tell them to me.

Driving over to my mother’s house one night this weekend, she asked my mom, “Who’s watching your children?”

My mother said, “I don’t have children living at the house anymore, mom. Except for my husband.”

My grandmother laughed and laughed.

She does not seem to be sad. For that we are grateful. She has forgotten how to knit; she has forgotten how to play cards, except for King’s Corners, and she needs a lot of help to even play that. She can’t really read, because she can’t remember what she read. She can’t cook anymore.

Now that is a true tragedy, because as a pure Italian one generation removed from the Old Country, my grandmother knew how to cook. One thing I will never forget is her easy acceptance of my vegetarianism. She cooked for me before my mother deigned to. And she told me the stories of what she grew up eating.

“We never ate a lot of meat,” she would say. “Just once in a while.” Read: when the money was okay, we could have meat. Otherwise: peppers on Italian bread, polenta, tomato sauce, homemade pasta, pasta fagiole, ravioli with cheese… Oh, how she talked about food.

She was a baker, too, and no holiday or family wedding was complete without Grandma’s cookies: lady locks so flaky they melted in your mouth, pizzelles, Italian knots, biscotti, apricot-filled fold-overs — the list goes on and on. Thank goodness my mother has the recipes. I look forward to the day she passes them down to me.

Although I really should learn to bake first.

Today is my grandmother’s 90th birthday. We celebrated this weekend at my parents’ house. Most of my generation of grandchildren were there. She seemed confused, and got tired very quickly.

But when they brought out the cake, she smiled and clapped and sang along. And had a nice helping of cake and ice cream.

Happy Birthday, Grandma. I know you may not remember your day. But I always will.

I love you.

Your first grandchild (and your favorite!),
rpm