Sunday, February 22, 2015


 Cold and bright today.  Wool sweaters.  Car panting in the driveway for long minutes before we could climb inside.  Sunlight banking off the frozen slugs of ice still clinging to portions of the sidewalk, the street.  It's Lent and today is the day when Jesus gets baptized and then tempted in the desert.  Because it's winter the temptations we face don't seem deeply interesting: zoning out in front of the computer, pouring a highly unnecessary extra glass of wine, circling too anxiously around ourselves (our own fates, our own jobs, our own book sales, our own pale and flaking reflections in the mirror).  Not interesting, but problematic nonetheless.

When I left the house you were screaming.  You pooped yourself awake after sleeping for about half an hour and refused to lean back into the arms of slumber.  You've grown up a lot in the two months since I last wrote.  We've been to Holden and back and you've slept in the rocking car of a train and in a (relatively) unmoving glaciated valley.  You now say tons of words: bus and cracker and milk and water and truck and baby and book and nana and buh-buh-wee and flower and piano and bye-bye and hi and hat and...on and on.  You insist on calling Daddy "Ga-Ga" although the fact that you call Thisbe "Di-dee" affirms that you can, in fact, make the "d" sound.

Di-dee, books, baths, and vacuums are a few of your favorite things.  You're content paging through books for endless amounts of time; you patter around in search of where Di-dee has hidden herself; you squeal and hop from foot to foot when the vacuum roars to life; you would spend your life in the bathtub if you could.

You played by yourself quite well yesterday, puttering through the room with a block or a spatula or your stuffed kitty while Daddy and I talked to the Holden students over cinnamon rolls and Cougar Gold cheese and coffee--or later when we ate pizza and drank wine with old friends.  The workers in the toddler room describe you as "chill." 

And your sister has changed too.  She is more amenable, less vitriolic.  Fewer tantrums, fewer accidents, no constipation issues.  Holden was tough but I think being in a new environment, around older kiddos, helped her become a better self. 

Yesterday I watched you and your sister in the bath, both of you crowded beneath the running faucet.  Thisbe's body is now skin stretched over bones that threaten to poke through that surface for air.  Her shoulder blades and collar bone look like sheathed weapons.  You are still all pudge: rolls at your belly, under your chin, bubbles of pudge where your arms meet your armpits.  Thisbe was holding a yellow plastic bowl and feeding you water with a silver spoon.  You kept bending forward to accept the spoonful and then leaning back and touching your index fingers together to signal "more, more."  The water had darkened your hair and her hair and your eyes looked unbelievably huge, your lashes tremendously heavy. 

Sometimes my temptation is to look away when things are going well.  When you're puttering quietly or Thisbe is doing a puzzle, when you're both actually playing together away from me without screaming or needing.  For me that moment is a temptation to shift my focus.  Given the opportunity to relax for 30 seconds, I usually start cutting zucchini or checking Facebook or asking Daddy a question about who is going to write the check for March release days.  I mostly interpret your moments of contentment as permission to look away rather than looking more deeply toward.  And sometimes, God help us, looking away and reading an Onion article is absolutely necessary.  But I think sometimes my venting about the two of you comes from the fact that I choose to look away from the moments that would bring me the most joy.

So I think my Lenten discipline will be to try not to look away.  So seek out a view of you both in those moments of peace, of calm, of discovery, of cooperation, of silly and exuberant joy.