Archive for December, 2010|Monthly archive page

He’s very, very, VERY three

“You are so mean, Mommy, and I’m not going to be your friend, and I won’t share my guns with you, and I’m slamming THE DOOR!”

“Mommy, I love you. You’re my best friend.”

“I hate this, I can’t do it! My foot hurts and I’m too tired and I CAN’T put ON my BOOTS!”

“Mommy! You and Daddy are talking so nicely together! I’m so proud of you!”

“Waaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh….! I was going to get the phone! Waaaaaahhhhhhhh…..!!!”

“Look Momma! Kitty sniffed my finger and rubbed it! I was so quiet and gentle that she did that! Her fur is so soft and amazing!”

“Mommy! Cuddle! Hug! Mommy!”

“Waaaahhhhhhh…! You’re not my best friend, Mommy, and I am NOT TALKING to you!”

“No, Mommy, I am NOT doing a time-out, I am not ever doing any more time-outs EVER AGAIN. And I’m SLAMMING the door.”

(giggle) “Mommy!” (giggle) “Stop tickling me!” (giggle) “Stop (giggle) tickling me!” (giggle)

“Waaaaaahhhhhhhh….. I CAN’T stop crying! Waaaahhhhhh….. YES! IT IS SO SUCH A BIG DEAL! Waaaaahhhhhhhhh…..! It IS the end of the world! Waaaaaahhhhhh…. NO!!! I am NOT draMATIC!!!”

“Mommy, I love you. Sweet dreams. Don’t watch any shows with Daddy or eat any popcorn while I’m sleeping.”

“Mommy! It’s a beautiful day! It’s so beautiful, the sun is shining just for us!”

“Mommy, after nap will it be Sunday so that we can go to our friend’s house? When’s three days? But I WANT it to be Sunday today! Waaahhhhhhh…..”

“Mommy, you should go take a nap now, because you look tuckered out.”

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The ghosts of Christmas past, present and future

I’ve hit a low point this week – but the good news is that it’s all good old-fashioned ill health-related, rather than a mood problem. I’ve actually been quite jaunty about the whole thing! Except for the fact of how much it has truly wiped me out. I now know exactly what that phrase about feeling like a day-old kitten means.

I’ve been sick for a month. Just regular old colds and viruses – but they’ve been non-stop. And that is the problem. Through croup, strep and pink eye, my body developed a nasty deep cough, and the doctor says that I’ve coughed so much due to these multiple back-to-back illnesses that now my body is actually harming itself. My cough is tearing away the lining in my bronchial tubes, and my body has diverted its healing resources from addressing whatever latest viral assault to trying to repair constantly re-occurring damage. Oh, and breathing. Who knew breathing through narrowed and torn passages would be quite so hard? And thus, limp kitten.

I’ve had three days at home now, resting. Today, looking out my bedroom window, the view reminded me of when I was on bedrest during the last trimester of my pregnancy. I was shocked to realize that I’ve not had this much time to myself, in the house alone, since then. Oh, I’ve been sick since then (and how) – but even when I could take the time off, my son was sick at the same time. This time, no. Bonhomme’s had all of the viruses, of course (who else do I catch them from?) – but he’s gotten over them. Not so me.

So. It is in all this slowing down that I’ve come to realize – no, scratch that, I already knew. Not realize, but face the fact that I don’t know how to slow down. That is, I know how, I know what to do, I know what I should be doing – but I can’t. I pick up a book only to start listing all the e-mails I need to write. I go to the bathroom only to be appalled by the state of it and start wiping down the counter. I walk to my room to lie down only to sigh and pick up the laundry basket to do one more load. Seriously. In the midst of dizziness and exhaustion so bad it’s more accurately weakness, to the point that I am gasping for air – I still CAN’T slow down. Just stop. Sit still. Nap. Watch a movie. Get up for tea and the bathroom and come right back to the couch. I start wondering if there’s a class I can take that will teach me the skill to just. Stop. Surely there must be a book I could read? Quick, I should Google it before I forget!

And so. Sick. For a month. Ever-worsening. Tonight, I had to stop for a breath after every sentence while reading to Bonhomme. It was Harvey the Baker (and the Gardener, and the Painter) – they weren’t long sentences. I had to tell him to quit stalling and climb into bed because Mommy was getting dizzy. “What’s dizzy, Momma?” I had to tell him that my tickle hands were sleeping tonight. “Are your tickle hands sick too, Momma? Do they need some medicine?”

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Last year, we got hit with foot and mouth disease on Boxing Day. It was a memorable Christmas vacation. Oh, and Dearest was not yet walking then either, due to his many-fractured leg. Very memorable. This year is better, by far. Even with a compromised airway. OK, to be honest, I was still hoping for a slightly greater contrast to last year – but I’ll take it. Nothing beats the magic of a three-and-a-half-year-old trying to make sense of Christmas. “But Momma, why won’t Santa bring me a chainsaw? Why?”  And that, I think, is how I’m going to learn this whole slowing down thing. It starts with saying no to a chainsaw. No, this miraculous time is not compromised at all.

Merry Christmas. May its wonder be yours.

Turning Point

I was driving today, noticing the gently falling snow, the merging traffic, the hum of the tires when it dawned on me – I was smiling. Just sitting there quietly, going about my day with a smile on my face.

This is big news.
This hasn’t happened in a while.
A long while.

Maybe it’s the Christmas spirit come over me.
Maybe it’s that I’ve actually gotten a few things done at work this week, thereby feeling useful.
Maybe it’s that we’ve had a major breakthrough and there seems to be purpose to the work that I’ve been doing for a year – hope that while we’re fighting a rearguard action, the battle is not guaranteed to be lost.
Maybe it’s that my opinion has been sought, and respected, more than once.
Maybe it’s that I’m reading a silly novel, one that has nothing to do with world politics or economics or literature or anything real-life at all.
Maybe it’s that some medical tests I’ve been dreading are over and done with, and I’m none the worse for wear.
Maybe it’s that I’m gaining confidence in my writing. When my Dad read my first draft of my contribution to my Grandpapa’s funeral, he told me I shouldn’t change a word. He’d adapt his draft eulogy instead. It may just be that my creativity had been channeled into a form that my Dad could actually identify with, for once, but regardless – it was once-in-a-lifetime praise.
Maybe it’s just a very slightly more biddable boy at home, one who is slowly learning that negotiation is in fact more effective than tantrums.
Maybe it’s that Dearest and I finally cleared the air that’s been fouled for months, and we’re coming up with some simple solutions to problems that have gotten unnecessarily out of hand. We’ve bought new couches and are rearranging the living-room to reduce the clutter. We’re going to carve out a reading corner, complete with a fabulous new chaise for me in the spare room – a room with a door that I can close – so I will no longer have to leave the house to get some (very temporary) peace and quiet. We’ve cuddled since the showdown. For more than ten seconds. More than once.
Maybe it’s that the adult version of croup I’ve been hacking my way through is fading.
Maybe it’s Grandpapa humming in my ear, doing his silly dance in the corner of my eye.

It’s still freaking cold outside.
There is still no end to work, and chores, and to-dos.
But my walk had more stride than trudge to it today, my laugh had more chuckle than gasp.
I caught myself smiling.
Quelle surprise.

In Loving Memory

We had some trouble with Grandpapa’s tie. There was a lot of looking to find his ties, given that he didn’t wear them every day. I was asked to choose some ties from my Dad’s closet to bring, just in case.
Whichever one we chose, it would be the last tie he would ever wear.
He lies in his casket, missing the one thing that made him himself – his smile.
Son sourire était vraimant spéciale.
I stood in my Dad’s kitchen, after going through my Dad’s closet, and gazed out at the field, the trees, the birdfeeder. Grandpapa would have liked the view. He would have sat at the table, a cup of hot orange pekoe tea steaming at his elbow, and watched the birds, a gentle half-smile on his face. He wouldn’t have said a word – just watched, sipped, smiled.
Completely content.
Tout à fait heureux.
He was a man easily content.
Il était bien dans sa peau.
Always curious.
Il cherchait à savoir – sa curiosité lui définissait.
Quiet.
Il ne parlait pas beaucoup.
With that smile.
Un sourire sur ses lèvres.
He was a man who knew himself.
Il se connaissait.
We didn’t know which tie to choose. It had to be practical, but fun. A little daring. Of course, it had to look good, Grandmaman would have to approve.
Grandmaman avait le dernier mot.
He used to make his own ties, out of leftover material from Grandmaman’s sewing. So that he could match her. Or maybe just for fun. Just because he could. It probably started because he was curious how they were made, or curious about how a sewing machine worked, or curious to see how outlandish a tie Grandmaman would let him get away with wearing.
He loved to try new things.
Les nouveautés l’intriguait. Il aimait toujours apprendre des nouvelles choses – surtout les essayer.
Especially to make others try new things with him.
My Dad tasted his first Austrian sausage, and European beer, at Expo 67 with his Dad.
That summer, Grandpapa couldn’t get enough of Expo 67. He had a season’s pass, and went as often as he could. To visit. To explore. To see.
Visiter pour lui impliquait tout. Il voulait tout voir, tout faire.
He would hear some music coming from somewhere, and had to go find it. No matter how far it was. No matter who was with him. No matter how long he had to drag them along behind him. If there was music, he was on his way.
La musique était centrale dans sa vie – surtout avec la danse!
Expo 67 enchanted him. So much to see, to hear, to taste!
He’d try anything.
But he didn’t like lasagna, or spaghetti. But head cheese, ris de veau, cretons, blue cheese? Oh, that was good. Kidney stew. Anything that could smell up the kitchen. Tongue. Oysters, pickled eggs. Pickled onions, pickles. But not just anything pickled – just the unusual stuff. He was gourmet. He’d bring home things like rabbit and brains from the store for Grandmaman to cook. Didn’t matter whether she knew how to cook it! It looked interesting, so he wanted to try it.
Lorsque je sens la senteur forte du fromage bleu, ça me fait toujours penser à Grandpapa.
So what tie would suit him? How could you possibly sum up this man, all that he is – was – in a tie? You can’t.
He would need a tie though. He wouldn’t want to look less than his best. Presentable. But without too much fuss.
He didn’t like fuss.
He liked peace.
Il était tranquil – il appréciait la tranquilité.
He loved family.
Ah! La famille.
His children, his grandchildren, his greatgandchildren. All kids, all babies. The children always came first with him.
He always wanted people to feel welcome, loved.
Un accueil chaleureux – c’était important.
He grew roses in the garden for Grandmaman, a special corner just for her.
He took the kids on special outings, just him and them – everywhere. Anywhere.
He loved company.
He especially loved to have company to go to his favourite spots with him. To have a smoked-meat sandwich with. To take the boat across to Vieux Montreal with. To go see the flowers growing along the sidewalk. Just because they were there. Because they made him smile.
Il aimait aller visiter des nouvelles places avec quelqu’un – pour partager l’expérience.
He was quiet, yes. He was a man that it made you happy just to be with. To sit, and have a cup of tea, and watch the birds with. A man who loved to share a good view.
Today, he’s not wearing his smile. He’s just wearing a tie.
Grandpapa, époux, Papa, frère, Dad, mononcle, cousin, Greatgrandpa, ami –
Thank you for finding the music.
Merci pour les sourires, et les caresses.
Thank you for painting what you saw, so that we could see it too.
Merci pour ton amour.
Thank you for visiting.
Merci d’avoir partagé ta vie avec nous.

On the way to the movie rental store…

“So, Daddy. I have something I’d like to say.”
“Oh yeah, Buddy, what’s that?”
“It’s very important.”
“Mmhmm.”
“When you’re driving, you have to drive the car very carefully. So, I’m gonna help you.”
“How’s that?”
“I’ve got some instructions for you. Tip one: Don’t crash into other cars.”
“Oh thanks, that’s very helpful.”
“Yes. Tip two: Don’t hit the lights.”
“Yes, keep going.”
“Tip three: Don’t hit the houses. That’s very bad.”
“Okay, I’ll keep that in mind.”
“There’s more. Tip four: Don’t hit the pizza shop. Because we need the pizza.”
“We do?”
“Yes, for dinner! You know that!”
“Oh yeah, sorry, I forgot. Okay, no hitting pizza stores.”
“And finally, tip number five: don’t hit any – don’t ever crash into – any… ANY – giant… couches!”
“Giant couches?”
“Um, yeah. Yes. Giant couches. No crashing into them. Make sure you drive safely, and no hitting any couches.”
“Gotcha. Thanks, Bud.”
“You’re welcome!”