The in-flight entertainment bag with special toys, colored markers and other distractions is prepared.
The gifts have been made and packed (dark chocolate ginger cookies for Mark and Fiona, two Summer dresses for Frances, and a handmade pencil case stuffed with colouring pencils and marbles for Ali.)
Tomorrow Rose and I go on our very first trip away together. And I’m getting excited! We’re going to Melbourne to stay with my brother and sister-in-law, and Rose’s cousins Ali and Frances. We’ve been talking about it with Rose for a few weeks. She processes and repeats back the salient points (“We go to the airport, we catch a plane, it goes up, up, up! It comes down in Melbourne”) but she occasionally gets confused about some of the finer details (“Cousin Fiona!” “No, Rose, it’s Auntie Fiona”), and she’s especially confused about days and timelines (“We go to Melbourne today!” “No Rose, we’re going next week”). I’m also pretty sure she hasn’t quite grasped the fact that we will be staying there and that Daddy isn’t coming with us. But confusion aside, Rose is going to have a blast.
Nevertheless there is a sensitive little ache in my chest region when I think about leaving Tess and Chris behind for five days. But I’m brushing it aside, knowing it’ll be painful and sad, but it’ll also be a wonderful experience for Rose and myself.
One of the things I like best about being a parent is witnessing moments of poignant sweetness. To other people they would probably be insignificant, but because you actually gave birth to these kids they are wonderful.
Today at the park Rose met a little girl called Kiwa. They had great fun going down the slide together and racing each other around. I knew Rose was enjoying herself thoroughly, and not just because she kept saying, “Having Fun!” The moment of poignancy came about half way through the play date when Rose forgot Kiwa’s name. She started calling her “Digger”. After a couple of times hearing Rose call Kiwa “Digger” I whispered in her ear, “the little girl is called ‘Kiwa’”, and Rose got back on track with no fluster at all.
For the first 18 months of her life Rose was all about physical development. Learning to roll, sit up, reach and grab, crawl, walk, and so on. It’s a great time of physical discovery and it’s so pleasurable to measure the milestones.
But pretty much since she was 18 months, since she started learning and using words really, Rose’s exploration has all been about feelings. What is it like to say “No!” Or feel jealousy? Or anger? Or fear? Or huge unbounding love? And the feelings stuff is so much more complicated that the physical stuff for Mum and Dad!
In the last few weeks Rose has been learning all about anxiety. Bedtimes got a bit more tricky with her making more and more complex requests at bedtime. Lots of endless requests for “drink of water”, and “Mummy put the duvet on?” She’s also been wanting to take odd objects to bed with her. The last week she’s been wanting to take one of Tess’s teething rings to bed (she calls it, “Rose’s dummy”). For a few nights she’s wanted us to elaborately wrap it in a tissue and place it on her pillow next to her bed. Then last night she threw it away and said, “I DON’T LIKE Rose’s dummy!” and threw it to the other side of the room. Chris and I have been having a lot of conversations about how many times will we go in to give her a drink of water and what kinds of objects can she take to bed with her. (The answer is two drinks of water, and whatever she likes as long as it’s not dangerous or impractical).
The old-fashioned parenting view is that Rose is testing us to see what she can get away with. We prefer to see her as a little scientist, testing out the world. She’s also, clearly, learning to manage her anxiety. A bit more on that.
She’s become rather concerned about insects lately. She keeps saying, “Rosie doesn’t like flies”. I’ve taught her to brush them away and say, “Go away flies!” We’ve had quite a few conversations about how flies are annoying, but can’t hurt us. Yesterday she said to me, “Maybe flies go into eyes?” It’s fantastic when she can actually name her fears because it means we get to talk about them in a concrete way.
Then on Sunday at the park an ant crawled onto her foot and she totally freaked out. She screamed and cried! The rest of the day she kept thinking that ants were on her and tried to brush away imaginary ants. It was a bit overwhelming. She wanted to be carried everywhere. She kept jerking about, startled. Fortunately her worry about the ants was completely gone by the morning. But at the time Rose was very overwhelmed by her anxiety and didn’t have a way of understanding them. It’s such a big scary world of emotions!
Tess started clapping a few days ago! I’m pleased as punch because surely clapping is one of the more delightful things a person can do. Rose loves that her sister can clap, tries to entice her to do more by clapping in front of her.
Here’s a little video. Sorry for the strange camera angle, every time I lifted the camera up Tess stopped clapping!
Rose’s day care asked us to create a “family page” to be added to the center’s family book. They asked for lots of photos and a description of things that the family likes to do.
Is that up my alley or what?
Here’s what I created. You can click on the image to get the full screen version (also note that the original had our family name up the top, I’ve removed it for stalker-avoidance reasons):
Family page for day care
It’s not the only thing I’ve created recently. I made Rose a beautiful party dress (my first dressmaking foray in years) and I started making a summer dress for my niece Frances. I surprised myself by remembering all about interfacing, basting, and seam finishes. My 20-year-old sewing machine surprised me by refusing to do anything but a straight stitch. No zig zag or anything. I haven’t added ‘new sewing machine’ to my birthday list because I think I better wait and see if this new-found enthusiasm translates into a more sustained enjoyment than many of my endeavours. (I have been known to suffer from ‘this month’s thrill’ism.) But you may not be surprised that I’ve bought enough new fabric for another four projects. Oh, the constant juggle of ‘this month’s thrill’-ism versus sensible restraint!
I’ve also been cooking wild and elaborate meals. I’m in the grip of a powerful love for Mark Bittman, and am working my way through his “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian“. There hasn’t been a recipe miss-step so far. The depth of flavours! The best pumpkin soup on the planet. Tonight I’m cooking corn-stuffed peppers with spicy tomato sauce. However, I’ve also been hearing a lot of “Don’t like quinoa!” and “Don’t like pumpkins!” from a certain small-but-talking member of the family.
Tess turned 10 months old yesterday. I can’t believe it! She’ll be one before we know it! Tess celebrated her 10 month birthday in appropriate fashion by getting her first teeth. Yep, yesterday morning I put my finger in her mouth and where there was once gummy gums there are now two razor shart incisors poking through. I was actually starting to think it was really weird that she hadn’t got any teeth yet (Rose’s first tooth came through when she was 7 months), but Tess was a little bit premie and well, it turns out that while it’s perfectly natural to compare, it’s not always a good idea to.
Tess is an absolutely delightful little girl. She has the sweetest temperament. She’s hardly ever cranky, even when she’s being patched or prodded by a doctor. She loves to laugh, she loves to bounce up and down on our laps, and she watches everything her big sister does. We love her to bits.
A few weeks ago we had an appointment with the director of the day care centre that Rose goes to. We were there mainly to discuss whether they could accommodate Tess’s special needs when she starts there in January. At the end of the discussion Mary-Anne talked about Rose. She said that Rose is very well-behaved, is kind to the other children, patient when waiting for things. She never throws tantrums. She said, “She’s our little angel!”
Most of this wasn’t a surprise to Chris and I. Of course we know that she is sweet, lovely, and well-socialised. But no temper tantrums? I guess she’s saving them up for home! Mary-Anne said that this is very normal. Some kids feel safest at home and only test the boundaries with their families. Great! But actually, I’m really very proud. Proud that Rose is doing so well at day care.
Her language is really developing along at great speeds these days. She says, “shall” a lot now (as in, “Shall we have a snack?”) She’s started saying “I do” as a replacement for a simple “yes” (as in “Do you want to go on the swings today?”). The other day she said, “Cous cous feels nice in my mouth”, which I thought was a very interesting thing to say. Today she asked, “Is it an ice-cream day today?” when we left the house. The other funny thing she said recently was in response to Chris saying, “Why did I do that?” Rose said, “Silly Daddy!”