I am sitting at Starbucks this evening for my weekly night of “escape”. Mostly, I enter our receipts into and analyze our budget, and if I’m lucky, have some time to blog or look at my planner, and generally zone into whatever realm I choose, none of which ever includes “Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama…” One might also call this my night of mental health.
This night, I’m more than glad to be here. The “escape” was welcome. Our poor little Emet is cutting 4 molars at once, and in addition to the pain he is no doubt feeling from the teeth, he has had a fever, a constantly runny nose (and rear end), and the general fussiness of teething. To my simultaneous chagrin and delight, often times “only Mama will do”. Papa is a second best, but often when he sees me, he reaches out, face wrinkled in frustration and tears and wants his Mama. This has been going on for almost a week now. I remember only a day or two with Caleb where he was in near constant need of being held and catered to by Mama. My favorite part of Emet needing me is how he nuzzles his little head against me. If someone talks to him when he is in my arms, he tilts his head towards my chest and looks at them from the protection of Mama. He toddles up to me and holds his little arms up, with his characteristic “Mmmm, Mmmmm, Mmmmm” (He does this for just about anything he is wanting, from more food, more to drink, some of what you are having, wanting to be picked up, get out of the high chair, etc. He is definitely not yet doing the signs for “more”, “all finished”, “milk”, “drink”, “eat”, “hurt”, “get out”, “please”, and “thank you”. We are looking forward to that stage and moving beyond the “Mmms”! ) Emet is definitely coming up with a few words, though they are still difficult to understand, and probably near impossible for anyone else outside of Jason, Caleb, or I. We think he is saying “Grey-ah” (Greta), and possibly “Grandma” (can’t remember how it sounded – but it was very probably Grandma – hasn’t said it since). “Doon” (Down) still means up and down. “Dat” (That), which he uses to ask about something when we are reading through books – an item he is learning to bring us more and more often. He has discovered sitting on Mama’s lap, and as soon as I sit down on the ground, frequently in front of the woodstove, he immediately goes over to the bookshelf, pulls off a book (often from the very bottom of a stack), and toddles it over to me – turning around and moving towards me awkwardly in order to land on my lap, which I still help him to do. When Caleb is around, both boys sit on my lap at once. Emet is getting more and more patient with books. We can now read through several pages without him trying to rip it from our hands and shove it aside. More often, he is beginning to point to things on the pages and say, “Dat.”
Caleb is so full of being 3 these days. He surprises me each and every day with his ever expanding horizon of understanding. Caleb has made a new little friend in the nursery on Wednesday, when I go to my women’s Bible study. His name is Blake. Now, Caleb has interacted with several little boys and girls – sons and daughters and our friends, and others in the nursery. I have always thought Caleb a little different from the other children. I’m not sure if it is that I am his mother….or if it is that he doesn’t watch television….or he is not in day care….or whatever else it could be. As rambunctious and “all boy” as he seems to be, he has a tender little spirit. For instance, when leaving a Christmas party, he tried to say goodbye to the other children, and give one of the kids a hug goodbye. He was looked at with oddity, and shoved away by the kid who he tried to hug. Where are the manners? And where is the love, I’m wondering? What are people teaching / not teaching their children? In any case, a few weeks back, when I went to pick Caleb up from the nursery, the nursery worker told me that Caleb had made a new friend and they played and interacted very well together. From the first time I met Blake – just that day – I could tell that indeed, he was very much like Caleb. When they went to say goodbye to each other , they both reached out to give each other a hug, then politely but excitedly said, “Goodbye, Blake”, and “Goodbye, Caleb”…..”See you next time.” I was thrilled. From that day on, Caleb has asked frequently about Blake, gets excited each week to go see him, and mentions missing him throughout the week. Blake seems equally anxious to see Caleb. I haven’t yet met his mother as his Aunt is the one that brings him to Bible study, and she doesn’t attend that church – only the Women’s Bible study there. I’m not sure how you approach getting together in a situation like that – but perhaps over time I can figure it out for Caleb’s sake.
Our neighbor’s barn caught on fire today. It is about 30 feet away from our furthest outbuilding, which then proceed to cascade like dominos towards our house. I called 9-1-1 after a passerby stopped to tell us our barn was on fire. (Everyone thinks it is our barn due to its proximity to our house. We wish it were, as it and the land its on would make our home much more valuable!) In any case, the fire department came out, and the truck parked at our house. Caleb watched with excitement from our sliding glass door – watching them get into their gear, get the hoses out, and go into the black smoke. After the fire was put out, he and I went outside to watch them and look at the fire truck, he , clad in his yellow, black, and red fireman’s raincoat and rain boots. He waved at the firemen, and one of them, Joe, asked him if he would like a helmet and some stickers. Of course, he did. He also got to get inside the fire truck and look around, which he did bravely, if a bit shyly. After they left, however, he wanted his new fire helmet on several times. When I asked him to go out to the outbuilding to get out Greta, he wanted to put on his Fire coat and Helmet, “so that Greta will be safe”, he said.
Today, Caleb was snuggled next to me on our leather chair reading stories before naptime. He reached his little arm around me from behind and said, “I love you Mama. You’re the sweetestest Mama.” That made my day, and likely many, many days to come. In fact, this may be one of those moments I remember long after my children have left home and have children of their own. It may well make my day then, too.