Twilight on James Avenue

Posted: September 23rd, 2007 | Author: | Filed under: Miss Kate | 1 Comment »

It’s 6:51PM on Sunday evening and here’s what’s happening.

Outside the James Avenue block party is in full swing. There’s a band playing some “oooh-eee baby” song, and a bunch of kids and parents across the street are making mondo bubbles. Kate and Mark are in the pink bathroom, as we call it, where Kate is holding court on the Big Girl Potty and Mark is running the bath water.

And here I am, in a peaceful moment with all the windows open and evening light casting a happy glow on the house. The house even seems to be in the afterglow of the day. Two red balloons from Kate’s birthday party divide the space between the living and dining rooms, and evidence of new gifts–dolls with bottles, books and CDs and a cool art easel are still in tote bags, hauled back from the lake where we had a picnic.

I’m in that in-the-moment frame of mind that I never seem to get to in yoga class where I’m enumerating the errands I need to run or letting work worries needle their way into my mind. Right now I’m right here, and life is good.

Today’s party for Kate turned out to be just the kind of party I wanted. Not too many friends–just some of Kate’s local chums and her cousins. And no excessive food or entertainment hoopla. Just a nice picnic in a lovely setting–complete with fried chicken, cole slaw, watermelon and chocolate cupcakes with strawberries on top. I think a 4-item menu is brilliant. Perhaps I’ll write an entertaining book based on the laws of four foods, and make a killing.

And tomorrow, little Miss Kate, long known as Baby Kate, turns two years old. And she continues to dazzle and delight us. My God, I adore her. She’s got her own ideas, her own agenda, and she walks around with her curly blond pigtails bouncing behind her just having herself a good old time. It’s infectious.

The other afternoon when I came home early from a conference Kate was hanging out with the nanny. Dismayed by all the branded party hats (Elmo, Nemo, Princess something or other) I’d bought some solid colored hats and pompoms, glitter pens, curly ribbon and foam stickers. We sat down and had a little craft party making silly colorful hats for today’s picnic. Kate was so delighted and engaged and sweet and luminous I turned to the nanny and said, “Look at her! How did you stand it?” To which she said, “I know! I can’t. I kiss her a hundred times a day”–which made me secure in the fact I wasn’t the only one who was under Kate’s spell. It’s good knowing if I’m not there to constantly adore Kate, there’s someone else who does.

In two years of parenting I’m not sure if I’m getting smarter or still feeling my way along–and I’d imagine that parents of teenagers and adults continue to wonder the same thing. I’ve recently had experiences that seemed to underscore both points.

The other day I realized what I needed to do was get duplicates of Kate’s favorite “loveys”–the stuffed puppy and duck she needs to tuck under each arm (dog on the right, duck on the left) at nap-time and nighttime in order to doze off feeling protected by her posse. Peggy had asked for birthday gift suggestions for for Kate and I called her thrilled to have an idea so wise and practical to proffer. (What a good mother I am!)

Later that night after Kate had been asleep for a few hours she suddenly started to bawl. Uncharacteristically, I’d just painted my nails so Mark went in to check on her and called out, “She threw up!” which put us both into turbo Silkwood shower mode–stripping both Kate and Mark down to shower, and me doing a toxic scrub on the crib and floor. Of course, the Essential Doggie and Duckie got, uh, violated in the episode, and I needed to toss them into the wash. So, a half hour later, squeaky clean and in new PJs with fresh bedding, I put our poor sickie back into her crib where there was a blatant lack of the Essential Doggie and Duckie. I’d found some other things that were dog and duck-like–a dog cum wizard hand puppet from Cousin Tikloh and a pink flamingo that was at least in the duck genus. Thankfully, it wasn’t that hard a sell to get her to accept these understudies, but I couldn’t help but think my brilliant Mom idea to have back-up loveys came a bit too late.

On the not-so-smart maternal moment, the other morning as we were all wrestling in bed Kate suddenly busted out “Don’t bug me!”, a line which amused Mark and I purely for it’s novelty, but also had us wondering where the heck she’d heard it in the first place. Mark and I looked at each other with innocent cow eyes–”I’ve never said that to her.” And even though the nanny is the other potential influencer (whose every word we obviously can’t monitor), we just couldn’t imagine her saying that to Kate either.

The next morning Mark mentioned Kate’s new expression to the nanny and she laughed and said, “I’ve heard her say that too and I don’t know where she got it!” That evening she said to me, “I asked Kate who says ‘Don’t bug me’ and she said Mommy.” I laughed it off as absurd. Oh, the things kids say!

But a few days later Mark had to reckon with me. “Uh, so I hate to tell you, but you did say that to Kate the other day.” I’d been trying to send an email for work or something and Kate was whining and demanding attention and, yes, shameful as it is to admit, I whined a bit back at Kate, “Come on, Kate. I need two minutes here. Please don’t bug me.”

The thing is, once Mark mentioned it, it seemed somewhat familiar that in my moment of utter frustration that was something that maybe I did say. Horrors! Twas I, the perpetrator!

Anyway, here we are the night before your second birthday my sweet angel Katie. I adore you more than words can say. I apologize for ever having requested you not “bug me,” and I’m sorry for all the other times when my words or actions haven’t been of the supreme maternal order. I’m just playing this whole mother thing by ear, but with the inspiration you provide it makes what could be a hard job the greatest joy I’ve ever had. I look forward to your first day of school, going with you to buy your first bra, and your father and I dropping you off at an ivy league college for which you’ve received a generous academic scholarship. I look forward to just putting a puzzle together with you tomorrow, or sitting on the kitchen floor and sharing a plastic bowl full of grapes.

You’re all tucked into bed now after having read some new birthday books with Dada, and even in your in-the-other-room-asleep mode, you still bring me joy and pride and a supreme sense of contentment the likes of which I’ve never felt, right though the walls. Thank you.

A million kisses to you dear Kate, and huge hugs with pat-pat-pats on the back. Your Mama loves you from here to the stars.

1 Comment »

One Comment on “Twilight on James Avenue”

  1. 1 Lori said at 10:37 am on September 25th, 2007:

    I highly recommend the back up lovey plan…a bit of advice though…I would suggest rotating them on a regular basis so the “wear” on them is the same. We have a back-up of Gavin’s lovey, but failed to do the aforementioned rotation. As a result, they no longer resemble one another to pull off a seamless switch. If it ever comes to it, I will have to pass off the new one as a cousin or brother to the old one. :)

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