Oceans Apart

Posted: June 4th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Friends and Strangers, Kate's Friends, Miss Kate | 4 Comments »

I collect friends named Kristen. (With the ‘e-n’ not ‘i-n’ spelling, of course.)

I know it sounds narcissistic, and I’m sure in part it’s just a generational thing. I mean, I don’t have any friends named Agnes or Gertrude.

Actually, check that. None named Gertrude.

Anyway, it’s not like I set out to have nine or so Kristen friends. It’s just that I met these women in the course of life, as one does, and for some reason I’ve tended to develop freakily fast close bonds with most of them. And so now, at any party or ho-down I throw, I make the inevitable, goofy “Kristen, meet Kristen” introduction. Though, blessedly, at this point most of my Kristens know each other.

One of my Kristens who I utterly adore (despite her abandoning me to move to the Land of Potatoes), started going by the name Ruby at a small agency we worked at, on accounta I was there first. I swear I didn’t threaten her in the parking lot to make her do this! In fact, for a long time I’d no idea she didn’t rock the name Ruby before we worked together. I mean, how can you not love someone who’s willing to do that? (And could she have picked a cuter nickname? No!)

But, that’s how we Kristens are. We look out for each other. It’s just like that with us.

Anyway, another Kristen friend who goes by the street name Ingrid (for reasons unrelated to me), also moved—at least for now—to New York. (Sniff!) Anyway, she and I have taken a staggered approach to our baby birthing. Unintentionally, of course. So whenever one of us is freshly preg-o, the other is inevitably tending to a newborn, and so on.

When Ingrid visited here last, her son Ocean was around 18 months or so. Kate, a year older. That age spread is prime for Kate’s social tyranny. She loves nothing more than a younger person whom she can tilt her head towards while explaining, “These are cherries, Ocean. CHEH-reeeeeez. They are yummy to eat!” Kate goes into what I call her Hostess Mode and introduces everyday objects in our house to younger children. As if the kid had been living under a rock until having the good fortune to encounter Kate and her more mature, hard-won life wisdom.

Sad as it is to admit, Kate and Ocean have only met each other a handful of times. But in that terrifying way that three-year-olds remember things (“We know another Jane too, Mama! Remember that lady who was buying broccoli at Safeway that time?”), Kate has fond memories of her last long-ago afternoon with Ocean.

In the car this weekend, prompted by nothing I could discern, Kate started talking about Ocean and asking when he’s going to visit next. She became fixated on the idea of seeing him, and from most of the drive from Burlingame to Oakland—miles and worlds apart—she outlined her plans for their next encounter.

So I started to jot them down on my phone. You know, capturing her social agenda like a good Mommy Secretary.

“Ocean can sleep with Dottie.”

“He can sleep in my bed if he takes a plane to see me.”

“If we want to color in the night, I’ll get you up and ask you to get Crayons and paper.”

“If he wants me to read to him in the night, I’ll turn on the light and he’ll pick out a book.”

“I’ll make paper airplanes and helicopters for him. And boats!”

“Do we have a car seat for him?”

“He’ll sit next to me at dinnertime.”

“We can introduce him to Jonah.”

“I have a little knife. It’s wooden and he can put his hand under my hand and I can help him cut.”

“I’ll teach him how to do dance class and puzzles.”

“If he doesn’t like shell macaroni—if he doesn’t want one of my big spoons he can use one of Paige’s spoons.”

“He needs to help me make my [mud] soup. I’ll show him what roses I need and he can just break them and sprinkle them in the bowl.”

[Noticing I was typing what she was saying] “That’s my list. That’s what I want to do with him.”

[A final thought] “I wanna give him a card for him coming over here.”

When my mother-in-law visits, at the end of the day if the kids seem tired, she’ll often say, “Well, we had a big day today.” Prompting Mark to remark that every day is a big day for me.

What can I say? I like to keep busy. Plus, I don’t believe in relaxing.

Clearly, Miss Kate takes after her Mama.

Alas, Ingrid has a newborn (and no, I’m not pregnant), so I’m not sure when she’ll be in Cali next. But when we do see her and her clan, I hope for his sake that Ocean’s well rested. Kate’s got a hell of an agenda planned for them.


4 Comments on “Oceans Apart”

  1. 1 tzed said at 4:28 pm on June 4th, 2009:

    Kids are awesome, and it’s awesome that you notice it, and encourage their awesomeness.
    It’s not awesome that so many kids are made to be not awesome by parents who forget that their own inability to be awesome is no reason to quash the awesomeness of their kids.
    Just sayin’

  2. 2 Kristen Ratan said at 7:41 pm on June 4th, 2009:

    Well there are always other Kristens in your life with other babies who will follow Kate adoringly to compensate for Ingrid’s long, sad absence…
    Yet another Kristen

  3. 3 Matt said at 11:00 am on June 5th, 2009:

    sounds narcissistic? sheesh…:)

  4. 4 Mary said at 9:00 pm on June 9th, 2009:

    “Kate’s social tyranny” hahahaha

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