Month: August 2015

“Why did grandma say uh uh uh. Why did she not say no?”

“I think grandma was at a loss for words. She saw something happening and she didn’t have the words to say what she wanted to in the moment, so she used sounds instead.”


“Sweets, are you suggesting some words that grandma could have used before?”


“H, you are shouting. What is your shout saying?”


“Sweets, why are you shouting?”

“I was made to.”

“You were made to? Who made you do that?”

“You did.”

“I did?”

“Yeah. You did and papi did. You gave an egg and papi gave a sperm.”

(Stunned silence.)

H has had questions about bees recently:

Where are their stings?
Why do they want to eat my dinner?

We went to the library to see if we could find the answers in the pages of some books. Alas not, but we’ve enjoyed reading:

The Best Beekeeper of Lalibela by Cristina Kessler, illustrated by Leonard Jenkins

These Bees Count! by Alison Formento, illustrated by Sarah Snow

The Beeman by Laurie Krebs, illustrated by Valeria Cis

In the Trees, Honey Bees by Lori Mortensen, illustrated by Cris Arbo

“Would you like some milk?” H asks me.

“Sure,” I tell him.

“My nipples are very small and your mouth is big that means they can’t fit together. I will get you water instead.”

H is nursing and twiddling the other nipple.

“It hurts mama when you touch my nipple like that, love,” I tell him. I’m serious, but I decide to be light and playful about it, making a game of chasing his hand away from my breast as he deftly outmaneuvers me. It is fun and we laugh, but my expression must betray the discomfort I feel. Nipple twiddling hurts.

He stops parrying and searches my face. “Are you sad?”

“Yes.” I tell him. I am not sad exactly, but I do not like the nipple twiddling.

“Oftentimes I help you, but oftentimes I don’t. I let the sad feelings go out themselves,” he coaches.

“You let the sad feelings go out of my body on their own all by themselves?”

“Yeah. Sometimes it takes a little and sometimes it takes a long time. And then you aren’t sad anymore.”

He nestles back down and peacefully returns to nursing. There is no more twiddling, and whatever feelings I had been having do, indeed, leave my body all by themselves.

“I am going to Seattle, because I have friends in Seattle I want to say hi to. I’ll be right back.”

He loops around the outside of the enclosed play area at the outdoor mall near our house.

“Oh, I forgot to say hi to friends in Seattle,” he informs me upon his return. “I’ll be right back.”

He loops around again at a slow, purposeful trot.

“I’m done with Seattle,“ he announces when he is back, and then, “Oh, I forgot to say hi to friends in Seattle.”

He repeats this trip around the play area, saying hi and forgetting to say hi and being done, again and again until at last the journey is complete.

I am ferrying cupfuls of water from the cabana kitchen to H, who sits with his feet in the jacuzzi. He pours the contents of the delivered cups into the churning water with deliberate slowness, and then jerks his arm with a flourish so that the remaining water arcs through the air before falling like rain.

“More, more,” he implores, handing me the cup. I return to the kitchen, making silly faces at him as I pass the observation window in the hallway. His mouth moves, but the words hit the glass pane between us and fall silent on the floor.

I pop my head back through the door of the jacuzzi room. “What did you say, sweets?”

“Hard to wait,” he says, his tone and volume conversational. He sits calmly, swinging his legs, looking at me expectantly.

Hard to wait. I hear those words, and suddenly H is two again. He is in the living room, frantically pulling at the mesh fireplace curtain, having a hard time waiting for milk. He wants it now, right now, and I am in the kitchen in the middle of a task. Waiting even a second is a challenge, and the frustration of it careers through his body and out the tiny but strong fists jangling the metal curtain, the sound of which I imagine matches the feelings bouncing around his insides.

I am struck by the contrast between H at two and H at three. He is having a hard time now just as he was then, but I would not have known it except for his report. His calm, composed behavior hints at qualities – an emotional self-awareness and nascent ability to choose his reactions – that he did not possess as strongly a year ago. How satisfying it is to watch H’s growth unfold as it has, organically and in its own time. He hasn’t been on his own – I have modeled and coached –  but there’s been no schedule we’ve adhered to, no calendar that pushes him to learn politeness by this date, how to use the toilet by that. And how reassuring, too, it is to come upon these moments. When there is no road map, no formula to follow, no step-by-step instruction manual that will ensure that this child will grow to be a kind, compassionate, fulfilled adult, these moments can feel like guideposts: You are headed in the right direction. You may not be able to see or feel it always, but you are. Keep going.

The path is not linear, the things he learns to do and to be shift in and out of focus as he finds his footing. Sometimes he uses a new tool ably, unleashes a new skill as if he’d been doing it all his life, and sometimes his efforts fall short and it can appear as if nothing had been learned, no gains had been made at all. And this – him learning to sit with the discomfort of his feelings and knowing that he can choose, if at all, how to act on them – is a huge, lifelong project for most of us. I anticipate that there will be plenty of times still that H lets me know vocally and intensely how hard it is to wait – he is three, after all – but he is working on it. And he is blossoming.

“Yes, hard to wait,” I tell him with a smile. “I feel that way, too, sometimes.” And I go to fetch another cup of water.