Archive for February, 2011

Noticing, wondering

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

1. The baby woke up screaming one night, about a week ago. She kept trying to nurse, but then arching and screaming – whatever was going on was hurting her too much for her to find comfort in nursing. The arching made it seem like her tummy hurt, but I couldn’t think of anything weird that she (or I) had eaten that day. We jiggled her and cuddled her and fretted for several minutes, which of course feels like an hour when your baby is screaming in pain. Then Tilt figured he’d change her diaper, just in case. I lay there worrying and listening to her screams – and then the screams subsided to sobs, to sniffles – to silence. He brought her back to bed in a dry diaper and almost asleep again already. Apparently she just has some sore spots on her bum that were stinging in her wet diaper. I lay there in the dark and said Thank you, thank you, thank you God for solvable problems. That my baby screaming in the night just has a sore bum, and nothing that’s going to require an army of specialists, nothing that’s going to tear our hearts out. Thank you thank you thank you for healthy children.

2. I ate lunch with the sisters at our local ecumenized Benedictine monastery the other day. It was a remarkable experience. The cook set out exactly enough food for the five of us – five smallish tuna melt sandwiches, a smallish bowl of soup for us to ladle into our own smaller bowls, a little bowl of fruit salad, a little bowl of marinated veggie salad, and five cookies. I thought, One-fifth of that food isn’t going to be enough for me. I took my one-fifth servings, and sat, and talked, and ate. And everything was incredibly delicious – I would happily have eaten another serving of anything – but, in fact, it was exactly the right amount of food to satisfy my hunger. Good food without the option of gluttony. I wish I could eat that way all the time.

3. I met a parishioner Sunday who is struggling with a particularly nasty form of progressive dementia, which is rather swiftly taking away her ability to understand English words. She used to be a teacher, and a writer. She told me, standing right there in the foyer of the church with coffee hour bustling around her, that she plans to take her own life before she loses her mind completely, because she has no intention of having her family have to care for her for years when her mind and personality are gone. I had no idea what to say, though I think I got by with sympathetic nods. I’m meeting with her next week, and I still have no idea what to say. I ask myself what I think about this woman’s intentions, and no answer emerges. I need to pray on this, and look up the church’s official position on the matter, for what wisdom it may contain. But I’d welcome your thoughts, friends.

The magic door opens.

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Suddenly, Zag is really reading. For a good many months now, he’s been able to sound his way through something like Green Eggs and Ham or the Elephant and Piggy books (which are a very cute/funny recent easy reader series to look out for at your library, if you know any 4-5 year olds). But it always took some coaxing to get him to sit and read, and he would get discouraged or tired easily.
Now the penny has dropped. Suddenly reading something to one of us is near the top of his list of favorite things – below Lego and iPad games, but still, it’s something he suggests and clearly enjoys. He read me a chunk of One Fish Two Fish this afternoon, then later, a chapter of an easy reader about a grasshoppeer detective. He cruises right along, only needing to sound out a few words. And he’s clearly got the cognitive mechanism that lets you recognize/guess a word from context – he’ll come to a word like “forgot” or “blanket,” which I’m sure he’d have to sound out if he encoutered it as an isolated word, but in the flow of the text he just nails it and moves right along. It’s really fun to watch.
I expect this phase to last approximately another nanosecond. Then he’s going to realize that he can read well enough not to need an adult beside him. He’ll just start reading on his own. That will be a great leap, and it will be fun to share favorite chapter books with him, in the not-too-distant future. But I do love having my son read to me. And I sure hope he lets us keep reading to him.
He misses, and I miss, his relationship with his teachers at his Montessori school in our previous home. Zag had a special friendship with one of the teachers, Miss Pia – they would talk about books together; she was familiar with most of the books we were reading him at home. He likes his new teacher, but she’s got her hands full and doesn’t have time to chat quietly with one intense and imaginative little boy. Thinking on this tonight makes me resolve to support him in making some new grownup friends. I’ll have to canvass our new acquaintances for an in-depth familiarity with children’s literature. And maybe his grandparents should call him sometimes. He has a rich interior life, this one, and sometimes his parents don’t have the time (or aren’t the best people) to process it with him.