Grace and I are starting to form a new habit for our quiet afternoons together on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Those are the mornings she has school, which invariably means I am very tired from staying up too late reading the night before. I know I have to go to bed at a decent time, but I can’t seem to manage to turn off my light before 12:30 or even 1am.
So after we pick up Grace from school, I feed myself and Mary Ellen, and then I let the kids play for a little while. Finally ME will get to the point where anything and everything pisses her off, at which point I announce, “NAP!” and she toddles off to her room, where she waits next to the crib till I arrive to lift her in. I kid you not. She’s so freakin’ smart, it’s shocking.
That leaves Grace and I on our own. I usually do a bit of housework while I have ME out of my hair, but then my late nights tend to catch up with me. At that point, it’s time to rest. Grace runs to the closet to get my old green blanket, the one that went to college with my mom back in the early 1970s, and we snuggle up on the couch, each with our own book. Sometimes we cuddle and talk, but mostly I lay at one end of the couch with my book while she lays at the other end and reads her sticker book. She likes to say that our feet are cuddling together, which always makes me laugh.
And invariably, I’ll end up snoozing while she is still reading her book. She keeps up a constant stream of chatter, but I’m so used to it by now that I just tend to tune it out. If I didn’t, I’d never get any rest. This girl wakes up talking and never stops until she’s asleep once again. Sometimes she goes to play with her toys, and I like to listen to her play-acting with them. Any toy of hers, not just the dolls, can be a character in one of her stories. Sometimes it’s her cars that become part of these elaborate stories. It amazes me to no end because I can remember being a kid and wondering how my friends managed to play with dolls. I never seemed to have that level of creativity.
Grace sure does! And I’m so glad for it.
Tonight Kurt had a long day at work. Final exams, for lack of a better phrase, are next week for his students, and like any group of students, they’ve let their studying to the last minute. Kurt came home for less than an hour for lunch, stopped by for another hour to grab dinner, and then came home for good at 8:30pm — and he went in at 7am this morning. Poor guy. This meant I had to do the whole bedtime routine for the girls, which generally isn’t my job. Ever since Kurt came home from his first deployment after Grace was born, he decided it would be his job to put the kids to bed. Considering he’s been on shore duty for the last two years, I haven’t had to do it very many times.
But every so often, Grace requests that I read to her, even though Kurt’s putting her to bed. And of course I oblige every time. For a while we were reading The Little Prince, but somehow we never managed to finish it. Oops.
We have a new book now! I managed to score a set of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books that was printed in the 1970s so that I could have the lovely Garth Williams illustrations with them. Tonight we opened Little House in Big Woods, and Grace seemed quite enthralled by it, even without a picture on every page. We got all the way through the first chapter, cuddling and snuggling in my little reading nook in my bedroom, before Daddy got home to finish putting her to bed.
I think I get as much out of this time with her as she does. My parents weren’t really hands-on parents, being too busy providing a good life for my siblings and I, so I did a lot all on my own. I read voraciously, whatever I wanted to, but I always wanted to talk about what I was reading, or what was going on in my life. But my parents had other things going on that took up all their time.
Now I’m sharing so much with Grace, reading and cuddling with her, playing with her and just listening to her. And it’s not just good for her. It’s good for me. No matter how crappy my day has been, it never fails to make me feel better to do something so simple with her.
I just wonder what’s going to happen when ME gets to this age. Will I be pulled in two different directions, or will I have two kids to have fun with and pal around with? I hope it’s the latter. I don’t really have any good models for parenting this whole sibling thing. My memory really starts when I was 6, when I went to go live with my dad, and by that time my sister was so much older than me (she’s only four years older, but she was five grades ahead of me), and our personalities were so different, that I know my parents dealt with us completely differently. And I don’t really remember my sister and I doing something with just my mom. Of course, that was a weird situation, my mom being “just” my stepmom. Plus my brother, aside from being the opposite gender, is ten years younger than me, so I felt more like his favorite aunt than his big sister. He and I did a lot together, but not really with our parents. They just took us wherever it is that we needed to go.
I guess I’ll make it up as I go along. That’s what all adults do, right? Right???