Every time we move, we experience many small events that make an impression in the moment. Many of these events go unrecorded, as there isn’t enough to say about them to fill a blog post. Many more get quick mentions on Facebook, only to disappear into the ether as time passes, memory fades, and we don’t look back on old Facebook statuses and remember.
Life with a young child, likewise, is filled with small events. We parents think we’ll never forget all the moments of sweet innocence, of joyful silliness, of hilarious cluelessness. But we do.
This blog can serve as my reminder. After each international move, I download the posts written from our previous home, and I create a “blog book.” In the process, I edit heavily—correcting the formatting errors that occur during the download (why in the world do ALL the blog-to-book software options remove the space between paragraphs?!), adding in pictures and names that I don’t want to share on the internet, fixing the typographical errors that I missed the first time around. And in the process, I remember.
As I read each post, it takes me back. I find myself reliving the moments of which I hadn’t thought in months, about which I’d totally forgotten. I am reminded of details. I look back on those moments that would have been lost forever if I hadn’t recorded them.
Today I am inspired to preserve a few* moments. Bear with me, please … or better yet, enjoy and appreciate these small moments with me.
I Love You, Mama
Several months ago, I asked Alexa—on a whim, really—if she wanted to tell Daddy that she loves him. Immediately, she made her wordless affirmative noise. “Ok, then, go ahead and tell him.”
No hesitation: “I love you, Daddy,” came her sweet voice. Since then, she’s told him more times than I can count.
But ask her if she wants to tell Mama that she loves her. Again, no hesitation: “No.” Ask her if she loves Mama, and she says “yes” or makes her wordless affirmative noise. But ask her if she wants to say the words, and she absolutely, positively, most assuredly does not.
Yesterday morning, I was getting ready to go out to the supermarket. Because it was Memorial Day, Jeff was home, and Alexa would be staying with him while I did the shopping. As I was putting my shoes on by the door, I heard Jeff upstairs in the playroom, asking Alexa “Would you like to tell Mama you love her?” I didn’t hear the response, but I didn’t need to; I’d heard it every time he asked her that question.
“Mama, did you hear that?” Jeff called. After my negative response, he asked Alexa to say the same thing, just louder.
And then I heard it.
Alexa’s sweet little voice, saying “I love you, Mama.”
I restrained my impulse to go pick her up and hug her with all my strength … scaring and possibly breaking her isn’t the appropriate reaction. Instead I took a cue from Jeff’s response when she tells him that she loves him, and I said calmly, “I love you, too, Sweet Pea.”
Since then, Jeff has asked her a couple more times if she wants to tell Mama that she loves her. The response? Absolutely, positively, most assuredly “No.” But that’s okay. She’ll say it again in her own time. Until then, I’ll be grateful that one time, she chose to give me the simple joy of hearing her sweet little voice telling me that she loves me.
Uh Oh! There’s Nobody There!
Apparently I have not done well in saying the blessing with Alexa before she eats her lunch every day. Each evening at dinner, either Jeff or I will say “It’s time to pray,” and Alexa obediently will put down her fork, spoon, or food (whichever is in her hand at that moment) and reach out her hands—one for Jeff to hold and one for me to hold. Then we pray, we release hands, and we all start (or resume, in Alexa’s case) eating.
At lunch, Alexa almost always eats earlier than I do. She eats between 11 and 11:30 most days, well before I get hungry—and since she doesn’t take long to eat, and goes down for her nap immediately after lunch, I don’t eat with her even when I am ready for lunch, because I don’t want to rush. So I set her up with some food and then either clean up the kitchen while she eats or sit with her at the table but don’t eat anything. Although it feels a bit sacrilegious to admit it, it usually doesn’t occur to me to pray with her if I’m not eating.
Today, however, I did eat with her. I set her up with her food, then prepared mine and sat down at the table. “It’s time to pray,” I said.
Alexa obediently put down her spoon and reached out both hands—one to me and one to the empty chair beside her. Then she looked at me in all seriousness and said, “Uh oh! There’s nobody there!”
I had to assure her that when no one else is here, it’s okay to just hold Mama’s hand while we pray. Unfortunately, for Alexa, that translates into transferring her spoon to her other hand and continuing to eat while holding Mama’s hand during the blessing, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Lexa is Still Hungry!
Jeff was a little late getting home today, and Alexa was really hungry by the time he arrived. I’d held dinner because I didn’t realize just how late he was going to be, so she hadn’t had anything to eat in over three hours, even though it was half an hour past her usual dinner time. So we fixed her plate first and let her go ahead and sit down to eat while we fixed ours (since we were eating leftovers from our cookout yesterday, it was just a matter of fixing plates and reheating them). By the time Jeff sat down and I was almost ready to sit down, Alexa was ready for dessert.
We offered chocolate ice cream, also left over from yesterday. Alexa enthusiastically accepted. I gave her the ice cream, then sat down to eat (“Uh oh! We forgot to pray!” Alexa said, as we said the blessing over her dessert). Moments later, Alexa had eaten all her ice cream and wanted more.
We said no. Cue the sad little pitiful crying, with big crocodile tears rolling down her face. “Lexa is still hungry!”
Jeff told her that we understood that she was still hungry, and she could eat more if she wanted to, but not more ice cream. She needed to eat a lot of good healthy food, and only a little dessert. That was not what she wanted to hear. The crocodile tears intensified.
Then we offered a specific alternative to chocolate ice cream. “Would you like some carrots and red pepper?” (Also left over from yesterday, from the vegetable appetizers.)
“Yes!” The tears dried up—immediately. When we offered some leftover watermelon as well, you’d think the chocolate ice cream never even existed.
Is there any other child in the world who views carrots, red peppers, and watermelon as an acceptable—and even superior—substitute for chocolate ice cream?
*Originally there were two more moments I wanted to share today, moments that have more to do with moving here than with Alexa. However, in the process of writing them down, they became their own blog posts. Expect them in the coming days.