Friday, March 31, 2006

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood....

Yes indeed, it is! It is a perfectly sunny, breezy, 70 degree day....a day when you can't help but see the bright side of things. Lucas slept last night in his new big boy bed, waking only once at 3:30am (really, an incredible night for him!), and then up for good at 6am (can't wait to turn those clocks ahead!). As with the beautiful crib we have enjoyed for the past five years, this great new Lucas bed was lent to us. We LOVE having friends who share--and of course we're looking forward to returning the crib after a more than generous five year stay at our house! I was concerned that he might not nap in the bed--too much temptation to get up and run around the room--but he had fallen asleep while we were out running errands, and I was able to put him right back down without even a wink. Again, this NEVER happens. What is with this day?

Wait, it gets better! We hauled out the double stroller and enjoyed the many flowers in bloom on a walk to the doctor's office. (Have I mentioned it is perfectly sunny today??? No coat weather! Hooray!) This visit to the doctor was for both kids: Kyra was complaining about her ear, and Lucas was, as always, rubbing both of his. The bright side of this visit? We were taken into the examining room early....I mean literally early! Our appointment was with a physician's assistant at 10am, and we were taken in at 9:55am. Again, this NEVER happens! Kyra survived a throat culture and received the good news that her treatment is to eat more popsicles and sleep upright to drain a little bit of fluid in her right ear. And Lucas? NO EAR INFECTIONS! Can you imagine? She suspects he has a sinus infection and prescribed an antibiotic, but we're giving ourselves a couple of days of saline nose drops and aggressive cold treatment before we dive into the antibiotic of the hour. WOW--what great news!

I am so dwelling in the light of this day, I was only minorly bothered when Lucas tried to choke his sister by pinching her neck and literally ran aisles away from me when I let him down to walk in Target. (I should note that I did so only after he literally stood in the child seat of the cart three times. It was let him walk or watch him fall from great heights!) To what or whom do I credit this great day? Well, let me share. A year or two ago I read a book called Spiritual Parenting: A Guide to Understanding and Nurturing the Heart of your Child. I really loved this book and could talk about it quite extensively, but will share one particular instance that has stayed with me since. The book is written by partners who are also parenting together, and they detailed some challenging times with one son, in particular. They used to hold hands together and "pray" for this child by simply envisioning him in a circle of light. As I remember it, they were simply envisioning him in the presence of God. On mornings when I am clear enough to remember, or when I'm particularly concerned or nervous about the day ahead, I do just the same. In true "put your own oxygen mask on first" fashion, I envision myself in light, and then I do so for each of my family members. You might scoff, but I have consistently found that these days, while perhaps no different in their activities or make-up, have this sort of indescribable glow. All of my family look lovely and "of God" to me. Those simple moments in the morning make all of the difference. This morning, with a few extra moments as Lucas played on his own in his room (chewing on the wire of his monitor, but that's another anxiety-producing story for another anxiety-producing day!), I did just this--one by one, I envisioned us in light. Try it--you, too, might find yourself walking in light for a day!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Early anatomy lessons

Kyra's bedroom has a small set of built-in bookshelves. Until the completion of Lucas's room last spring, they were the only bookshelves in the house. When I decided to hold onto "What to Expect the First Year" and "Your Baby, Your Child" while gleefully pitching the pregnancy books, Kyra's room seemed the best place to store them. Fast forward to today.... I was dressing for a quick celebratory visit to the college (our ten year service award!) and Matt and I were both frustrated with the kids' inability to settle for a nap or, at minimum, a "rest" as we call Kyra's time off....or is that really our time off? Anyway, Matt could hear Kyra moving about her room and went upstairs to encourage her to sleep. He came down barely stifling a laugh. Apparently Kyra has been perusing the child-care books, paying particular attention to what she called her "favorite page." The page with which she was so fascinated? Penis care, complete with two illustrations--one of the circumcised penis, and one with the uncircumcised penis. Matt described her as studying the images intently.

I should note that nudity and body part discussion is hardly taboo in our house. We were early proponents of the "proper words" for anatomy, and we continue to be despite embarrassing moments from time to time (including two-year-old Kyra going around the table of an extended family gathering at a restaurant considering aloud the particular parts that might belong to the person seated there!). We do discourage much contact with her brother's private parts, despite that she is more than happy to help him push his penis down into his little potty. (As a side note, those little potties present quite a challenge! I had no idea when we had a girl in potty-mode. The shield is handy, but it rises so high, the poor little guy ends up stuck on nearly every "mount!") We have presumed our comfort with bodies just being bodies, private parts and all, might limit some of the fascination so in evidence at naptime. Not so!

Fast forward a bit further.... Matt had left for his basketball league, the kids had just completed their baths, and Kyra, after being removed from the tub early for a series of poor choices, was crying fitfully for her Daddy. I was trying to get Lucas into a diaper, stifling my own laugh as he tugged and tugged on his own penis making the "Chhhhh" sound he and Kyra make when they play firefighter. Apparently, with no prompting from elsewhere, he already understands the power of his hose! Unaware of this firefighter role play in full swing, Kyra wandered in holding the book open to her favorite page. She held it up and, with tear-filled eyes and a completely serious voice said, "This is how I remember Daddy--by looking at these."

Will they ever forgive me for writing this? Absolutely not. Would I forgive myself if I neglected to do so? Absolutely not. Ah, the bind these blogs put us in....

Sunday, March 26, 2006

It's all in the name...

This morning Kyra asked why/how we selected her name. The answer is simple--we both had liked it for years, and were absolutely agreed if we had a girl, Kyra would be her name. Lucas is a bit more complicated. We had a Jennifer, a Kyra, and a Matthew. Because I crave order and have been known to obsess about word games, the missing "L" in our J, K and M family stood out grotesquely. We had some ideas for "L" girls--Lyndsey was my choice, and Lauryn was Matt's. (I believe Abigail would have been the middle name, but my memory is quickly fading on this...) The "L" boy seemed a bit more challenged. Louis? Nah. Laurence? Double nah. We liked Luke, but we had always wanted "Cooper" for a middle name (more on this in a moment....), and the double "k/hard c" sound of Luke Cooper always felt awkward. Logan seemed to fit for awhile, but two weeks before I was due I decided (in true summer pregnancy style) it WOULD NOT DO AT ALL! No, never! When a new baby at Kyra's day care was named "Lucas," she had begun to call my belly "Baby Lucas." For three months, while Matt and I were still debating the Lauryn/Lyndsey choice (Lauryn, by the way, was due to win out.), Kyra called this being inside "Baby Lucas." We were so convinced it would be a girl, we barely gave it a second thought.

When I was two days overdue and rapidly tiring of being pregnant, I said to Matt, "Maybe it's actually a boy and he knows we don't have a name for him yet." We rubbed that beautiful belly, asked the baby to come and said, "We want you to know, we will pick a name when you arrive. We won't know until we see you." Well, surprise, surprise, within hours my water broke. Many hours later still, a baby boy was nestled in my arms, nameless, with "Baby Boy" on all his official hospital garb and ID cards to prove his parents indecision. Three hours after this, with only Auntie and Kyra aware a baby had been born, we were feeling pressed to make some calls. We needed a name! With three months of practice at Lucas, we attached the Cooper I had always wanted, and it seemed a good enough fit. Lucas Cooper he would be. Let the calls begin!

I share this story to say that the Lucas aspect of our dear boy's name is trivial in some ways--I had that missing letter obsession, Kyra had selected a name she had heard, and we just couldn't come up with anything better. But the Cooper was a point of real attachment. As you have read previously, Matt and I are BIG fans of Cooperstown, NY. We met there, we hope someday to live there (though retirement seems like the life phase we are presently aiming for....), and we wanted to mark our shared connection to the beautiful lake and town with the name "Cooper." I can state quite emphatically that Matt and I are not fans of the town because of a lifelong baseball obsession. I've been to the Baseball Hall of Fame once, and I suspect Matt hasn't been many more times. Lucas Cooper, however, might feel a bit of the baseball connection. This morning he was strolling aimlessly around the house. We have an open floor plan with all the rooms leading naturally into the next, and I find lately I get a little nervous when Lucas begins to circle the downstairs. He did so this morning with a green and white bouncy ball in his hand. As I knelt on the kitchen floor tying Kyra's sneakers, Lucas approached the kitchen table opposite where Matt was eating breakfast. With more fluidity than I have ever found in throwing overhand, Lucas lifted that bouncy ball and chucked it across the table, squarely hitting a tall glass of water left over from my own breakfast. Matt leapt into the air as water sprayed all down his left side, Kyra's shoes barely escaped being drenched, and Lucas looked like it was just another day at the park. The ball park, that is. Clearly the name is in him.... And I should mention as an afterthought, he's nothing but a Lucas for us now. The name, once a point of indifference for us, now represents him through and through. We couldn't ask for more than our Kyra Elisabeth and Lucas Cooper, names, faces, personalities and all!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Talent Given Us

Matt's given talent seems to be finding obscure, little-known independent films that, despite (or perhaps because of) their no-name status, are quite thought-provoking and interesting. Last night's pick was The Talent Given Us. In a truly bizarre blending of fact and fiction, reality and fantasy, a screenwriter/director created a script about a family (seemingly based on his own) and then cast his entire family in it. The family is traveling cross-country to set things right with the frequently out-of-touch screenwriting son, and so, indeed, to create this film, the entire family traveled across the country together. The film shifted from humorous to downright painful at times (Don't we all have road trip family memories we would just as soon forget?), but when taken with the special feature "making of the movie" clips, it was all just bizarre and fun. Ultimately the family self-promoted the film (despite making it to Sundance, they were not picked up by a distributor), and I'm certainly willing to do my part. Watch it!

Following the movie we got sucked into some buzzer beater basketball games in the NCAA men's tournament. I tend not to watch on principle, as I get frustrated that the men's tournament gets so much interest in contrast to the women's, but last night's closing minutes of a couple of different games made for truly edge of your seat basketball watching. We didn't make our way to bed until 1:30am (forgetting temporarily that our lives don't accomodate these hours!), and then both kids were up and in our bed, WIDE AWAKE, at 5am. Poor Lucas was approaching his final dose of an antibiotic we once believed him to be allergic to. It was his wonderful father who last night spoke the fateful words, "Well it certainly seems like he's not allergic," before discovering at 6:30am this morning that his son was not sleeping because he was (is!) covered head to toe in hives. Apparently that conversation took place about 10 hours too soon. Time for more Benadryl....

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Potty humor for all ages

I was a half hour from home the other day, driving down our local "strip mall highway," Route 1. I looked up to a sign that prompted the following two thoughts:

1. Bathroom humor, while something we actively discourage in our potty-crazed Kyra, is really amusing throughout one's life, and

2. If I were a real blogger, I would drive home right now, grab my camera and drive right back. I'm not sure mere words can do this sign justice!

As you know I am not a real blogger, the words will have to suffice. The billboard was advertising a company that works on home foundations--repair, filling cracks, etc.

The punch line (at least, as I read it!): "Because a dry crack is a happy crack!"

These are just the words I'll use when Kyra next refuses to wipe her bum.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

BFI, interview style

I have had yet another beyond first impressions moment. I survived yesterday's interview at super-duper university, and though I don't anticipate being named as one of the two finalists, I feel I presented myself well and did justice to my abilities and experiences. Of course interview days are not simply to present oneself, but also to take in and evaluate the presentations of others. While most of my interviews (12 hours plus of them!) were one on one, the day began with a group of ten. Within the group there were some vocal questioners, some actively engaged listeners, and some listeners who didn't always seem to be with me in the room. Today, as I was sending thank you emails to the many, many interviewers (no worries--a formal, written message went to the chair; my fabulous career mentor said I could be off the handwritten hook on the whole crew since there were so many of them!), I struggled a bit more to personalize with those listeners who didn't always seem as tuned in and connected. In such circumstances, I tended to default to speaking about "areas"--as in, areas of overlap between the center I would direct and their particular center or office. Thoughout the day I have received responses from the interviewers--typically a basic "Thanks for taking the time to talk with us" message. Tonight one of the interviewers I would have perceived as not checked in sent a thoughtful, thought-provoking message many paragraphs long. I guess the group conversation simply isn't his style. Yet again, the book beneath the cover is far different than I had imagined. Beyond first impressions....

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


I took today off with the intention of executing a trial travel run before Monday's marathon day of interviews ("meetings" I like to call them, as I'm a rare bird who actually likes meetings and this makes me feel far more confident and calm about my 8am-8pm day!). A rainy start to the day, a delayed meeting by phone for my current work, and general laziness kept me home. I fortunately took Thursday off also, knowing that one of my planned days would likely fall through in just this manner--and I'm hopeful on Thursday Matt can join me as well!

After I pried my fingers off my laptop keyboard (I once gave up at-home computer time for Lent; I learned a lot about myself during that 40 plus day period!), I decided I had to do something productive. One of Matt's employees is awaiting the birth of a baby, and we are celebrating with a shower on Friday. ('s a secret! I don't think anyone who knows or works with him reads the blog--Matt being an obvious exception--so I'm hoping I'm safe with this one!) Despite that this year we are resisting any "unnecessary" expenditures for our Lenten period of engagement and reflection, I decided a trip to Babies 'R' Us was justified. This is obviously a stretch of the term "necessary," but it is important toward sustaining our relationship with someone who has been remarkably generous to us and our children. (I could write an entirely separate blog on the "even exchange" model of gift-giving so many of us participate in, but that will wait for another day....) The 8-10 page registry (lost count!) displayed few unpurchased items, but I still managed to pull together a couple of toys, feeding implements and onesies in what I think will be a suitable gift set.

Visiting Babies 'R' Us post-baby is a completely different experience than pre-baby. You are suddenly the one "in the know" and "in the cheap," and most every item seems frivolous and unnecessary. We were fortunate to be able to borrow many large items (e.g., crib, double stroller), and recycled furniture and clothes at every conceivable opportunity, but we still found ourselves with "stuff." Our kids were bathed in the made-for-baby bathtub for just a few weeks (and visit any baby consignment shop to see where all those new tubs visit for their final resting place!), and we still need to get on eBay to sell the high-end children's backpack we were convinced we absolutely needed for all the hiking we were planning to do. HA! The cupboard full of sippy cups rarely gets tapped, and we have silver baby utensils sitting in the china cabinet because, as yet, I feel too guilty to give them away or sell them! If only we knew then what we know now.... I might have been able to survive my shopping trip without this diatribe had I not seen this when I walked through the door. I guess we all have our own ideas of what we actually need to care for a baby. (Perhaps if I had bathed in one of these as a child, I would be better suited to the life of luxury I just know is waiting for me!)

Returning home to my computer, after the minor detour of a walk, I read this and found it fascinating. Perhaps I could manage my yoga DVD more than once or twice a month if afflicted as this father and daughter. Then again, maybe not!

And in the midst of all this frivolous exchange, I am so aware of my day-to-day separation from war and poverty and the global devastation we participate in with our actions and inactions. My safe, comfortable life enfolds me in a cocoon of partial ignorance and occasional ambivalence. In my mind, I want to break free from that cocoon and see the world as it truly is, but in my heart, I know it would be too much to bear.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Call 911, or just shout out the door!

We have only one phone connected downstairs, a cordless phone hanging in the kitchen near our entryway. We used to have one in another room on the desk, but Lucas became a bit too curious; we were increasingly concerned we would either awaken a West Coast relative early in the morning or discover the police, fire and rescue squads of our fine city on our door step. I don't know about your household, but ours has horrible luck with cordless phones. Either the batteries fail to hold a charge or the keypad loses its sensitivity and the number buttons stick or fail to connect at all. If you want a call back and your phone number no longer appears in our "received calls" list, you're unlikely to hear from us! If we can't press a simple "redial," we're screwed. A couple of weeks ago I was at my sister's house and discovered her cordless phone is in a similar state. After a ten minute effort to dial Matt's cell phone number, I was ready to give up. We realized, anxiety-prone though we are, neither of us had considered a plan to call 9-1-1 if the number 9 was having a particularly sticky day or the number 1 was temporarily out of service. Honestly, what is the point of teaching Kyra how to dial the number if a shout out the window is more likely to ensure success? If you see our door open and hear cries for help, call 9-1-1 on our behalf--and please, by all means, don't dial from your cordless phone!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Flight of the Ladybugs

We've just returned from a weekend at Matt's parents' home in central New York. They are unbelievably kind--transporting themselves to a basement bedroom so we can have the upstairs rooms near the bathroom. When I was horribly nauseous while pregnant this room swap began, and it hasn't stopped yet. You would think we would offer them our comfy king-sized bed on their visits to our home instead of our "guest futon," but we have yet to do so. At least we offer them the freedom on the futon of being a floor away from our frequent night-waking children!

For some unknown reason, Matt's parents' home is infested with ladybugs. "Infested" is likely too strong a word, but they are present enough that we pause to shake out our clothes in the morning or brush off the pillow when going to bed. Despite being both harmless and beautiful, ladybugs were worthy of a full-blown phobia for Kyra on this trip. She and Lucas were attempting to share a bedroom--a scene that reminds me just how much I have become like my parents! For a couple of hours each evening we would sit in the living room listening to the loud giggles and shrieks from under their door. (This shared room arrangement became even more interesting when Lucas learned how to crawl out of his pack 'n' play and didn't hesitate to do so!) I absolutely remember hours of illicit laughter and play behind closed doors with my own sister, as parental "tone" became increasingly threatening from the other side of the door. I'm certain our two believed they were equally invisible to us behind closed doors, and found our "tone" just as amusing as I once did. Our big threat? Kyra would need to move to "our room" (also known as Grandma and Grandpa's room, though our kids have never seen them sleep there!). The ladybugs are more plentiful in there, so this was fear-inducing for Kyra. We only followed through on the threat during a nap, and even then Matt had to build a special card table tent for her and I eventually capitulated and slept with her on their bed (not that I minded the nap....). At the start of this post I was contemplating asking for ladybug remedies, but as I recount the power of the threat, I'm realizing their presence likely works in our favor.

And speaking of phobias, I suppose it is only fitting that I have a child with at least a mild neurosis. My big fear? V O M I T! In all forms, as it affects all senses--the sound of someone throwing up, the sight of someone throwing up, the smell of throw up, the memory of someone throwing up. On and on I could describe this fear, but I actually get a little twinge in my stomach and my mouth starts that awful pre-puke salivating just by typing the words. My mother once explained the root of my fear as being the frequent car sickness of my sister in early travels. Apparently I was often the target of the surprise vomit attack and this had a lifelong effect. Anyway, we visited an outlet mall on the way to Matt's parents. After relative success in purchasing new shoes for the kids (who grew out of their current pairs overnight--no lie--and were suddenly coming home with daily blisters), we were driving down the hill to rejoin the Mass. Turnpike. A car in front of us stopped suddenly. Matt slammed on the brakes just as quickly and said, "You've got to be kidding me," in disgust. Meanwhile I had a front row seat for the passenger in the car leaning out to expel her lunch, her breakfast, and potentially a snack from the night before. Not pretty--and a sight we were fortunate enough to witness again at a red light at the bottom of the hill. For those who know about my phobia, you can imagine the consequences--my instant queasiness, my reaching for the plastic bags every time one of the kids even coughed. I am still racing around the house with Clorox wipes, hoping against hope to outclean the nasty stomach virus as it moves its way through the northeast. I'm glad to know I'm not alone in my fears. Catherine Newman, of Ben and Birdy fame, wrote about her own barf fears here. After learning that the friends who hosted Kyra last weekend for the aforementioned sleepover had been chased down by this virus soon after her departure, I spent the entire week living in dread. I actually said to Matt, "If given the choice between being independently wealthy and having none of my family members throw up ever again, I'd take the 'no vomit' option." It's just that bad!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Let the sleepovers begin!

When we attended our pre-op appointment for Lucas last Thursday, we were informed not to bring any additional children with us on the day of surgery. If the words hadn't been printed on their customary "instructions form," I would have assumed they were spoken just for us--the parents who had both their children crawling up and down their legs as they attempted to carefully read about death, brain damage, and other potential effects of anesthesia. I kid you not (pun not intended)--before we were told not to bring Kyra this morning, it hadn't even occurred to us she wouldn't come along!

Fortunately for us, we have good friends nearby with kids the same ages as our two. We have vacationed together, spent New Years Eve together mourning the loss of our freedom (oh, yes--and celebrating that we could be up every 1-2 hours with our then-babies!), and shared countless hours of play dates and field trips around southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Timothy, the four-almost-five year old in this other family, is far and away Kyra's best friend. He stayed overnight at our house twice when his sister Anna was born, but Kyra hadn't yet had the opportunity to do the same. When we considered our early-morning departure to the hospital, last night seemed the perfect night for Kyra's first friend sleep away night. (She has had the fortune of Auntie Heather-hosted sleepovers, so technically this wasn't her true first, but a friend feels different somehow!)

We arrived at bedtime and it was clear Kyra was in for some fun. Timothy had set up a sleeps-two tent in his room and was all ready for the ultimate camp-in evening. I don't know whether I was anxious about the surgery, her sleepover, or both, but I found myself giving more instructions than I had intended. I was planning to follow Matt's lead and be totally casual, modeling for Kyra that sleepovers are just boring, every day kinds of things that most everyone does. Instead, I was quizzing her about using her words if she felt sick, if she felt sad, if she had to go to the bathroom but was worried about flushing the toilet. On and on....thankfully Kyra's joy wasn't in any way dampened by my extensive grilling! Kyra was spared by our desire to get home for the Oscars, so we popped out nearly as quickly as we had popped in.

When I called post-surgery (the stories of which we will save for another day--suffice it to say, Matt is a saintly parent for watching his son go under anesthesia, and Lucas is a superior patient; all is well with that adorable right ear), Kyra had absolutely no interest in speaking with me. I should have taken this as the first sign of what would greet me in the afternoon when I picked her up. Instead, I coaxed her into talking to her brother on the phone so I could hear a word or two about her night. Melanie filled me in on the gaps: French toast sticks for breakfast, a short time playing outdoors before everyone became too cold to stay out, and the infamous brother/sister sort of arguing Timothy and Kyra are known to do. Typically this is the "who is taller (Kyra), who is older (Timothy), and what does this say about who will be grown up first?" line of reasoning and debate. I begged for a few more hours of relative peace at home for the still a little bit grumpy Lucas and went off for my own nap.

I went to pick Kyra up late afternoon and things had soured a bit for Melanie. Timothy had just slammed Anna's finger in the door and she was trying to decide whether to go to the emergency room or the pediatrician. Kyra, meanwhile, had decided she wanted to live there--forever. Though I was able to get her to the car with relative ease due to Melanie leaving simultaneously with both her kids, it was a teary ride home (and an outright sob-filled evening by the time we arrived home!) as Kyra faced the transition from the newness of life with her friend to the same old, same old at home. She exclaimed over and over how she hadn't missed us one bit--not for an instant--and she was even able to flush the toilet on her own. (Note to self--stop flushing it for her at home if she is so obviously capable!) She walked through the door to a delighted brother and declared that she wanted to go and live with Timothy and his family forever. She never, ever wants to live with us again.

This routine catches me off-guard every time. (Kyra has the same trouble with transitioning home from Auntie's house.) She is reserved and parent-centered enough that I would expect her to come rushing to our arms, ecstatic to return to the comfort and safety of home. Clearly behind her quiet exterior is a girl who craves change and adventure. (Let's see if this pans out when she's in her twenties!) Kyra's shift to home is a storm we simply must ride out. My best attempts to talk with her, reason with her, question her feelings so I can better understand them are futile.

By bedtime she was exhausted, curled up against me, forcing her eyes to stay open as I read one story to her from her Highlights magazine. Rarely one to admit exhaustion, she uncharacteristically exclaimed, "I'm so tired. I think I could go to sleep right now." We said prayers, she linked her arms around me, nestled into my shoulder and fell asleep. Perhaps we're not such a bad crowd to return to after all....

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Yet another reason why their father should be home with them

Believe it or not, this is Lucas "riding" one of Daddy's creations while Kyra and I were at church. Given his need to be cold symptom-free for surgery tomorrow, Lucas needed to stay clear of the church nursery--perhaps the original source of most viruses in our home!

And in honor of this gorgeous boy and his ear which will tomorrow be undergoing minor modification, I post this favorite picture I took the other day. I have always loved a man with an earring!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Let's pretend it's still March 3rd.... I can be on time to wish SUE a HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Gosh, one of these years I might turn that February birthday calendar a few days early (or perhaps even on time!) so I can acknowledge your special day. Hope you had a super one! Know that any wishes you made just gained double their strength from my good wishes for YOU!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A lesson in impermanence

Are you one of those parents who patiently creates scrapbook after scrapbook of your child's artwork? Does it adorn relatives' refrigerators, or is it framed and on display in prominent locations in your home? Kyra is a prolific artist, but you will likely find most examples of her work peeking out from our recycle bin.

I know, I know--someday I will wish I had captured every moment: her first scribble, her first discernable shape, her first tree, her first representative picture (Just the other day she drew a tractor and hay baler in a field from her memory of a tractor book.), her first letters (Okay, even I have the first "mommy" ever written!), on and on it goes. The sheer volume of paper overwhelms me, though, and I'm trying to live life in a relatively clutter-free environment. Day after day Kyra returns from school with a pile of pictures and self-made crafts. After asking my customary questions, "What can you tell me about this? What do you like about this? What were you trying to do over here?" I pause, contemplating just how long the paper needs to stay on the table before I surreptitiously drop it in the big blue bin. Until bedtime....until the all depends on the mood of the house!

It's not as though this is a secret we keep from Kyra. She knows this is where most of her pictures go, and we do together select a few that are particularly special or impressive to hang on an at-home bulletin board. (And even if we didn't tell her outright, I'd like to believe she is smart enough to figure out something has happened when the ten pictures she brings home have turned into one by morning!) I prefer to think of her works of art as the Zen buddhists' sand mandalas. If you've never seen or heard of a mandala, you can read more here. While I haven't seen the massive structures depicted on this particular webpage, I have had the pleasure of watching monks painstakingly create a sand mandala--days spent on their knees in meditative creation as they pinch, pour, and blow the sand into elaborate designs. When the mandala is completed, it is blessed, admired by the observing audience, and then swept away. Over and over and over the monks participate in this act of sacred creation and equally sacred destruction. Everything is impermanent. Everything will pass away. Everyone will pass away. Over and over and over this lesson is remembered and affirmed.

So perhaps my acts of recycling are just as sacred as Kyra's acts of creation....or maybe I'm just a tad on the heartless side! Regardless, if you want to receive a Kyra original, let me know. Shipping them off to relatives and friends feels a step above the immediate trip to the recycling bin. Good news--Lucas is an artist these days, too! More paper scribbles to come your way.