Friday, June 08, 2007

Noticing

Our kids share a room in the new Connecticut house, and at bedtime, Matt and I are often lounging there with them as we try to settle their boisterous energy (on days when they've napped) or ease their tired heads into quick sleep (on days when they've only "rested"). When we're not racing downstairs to watch American Idol (forgive us, God!) or, currently, Six Feet Under on DVD, these are the most cherished moments in the day. Whether smelling sweet or sweaty, the kids are always revealing in the dark. As we say our thank you prayers, we find out what they most remember from the day (or month, as sometimes they are most thankful for any recent "grand" event)--whether the Memorial Day parade, the book about the firetrucks, playing outside with Daddy, or bathtime with Mommy. We hear that they love us, and they give us clutching, around the neck hugs that squeeze out air and squeeze in pure bliss.

Perhaps they are no more revealing than usual, but we have slowed down sufficiently to really hear them. One night not long ago, I was lying next to Kyra, rubbing her back and listening to Lucas's squeaky whisper voice as he attempted to tell some story to Matt, my mirror image in Lucas's bed. Lucas has progressed a great deal in his speech, after months--no, years--of worry with his continuous ear infections. Despite that he talks like the pre-school bound, almost three year old boy that he is, he still cannot say the letter "r." It always has a bit of "w" to it, and for the life of me, I can't give him a gesture, image or trick to get it to be an "r." "Roar" becomes "woaw." "Ruff" becomes "wuff." When I'm not worried that his lovely pre-school teachers will wonder what the heck we've been doing with him for the past year, I find this little w-sounding "r" to be quite precious. There must have been an "r" somewhere in the chatter that night in the bedroom, because I distinctly remember squeezing my eyes shut and praying, "Please God, let me always remember this."

And of course, as always happens when one grabs the camera, closes the eyes, tries to seal in the moment, the moment slipped away. I realized immediately that I couldn't remember Kyra at two-almost-three. I didn't know if she had a special "r" or if her whisper was squeaky like her brother's. I can remember that she said "opiemeal" for "oatmeal" and "aminal" for "animal" (come to think of it, she might still do that one....), but the sounds and the feelings they prompted in me were gone. And I realized just as quickly that I wasn't sorry. Replaced with distinct, clear images of her current articulate, imaginative, five-almost-six self, my sense of the wonder of Now Kyra is so full, I don't have a lot of room for Then Kyra. And so I prayed again. "Please God, let me always notice them."

Let me be awake, alive, aware and present, and really, truly notice them--notice and appreciate whatever is special in that moment.

What I'm noticing today:
  • Matt slid quietly out of bed for his early morning basketball, so I first noticed his absence when my alarm went off. I noticed how he still takes my breath away when he walked back in wearing a new-to-him sweatshirt and shining like the morning work-out had done a world of good.
  • Lucas is wearing a favorite pair of shorts--navy and white checked. From his sister he has learned phrases like, "Are my favorite shorts in the laundry?" and "Don't they make me look cute?" (For those of you who know Kyra, this particular phrase of hers seems hysterical, doesn't it?) He's wearing his sister's old socks today, and he was running from place to place, as though the blue stripe around the ankle was high octane gasoline. The boy is made for speed.
  • We celebrated Kyra's summer birthday with her school friends today; I read a story to the class. I noticed how she is at once pained and delighted by attention, and that we must somehow persist past the embarrassment to give her that instant of pleasure. When I thanked all the kids for being friends with Kyra this year--a potentially hard year with moving in the midst of school, one boy said, "Only Camrie is [her friend]." I felt a little sting, but then remembered how Kyra had been looking at Camrie all morning and thought, "Extraverted Momma, don't make your introverted girl thrive in a room full of people. Let her revel in the company of one--she is happy."

Notice, notice, notice....

4 comments:

Jen Z. said...

Jennifer - you are the most beautiful writer. I wish we could share in your gift more often. You offer such a good reminder to enjoy our kids (and husband) in the moment. Jen Z.

Grampa Peter said...

Interesting blog! At times, I would find myself 'too busy' to notice; at other moments, decided things were not 'important enough' to notice. When life was changed drastically, I found myself able, willing and eager to notice much more. like 'noticing' the loss of a loved one's daily compassion..or an older brother's smile, or a daughter's or grandchild's hand in mine.
It's like being a tourist in my own hometown.

Sue said...

This is a huge "life lesson," one which I must make a discipline of sorts to make sure I pay attention to what's going on around me, otherwise -- like you said -- the moment will surely slip away. I like how you commented that you can't remember Kyra at a certain age, yet you love where she is now and how she's grown. I think about that with Grace, especially the way she talks (or doesn't). While she's becoming more understandable, her own "language" is the most adorable thing I have ever heard, and I do find myself thinking at times, "I wouldn't mind if she stayed this way -- I could listen to her "talk" all day." And yet when she does grow out of this, I will cherish her next step as well. I think it's a tremendous gift to be so aware of the moment ...

I love your dad's comment, "It's like being a tourist in my own hometown." Beautifully phrased, and so true!

Carmen San Diego said...

You make us all realize that we have to stop and smell the roses at times. We all live is such a fast paced country that blogs like these are enjoyable to read. Keep up the great work and thanks for always sharing with us.