Daily Archives: October 15, 2014

Day 3: Nana arrives

Nana arrived on her airplane this morning, and she’s here for a week.

When I woke up this morning, Boy was dressed, he’d made his bed, and he was reading. I made breakfast and coffee and opened shades and windows and fed the dog and did all the little things I do first thing in the morning while Boy made the rest of the beds. That, and taking the dog to the back yard to play for a bit, are his morning jobs. Girl puts away the clean silverware. They ate and got dressed and brushed their teeth and then drew pictures for their Nana. Nana, arriving with her big purple suitcase that always has presents in it, layered in with the beautiful Nana nighties and clothes and good smelling soaps and pretty dangly Nana earrings.

Nana arrives with her big purple suitcase.

Mid-morning they both piled into the van with Papa to collect her, while I rushed around (finally, finally unhindered by everyone being underfoot) to clean the house as much as I could in the time I had. It just feels nicer to sit around in a living room when the carpet is vacuumed and the clutter is put away.

Before long the van pulled back in to the driveway, followed by a tumult of hugging and making coffee and toast and, following the unzipping of the big purple suitcase, the opening of Lego sets and Playmobile character packs, the happy victorious sounds of kids with new stuff, the rifling through catalogs, Lego, American Girl, that my kids call ‘magazines’ and then the beginning of assembly. God help us if we try to stand in the way of assembly; everything must be put together right now. Boy does not need help but ask him to eat lunch or get ready for his violin lesson at your peril.  Girl needs but does not want help with tiny plastic braids and torso and arms and shoes that all need to go together just so to make a beautiful Playmobile character from…India, maybe? All while the dog tears around like a maniac unable to remember that she must sit in order to receive pets from visitors. Ultimately we get the toys put together, the dog settled, and and two cups of coffee into poor Nana, who’s been awake since 3am.

When we get back from violin (more about violin another day) Nana asks if we can go to the store to get snacks. There aren’t any snacks in the house, and she wants to buy us some. This is because we are in emergency budget mode (more on that another day, too, but it probably isn’t unfamiliar to anyone getting by on one income so one parent can stay home).  Nana and I get back in the van and drive through our neighborhood the back way to Harris Teeter, chatting all the way, and then we stroll through the aisles eating samples and picking out cheese and crackers, bakery bread, chips, ginger snaps, tortilla chips, salsa, and queso, three kinds of ice cream. We spend $53 and it feels like a holiday.  All the things you could want to eat while you’re hanging out at your house for a week with your Nana, who you love so much.  Just so much.

The rest of the day is ballet and dinner (white beans and sausage with corn and kale, toast fried in sausage fat) and then I’m out the door with an umbrella, a lime, and a bottle of tonic water to see my neighbor. We’ve been planning to sit on her screened in back porch and share a gin & tonic since the beginning of summer, and tonight’s our night. I leave bedtime to Nana and Papa, returning two hours later to find everyone asleep; Girl’s with Nana, Boy’s with his Dad. I’m sure there’s a story there. I’ll hear about it tomorrow.

Day 2: Co-op

Tuesdays are co-op days.

‘Co-op’ probably means different things to different people.  Ours is effectively a one-day-a-week school held in a Unitarian church, though the program itself is secular. Classes (two periods in the morning, and two after lunch) are offered for different age groups, from Pre-K through high school. Some teachers are moms of students, some come from outside. All are highly qualified. We pay for classes. It can get expensive. There are a lot of students, in every corner. Moms stay on site, mostly in the large wooden main space, working on their laptops, talking to other moms. There’s a nursery/playroom for littles. At lunch time kids, even big ones, spill out onto the narrow lawn that encircles the old stone church, running, playing crazy tag games, gathering in little groups, crawling behind the bushes, talking about whatever kids talk about.  A couple of moms sit outside or stand around to enforce the few rules and keep an eye out, but mostly they chat, too. Some of the little girls, in particular, prefer to spend lunchtime in the playroom.

There’s a Girl Scout troop that meets the last period of the day. In fact, Girl is newly a Daisy Scout. She knows the Girl Scout Promise. So does Boy. Girl told him he, too, would be a good Girl Scout. Lately, when Girl does something particularly considerate or helpful, she declares, “Because I live by the Girl Scout Law!!”

Today Girl also learned about elephants. She tells me on the ride home: elephants have pads on their feet so that they walk quietly, even though they are so big. She tells me: Africa elephants have large ears that flop around. Asia elephants have small ears, that cannot flop. She made a book of seasons. She drew a picture about the book Who Owns the Sun, a picture of things ‘too beautiful to own’. The sun, the stars; also me. You are too beautiful to own, Mumma, she tells me. I’m fairly certain she doesn’t much understand that book (it’s about slavery) but I am extremely gratified by the drawing nonetheless.

Boy tells us, driving home, that he learned about long-distance communication in ancient times. The ancient Chinese used kites, he tells us, the kites were big and could be seen from a long way away. Also, people could use flashing mirrors.  One flash could mean everything was okay. Two could mean danger. Three could mean an enemy was spotted. Or carrier pigeons. They used carrier pigeons in World War I, he says. They attached a message to the foot of the pigeon. Maybe they also used them in World War II, he thinks, probably they did.

In his Mini-Makers class Boy constructed an automatic drawer. Four markers attached to a red plastic cup, topped by a popsicle stick that can spin, a little off kilter. There are tape and wires and paper clips and tin foil. He knows more about electronics than I do, I realize. After dinner we crowd around our little kitchen table, while he demonstrates, fiddling with the wire and the tin foil and the paper clip. He connects something, and the stick spins, off kilter. The contraption shakes and wobbles on its skinny marker legs, moving, drawing. Each marker moves a little differently. One makes little lines. One makes little dots, in a path across the paper. Girl says they are footprints. All of the movement originates simply from the off-kilter spin. We are fascinated. The automatic drawer reaches the edge of the paper and Boy moves it back to the middle, gently, so as not to dislodge the wire, over and over. It’s beautiful.