To My Child

To My Child

I hope you learn that life isn’t fair.  But that that doesn’t mean it is all bad.

I hope you smile at people, even strangers, and look people in the eye.

I hope you chew with your mouth closed.

I hope you learn how to listen – really listen – to others when they need to be heard, and to the quiet beat of your own heart.

Headed down the path together.

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I hope you learn to win and lose with grace.

I hope you love and appreciate the beautiful, intricate, amazing body you’re in.

I hope you can be silly for the joy of it, and can laugh at yourself and with others kindly.

I hope you have good manners and know when to use them (almost always) and when to relax them.

I hope you trust. In others, and in yourself.

I hope you know how to make something with your own brain and hands – a song, food, a painting, a stone wall.

I hope you learn, without too many tough consequences, that attempts to escape problems, hurt, and heartbreak never really work for long.

Flying!

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I hope you pick up after yourself.

I hope you decide that it is wise and healthy to get enough sleep.

I hope you learn how to advocate for yourself without demanding, complaining or whining.

I hope you understand that stuff is just stuff.

I hope you learn you can expect goodness, but not perfection, from other people. Or from yourself.

I hope you learn how to own up to your own misdeeds, mistakes and slights without excuses, blame or deflection.

I hope you keep learning, about the world, about other people, and about yourself.

I hope you work in any small or large way to make your community, corner, city, world, a tiny bit more just and beautiful.

And I hope you know that when in doubt, you should just put stuff in the trash, and not the garbage disposal.

First Day and Everyday

Pickle

First grade starts next week.

First grade for my kind, freckled thinker who is finding his voice, and up at night pondering the merits of inboard motors.

He will be fine.  What choice does he have other than to be fine, to navigate his life on his own, at least a little bit, and figure out the way of the world through the small, significant, triumphs and heartbreaks of childhood.

The skinny-legged boy with the too-big backpack (aren’t they all?) will walk into school and I will drive away.  And get a coffee.  And drive to work.  I will not worry.

I am ready for the big moments.

I am ready for first steps, lost teeth, first days.  I am ready to watch them glide away without training wheels, to sound out books on their own, to tie their shoes.

My tender heart catches when I least expect it.

When the biggest helps the littlest with his shoes.

When the middle uses a big word I haven’t heard her use before.

When the wobbly toddler gait all of a sudden becomes smooth and coordinated.

We may mark the time with first steps and first days.  But it is those tiny changes, the ones we almost don’t see, that add up to people, our people, growing a hair’s width every night.  Our little people whose lives slowly and beautifully start to become their own, separate from us.  One millimeter, one second at a time.

In the cool dark, the clock ticks and they sing our bedtime songs with lyrics of their own.  And then a quiet pause as they drift away into dreams that are theirs alone.

 

 

To my firstborn at midnight.

To My Firstborn at Midnight

I wake you gently at midnight.

And you yawn and stretch,

Your mouth widening into the imperfect “O” I suddenly remember from years ago,

When your limbs were not so long, your sleep not so solid.

When you were still so small you fit in my arms. And we spent minutes and hours in the glow of the hall nightlight.

Your face, grown, is still yours.

And your crooked yawn is the same.

And I can’t quite believe how heavy you have become as I pick up your slack, warm, lanky body that smells like spit, and sweet sweat, and blankets.

And I am glad. And tired.

Because the middle of the quiet nights with you are mine alone.

It will be years until another person knows your midnight yawn.

For now, it is all mine.

 

 

To Pickle at Five

More than four, less than six

I kiss your tangy sweaty little boy head as you push me away.

There is sand in your hair clinging to your scalp.

Because you were doing somersaults in the dirt.

I should have known.

***

In early evening you sit, tired from a day spent figuring out the workings of the world, inside and out.

Your little brother crawls over you.  And over you again.

You don’t mind. You barely look away from the program on the TV.

***

You have grown so capable.

Limbs lengthening. Now all muscle and bone, and soft tight skin.

New freckles dot your nose. Your teeth used to seem so big.

***

Last week we saw the planets, and marveled at the vastness of the universe.

How this goes around that, and that goes around this.

And I marveled at you, my boy, who entered this world face up, eyes open.

***

Reflection

Happy belated birthday to my dearest Pickle, a kind and generous boy who has only just started being a little too cool for my kisses.

Close up

Growth

Pickle, if sometimes I look at you with a bewildered look on my face, it is because you’ve just used the word “concentration” or “distract” or “predator” correctly and I have no idea how that is possible. 

Pickle

 *****

Plum, if I laugh at you when I’m supposed to be grumpy at your utter disregard for direction or instruction, it is because you have seen my displeasure, and instead of heeding my request, go your merry way saying simply, “Be HAPPY, Mama!” 

Plum

 *****
Pistachio, if I spend too much time kissing your wobbly cheeks each evening, and making you chortle, it is because I see my baby turning into a thinking, exploring, social little being and I know you will change into a toddler too soon. 
Pistachio
 *****
True, some days bedtime can’t come early enough.  But even on those days, I can’t imagine my luck, my three dear ones. 

What is that holding up your head?

And just like that, my daughter has a neck.

Granted, she’s always had a neck.  A cute little stem of a neck that I never really much noticed as it was holding up her big baby head, with its in-need-of-a-trim strawberry-blonde hair and sticky-outie ears. But today I noticed it.  Because it was different. She appeared to me, all at once, older, larger, like a child instead of a baby.

And that’s how it happens.  It’s a universal parenting experience. One day, when you aren’t expecting it, you look at that little boy or little girl and suddenly they look bigger, leaner, older, different.  They are changed – at least in your eyes – overnight.  It amazes me. Every single time.

Sweetie Plum

Turn Around (Harry Belafonte, Malvina Reynolds and Alan Greene)

Where are you going, my little one, little one,
Where are you going, my baby, my own?
Turn around and you’re two,
Turn around and you’re four,
Turn around and you’re a young girl going out of my door.
Turn around, turn around,
Turn around and you’re a young girl going out of my door.

Where are you going, my little one, little one,
Little dirndls and petticoats, where have you gone?
Turn around and you’re tiny,
Turn around and you’re grown,
Turn around and you’re a young wife with babes of your own.
Turn around, turn around,
Turn around and you’re a young wife with babes of your own.