Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Friday, September 25, 2009

On skinned knees and wing clipping

In a strange convergence of circumstances, we've had some pretty profound discussions. Maybe I'm the only one who sees the parallels. I've been brewing this post for a couple weeks now.

Last Tuesday we had our homeschooling Catholic moms' Bible study. The girls--there are three eight-year-olds--donned helmets and went riding bikes around the block. It's a small block, maybe four or five houses per side, and they've walked it before in a large group (six kids or so?). Nonetheless I was a touch nervous as Madeleine hasn't done much turning on her bike. Of course, she returned with a skinned knee.
I had thought of this before. Knees covered in Band-aids are a staple of childhood, like splinters and mosquito bites. To attempt to prevent them, protect them completely from those things.... Down that road lay madness.
She didn't cry as I washed it, dabbed it with ointment, and bandaged it though there were some deep shuddering sighs and pinkish around the eyes. She did inform me later that it hurt some as we knelt for bedtime prayers; I figured some bruising on impact made sense and gave her a pass for a few days. Life goes on.

I've since finished reading E. B. White's Trumpet of the Swan during quiet time (Lou's naptime) as well. There is a chapter entitled "Freedom" near the end, where Louis (the main swan) and his love are offered perfect--and permanent--safety at a zoo. They will always have enough to eat, no danger of otter, fox, or other predators. The cost is Serena is pinioned--she gets a wing clipped and can no longer fly. Louis chooses freedom, the ability to go from the pond in Canada to the lake in Montana as the seasons dictate. He recognizes and accepts the risk of being hunted or not having enough food. It seems a simple enough choice. I pointed that dilemma out to the kids; they seemed thoughtful.

Also a couple weeks ago, as some readers already know, Dale's and my 11-year-old nephew was set upon by a dozen thugs who did enough damage to send him to the hospital. This is not a boy who shoots his mouth off or goes looking for trouble; he wasn't out after dark or in what would be recognized as a troubled area. He was walking around his neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon with his 9-year-old sister.
I was asked, "Where were any adults?" My guess is at home though their father may have been at work; perhaps one was grocery shopping. I'm not sure exactly where they should have been; to me, it seems a bit extreme to escort an 11-year-old and a 9-year-old around their own neighborhood.

Or is it? Since her birthday, coincidentally the same day as the assault, Madeleine has been permitted to walk the quarter mile to the party store on the corner alone. She's gone twice to get a gallon of milk. Yes, both times I watched the clock for the 20 minutes she was gone, keeping an ear cocked for her return while getting Lou down for his nap.
Am I leaving her vulnerable to such an attack? Should I be accompanying her still, an 8-year-old and me at over 8 months pregnant? When does "protective" become "paranoid"? Where is the line between clipping her wings and responsible parenting, and how many skinned knees will we have before she can fly?

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Monday, September 07, 2009

She's growing up, and it's official.

Madeleine's birthday was yesterday. She's now 8 years old.

She's tall for her age--in the 75th percentile, at last check with the doc. She changes diapers because sometimes, Lou wants her to do it and nobody else. She will make lunch for her siblings of peanut butter sandwiches, or breakfast of toast and fruit. She's getting too big to cuddle in my lap anymore, though Elizabeth is contributing to that too.

And today, she got her ears pierced.

She's wanted it for a while, but we said "Twelve." My sister had my niece's done when she was a baby; I don't know about her younger daughter. I dated a guy who said you get it done then because they don't feel it. (I think that's nonsense, myself.) I told him if we had daughters, he could do it in the garage with an ice pick but the girl had to be old enough to ask.

The cuddles at bedtime are getting harder and harder. I'm not getting any bigger (well, except the belly) and she's certainly not getting smaller. I don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to do it. With her growing, though, I didn't want "growing up" to be all about losing things. So, I brought it up to Daddy yesterday evening and he did a gut-check for the "ick" factor, then gave his approval.

I want to record the tiny details of the day--how the cashier at Sears directed us right to Claire's. How we sat on the bench outside the store because it hadn't opened for business yet. How the manager (I'll call her Claire, because I don't know her name) radiated patience and understanding, even through her lip piercing. How she actually looked at my photo ID before any paperwork, how she didn't even bother with the disposable gloves until I'd filled it out. How Maddie and I found a perfect compromise on starter earrings (she wanted the rainbow daisies, I leaned toward sapphire studs; the sapphire daisies made us both happy). How Claire checked and re-marked her lobes and got my approval. How Madeleine squeezed my hands as the girl counted, "One, two, three"--thunk, then opened her eyes and said, "That's it?" How her eyes dried up before her second ear was done. How her voice sounded on the phone to her daddy when she told him it was done. How many times she said, "I got my ears pierced" to nobody in particular today.

I knew it wouldn't mean she's completely grown up, a fact brought home by the rest of the day. Her enthusiasm for her Littlest Pet Shop themed plates, her delight in putting the sprinkles on her cake, her gratitude for the two American Girl outfits (soccer and gymnastics) she received, her joy at her friend coming over for an extended playdate/party. Those are things little girls still like. For now, those are enough.

The Birthday Girl, on her birthday, with our first harvested pumpkin. I'm so proud of you.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Busier than a one-legged cat...

...trying to bury turds on a frozen pond.

Questions I've Answered in the Past Week:
1. Is Rudolph real?
2. But how did the baby get in there?
3. Why does poop come out your butt? (This by far was the easiest and most fun to answer, even at the lunch table.)
4. What is gold made of? (This one wasn't bad either, especially since the asker had already read a bit about atoms and elements.)

We have started up to school now for a couple weeks, and Rachel is officially in kindergarten. Well, for reading she's in first grade, but she's only doing four subjects a day and is done in about an hour.

Dale's math "problem" has been kind of resolved. I'm looking ahead in the math book to avoid redundant pages, for one. Only doing one page a day as well. Those new habits have helped. We also found and bought a Soma cube and a tangram puzzle set, which Madeleine is also intrigued by. Won't do her any harm, either.

We had Madeleine take the CAT test this past June; her first time taking a fill-in-the-oval test. She did typical of homeschoolers--her lowest score was still a grade above. She was counted as second grade, ninth month and her "worst" score was third grade, eighth month. A couple things she topped out the meter---word analysis, spelling, social studies, and launguage expression. As to her composite for the total battery, her grade equivalent was 5.7. Yeah, this is the child who needed two years of kindergarten. And yes, I still laugh at that.

Elizabeth is fine, though carrying her around all the time is starting to take its toll. In church, I can sing or stand--not both or I get too short of breath. My next appointment is scheduled for Sept. 11. Then I'll go in on a Wednesday morning for a final check ultrasound and to schedule induction. Given this is my fifth delivery with this doc, I'm predicting a date of October 7. Five weeks to go, folks.

Last note: my "book club" partner, for those who don't know already via Facebook, is my beloved husband. We see each other regularly, we both love to read, neither of us fear big or impressive books. Last summer we both read the Harry Potter series, so why not? I brought it up to him at dinner and he seemed positive. When I told him my idea for a reading list (Kolbe's curriculum), he liked that idea too. I even went so far as to say he could choose the first book and we could alternate after that. He had ordered us each Fagle's translation of The Iliad before we got the kids in the bath that evening. Since I can gauge his enthusiasm for an idea by how quickly he acts on it, I'm thinking he really likes it.

I've squeezed in that much blogging today; let's try to get some sheets taken care of and dishes washed. A woman's work is never done...

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