Monday, February 25, 2008

A Mystery

My daughter is not a closed kid.

On the contrary, Evan is pretty darn good at sharing her emotions, her ideas-- often in amazing detail.


There are these times -- for about an hour on most days -- when she wants to be by herself.

"To do a story," as she puts it.

Sometimes these stories involve costume changes, elaborate sets and many props.

But more often she'll just sit, still and quiet -- as though in a trance -- behind the couch, or on the far side of her bedroom.

"What are you thinking about?" I'll ask her.

And nine times out of ten -- in a tone of quiet determination -- she'll give the same response.

"I'm not telling you."

I remember the first time I found her "doing a story."

She was only a year and a half.

It was late in the day. We'd just finished reading a stack of Dr. Seuss books when I realized I had to start working on dinner. So I left her sitting in the middle of the living room floor, looking intently at "Oh, the Places You'll Go!"-- while I went into the kitchen to chop vegetables.

Several minutes later, I found my little girl lying on the floor behind the couch.

Not making a sound.

At first I thought it was kind of weird that she'd gone back there and fallen asleep.

Until -- with a start -- I saw that her eyes were wide open.

"Sweetie, what are you doing?

And in her tiny toddler voice, she said:

"I'm not telling you."

Staring down at my girl -- flat on her back, looking serious as all get out -- I didn't quite know what to make of her.

It just seemed so strange.

After shaking off this initial reaction, I came to the conclusion that my daughter simply has one powerful imagination.

Sure, it sometimes bothers me-- that she keeps secrets this early.

But since she's not a secretive kid in general, I'm thinking it's okay for her to keep these stories -- this inner world -- to herself.

And then too, it makes me appreciate the rare glimpse into that inner world all the more.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


It's everywhere.

Slick and black under snow-covered streets. Dangling precariously from countless eves.

Glittering on every branch, on every trunk of every tree.

Like jewels.

And the sound.

With each gust -- each movement of those ice-covered limbs -- comes an unexpected, vaguely familiar sound.

"Snap, crackle, pop..."

That's right.

Exactly like Rice Krispies.

(A very big bowl of Rice Krispies.)

The storm that brought all of this ice hit early Sunday morning-- hard sleet for many hours, before changing over to snow.

We lost power for 12 of those hours.

Doesn't sound like much fun, now does it?

Well, for a while there-- it wasn't.

Until I found a neighbor with a working refrigerator.

A place for Joseph's insulin.

After that, the whole thing was as an adventure.

We read by candlelight-- and listened to Barack Obama's voice coming from a tiny yellow radio.

We sat by the fire and watched logs burn a bit faster than we'd like.

Using every blanket in the house, we camped out in the living room-- and hoped the power would return before morning.

Thankfully, it did.

But the ice that brought down power lines across our city never left.

Because -- despite a glorious amount of sunshine and blue skies -- there's been no melting.

Yesterday, I walked into the kitchen and found Evan sitting Indian-style in the middle of the floor-- staring wide-eyed and silent at the window over the sink.

I crouched down beside her and laid a hand on her shoulder.

"What are you doing, Honey?"

"Mama," she said dreamily -- eyes never leaving that window --
"the tree... it's so sparkly... it's beautiful... "

I sat down next to her, held her hand-- and looked, too.

"It sure is, Honey."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Our Tells

I'm sitting at the counter, entering Joseph's bg in his log book-- his sugar is just flying down.

No surprise-- it was a gym day.

As I stare at the curve -- the 100-point drop that took place during our short ride home from school -- Joseph plops down on the seat next to mine. I look up from the log.

Nope, not yet-- he's still low.

He has a look.

A "tell."

It's the way he smiles when he's low-- it's not quite right.

It's not him.

"Mom," he says suddenly, "I told this kid at school that if he pulled out my insulin pump I could die."


"Well, he was buggin' me. And he started asking me about it-- he's this big kid named "A" who likes to push people around."

"But Honey, I really don't want you telling anyone something like that."

"No-- but Mom, it was funny-- 'cause then later this other kid was messin' with me- "

"Hold on-- what do you mean messin' with you?

"It was no big deal-- but then A got all freaked out-- because of what I told him about my pump... "

And now Joseph is giggling and shaking his head.

Still smiling in that way.

".... and he grabbed the other kid and said, 'You could kill him! Leave him alone!' Then my friend, G was like 'Wait a minute, he couldn't kill- ' and I went 'shhhh!' and then G said 'Yeah, yeah-- you could kill him."

"Joseph, I really don't want you telling kids things like that-- someone might think it's funny, doing something to your pump."

"Oh yeah-- like all of a sudden they're gonna learn how to unlock my pump, and figure out how to push the buttons and do a bolus."

"Joseph, don't even say that. Please."

He laughs-- then shakes his head and rolls his eyes.

"Mom, they can't really hurt me."

But then he notices the look on my face.

My "tell."

"Really, Mom, " he says quietly-- without a trace of that smile.

"No one can hurt me."

Then he reaches across the counter and picks up his meter.

"I'm gonna check again, to see if I'm back up."

"Sounds good," I tell him-- though I can already see that he is.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Last Week

Evan was sick.


She had the awful, fever-inducing, hacking-cough virus that's been spreading amongst the pre-school set like wildfire.

Poor kid stayed home all week.

Thus, so did I.


I must say it was a bit too quiet around here (except for all the coughing and nose-blowing, that is) until Wednesday -- when a blizzard pounded our city, dropping an ungodly amount of snow:

Mid-afternoon Wednesday-- the view looking up the street from my front window.

Late in the day, my next door neighbor shovels while the snow keeps coming...

Now, along with all that blowing and drifting snow came something else.

Something quite wonderful.

"It's a SNOW DAY!" Joseph shouted, leaping in the air upon hearing the news at 6 AM Wednesday morning.


A momentary pause.

A tilt of the head.

A smile.

And then:

"I'm goin' back to bed."

Funny how priorities change when you're in middle school.

But then, it's also funny how some things haven't changed at all:

My well-rested son puts the finishing touches on the fort's interior.

Joseph and his trusty assistant enjoying the fruits of their labor.

Even Tim couldn't resist the lure of a snow-day fort.

The four of us spent the rest of that morning and a good part of the afternoon lying inside the fort reading books by the likes of Patricia Polacco and Dick King-Smith.

Later, making up some stories of our own.