Last night I made fresh bread for a few personages: a friend who’d given us a bounty of wonderful homemade Christmas candies a few days prior, and our brand-new neighbors who moved in next door only a handful of days after our own move. Nels wrapped the bread and, in the case of our neighbors, included a ribbon and homemade card and delivered it himself, wearing the “Dickensian” (according to the fellow at the GH Public Market) little coat I made him and looking quite fetching and sweet yet wild and older than the baby I want to think he is. By the way, Nels has grown four inches over the last year, so the coat – besides seeing a lot of wear – is not fitting the length of his belly and his arms. And I’m sewing a new one as fast as I can. Which he will promptly outgrow.
If there was one thing I could change about our life right now, I’d have arranged more time with my kiddos elsewhere, one at a time; I thrive as a mother (and non-insane person) when I can spend time with just Nels or just Sophie (and, wonder upon wonders, the bits of time I get with just Ralph or just myself!). I’ve found my kids when together can occasion an intensity that easily overwhelms me these days; yet taken separately, we do much better and enjoy our time together as a foursome all the more. Case in point, Ralph and I did a lot of kid-switching on our various vocations today: errands for the both of us and band practice for Ralph. Sophie and I enjoyed a lovely lunch date which included buying a set of glass pitchers and having lunch in a Mexican restaurant. While buying her a special drink at an espresso stand we talked about intersexuality and hemaphroditism, attractiveness as rated in society (“Mom – when are boys going to start finding me attractive?”), and her plans for returning to a form of school (age 10, she has decided for the time being). And then in Ross Dress for Less, pitchers in hand at the register, she turned to me and said with a savvy confidentiality, “That woman is buying a bikini, and the bottom – right here, where the punani is – is this small.” [showing the space of an inch between her hands]. “She doesn’t know how much that is going to hurt!” my daughter shook her head, lowered her voice and waggled her eyebrows upon delivering this experiential wisdom. And something about my delight in her ever-observant brain (I hadn’t noticed the “bikini” – actually bra and panties – purchase and was probably counting grocery money up mentally) as well as her supposed wardrobe savvy made me burst out laughing, much to the surprise of fellow customers.
Driving home we saw an inflatable Santa – bereft of air, collapsed in a yard and flaccid. “Santa partied too hard,” I said, and we laughed. “Too much booooze,” Sophie offered, “Too much sex.” And we laughed and laughed and laughed, Sophie with this particular whinny-like quality she gets when she’s making jokes that make me smile. And part of my laughter is that guilt, because supposedly we’re supposed to shelter our kids from such subjects, but it’s kind of funny, because that’s just Life and it’s out there, and as long as it’s not her family life where she’s seeing her mother collapsed in the yard after “too much booze and too much sex”, I’m probably doing pretty okay for my kids. And she was sitting in the middle seat of my mom’s truck bench seat and she leaned against me like my bestest ever girlfriend.