I think you should forget every sanctimonious statement I ever made about celebrating a miniscule, totally sustainable, non-consumeristic holiday season. My kid asked for Christmas lights and if Santa could bring her toys and I crumbled.
What’s life without a little humbling hypocrisy every now and then?
Today my baby is one.
It is hard to believe that a year has passed since the day Evelyn, our Evelyn, made us a family of four. It has been an immensely joyous (albeit sleep-deprived) year.
Last spring, a reader (hi Leah! I owe you big-time!) suggested I look into the How to Train Your Dragon books for Charlotte.
We did, naturally, and because Charlotte was already rather taken with dragons, she took to Hiccup and his many wild Viking adventures like a fish to water. She was still so impressed by the book at her birthday a couple months later that her cousins gave her the rest of the series, which we have been reading ever since.
So nobody was really surprised when Charlotte asked if she could be a Viking for Halloween. And a Viking she was:
Every year we celebrate Halloween with some good friends of ours and as a result of that we always sort of loosely plan to see my parents a day or two before Halloween to show off costumes. But what really ends up happening is that every year I drop the ball, forget to make the plans, and then Halloween sneaks up on me and I go down the road to my parents’ house the day AFTER Halloween instead. This year was, of course, no different. Before I knew it, it was the morning after Halloween and my parents had not seen the neighborhood Viking yet.
This little snafu did not escape Charlotte either and she was not about to let an opportunity to dress as a Viking (“you can call me just Astrid today, Momma”) (AWESOME) pass her by, so the morning after Halloween as soon as everyone was awake and fed and had their teeth brushed, she put on her Viking costume and hopped on her scooter and we went to her grandparents’ house.
And Evelyn was a bumblebee. I swear the cuteness of Halloween gives me baby fever, it’s not right.
They weren’t there, so then she insisted on searching the neighborhood for them.
We happen to live in a hilly area. There is one hill in particular that I am forever warning Charlotte about, but there comes a time in every mother’s life when she realizes that the precious little womb fruit she popped out needs some space to explore things on their own terms.
Or there comes a time in every mother’s life when the incessant badgering irritates them enough for them to say FUCK IT, scooter down that hill and see what happens. Whatever. Same thing.
So today I buckled Charlotte’s helmet a little tighter than usual, reminded her how to brake on her scooter, and crossed my fingers that she’d come out on the other end okay.
About three-quarters of the way down the hill, Charlotte crashed. She was going too quickly, careened out of control, and hit some sort of crack that stopped her scooter in its tracks. She flew off the scooter about five or six feet forward, landed on her head on top of a small rock which dented and cracked her helmet, then flopped onto her back and rolled.
Charlotte is fine. She is a little scraped up, but didn’t seem to be otherwise injured and didn’t show any signs of a concussion, thank goodness.
Then this evening as I was tucking her into bed, Charlotte asked me why I let her scooter down the hill. I (foolishly) thought this would be a moment of great meaning and teaching, so I explained to her that I felt she needed to experience the hill to understand what her limitations are on the scooter and to value that when I tell her that something is dangerous I’m not just making shit up.
She sat there thinking on it for a moment, then said “Yeah. If you didn’t let me scooter down that hill, I never would have found out that I could fly in my Viking costume.”
In other words: the Lesson Learning component of my Four-Year-Old model is broken.
** Charlotte is four years and three months old. Evie’s first birthday is next week.
** Niki is home from the hospital now and still healing up like a champ.
At some point – and I am not sure exactly when – Evelyn learned how to walk. And I’m not talking about a few uncertain steps here and there like I was last week; I’m talking about confidently placing one foot in front of the other to cross an entire room, then turning around and going back to where she started from.
Unlike her sister, Evelyn learned to walk very gradually. She was focused for so long on standing up that by the time she had conquered that skill she had just sort of HAPPENED upon learning to walk. She would stand up and toddle about without ever realizing she was unsupported…and then when she caught herself in the middle of the room without a coffee table or a toy box or our arms nearby she would shriek in dismay, sit down, and wail.
Last week she went a few days without walking or standing up at all. I thought she’d given up and moved onto something else, but then one evening Donald set her down and walked away for a moment and she enthusiastically waddled after him, slowly, deliberately, balancing ever so carefully.
She has been walking ever since, slowly gaining strength and speed, clapping and giggling as she toddles along.
It’s true what they say: time really does fly when you’re having fun.
** Update: Niki is doing very well, recovering better than anyone expected. We’re finally starting to all hit a pretty reasonable groove in terms of coordinating things.
1. We went to the aquarium and Charlotte, She-Who-Has-Always-Been-Exceedingly-Wary-Of-Mascots-And-Generally-Rejects-The-Idea-Of-Being-In-The-Same-Building-As-Someone-Wearing-A-Costume (exceptions made for the circus), asked to take a photograph with the penguin. Donald stood in line with her, she insisted that the picture be taken without him in it, and then we both promptly died from shock.
2. We’ve been more proactive about our cats and dogs being part of our family lately and as a result the fur-babies keep photo-bombing things.
3. Evelyn can walk now, but she still prefers to ape crawl all across the yard instead.
4. She is also forever stuffing my hair in her mouth. I forgive her because she’s adorable, but have taken to wearing her on my back only as a last resort because my poor scalp can only take so much pulling.
5. Our new favorite thing to do is hang out at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles. If you have a kid who loves dinosaurs, I highly recommend the dinosaur hall. Upstairs there is a little paleontology lab that Charlotte cannot get enough of. A few weeks ago when we were there, she stood in one place and watched one of the paleontologists clean a bone for forty minutes. The paleontologist actually came out and introduced herself since there weren’t any other kids around and Charlotte had been so focused. Charlotte was completely star-struck.
6. Donald tandem-wearing his babies. Oh, my heart!
7. In an effort to teach Charlotte how her bicycle works, Donald has involved Charlotte in every detail of fixing up her bike (we freecycled it last summer) and maintaining it. It’s pretty sweet to witness.
8. Charlotte and I gave Evelyn half a banana and let her go to town. Boy was it messy!
9. Just another afternoon sidewalk-chalking up the back patio. Charlotte likes to tell me what to draw (i.e. “a flying dog). I draw it, then we color it in together and she names it Grover. Almost everything I draw for her is named Grover.
10. Again with the natural history museum. Our second favorite exhibit is the nature lab downstairs.
11. Charlotte took this of me holding Evelyn up. Not too shabby, kiddo, not too shabby.
12. I can never get enough of my babies loving on each other.