Monday, June 14, 2010

Ready to be Surprised (3.2.09)

"How many days until the first day of spring?" asks Mia, my six-year-old.

"Let's see... March 21, give or take, minus today..."

After some figuring, we come up with a number. I skip the warning that the actual day will likely be raw and wet. I imagine that Mia is picturing a magical appearance of full-blown bloom, warm sun, puffy clouds, blue blue sky. Instead of a reality check, I offer her the lamb and lion story.

"So March could fool us and come in sweet, but go out all windy and blustery and cold, like a roaring lion."

"Okay," she says, content with her number.

I'm impatient for warm weather too. This year's snow was pretty but I. Am. Done. Feeling puddles of snowmelt soak into my socks. Done with the never-ending search for kids' matching mittens-snowsuit-hat-boots-extra shoes. So done with the colorless landscape. The razor-sharp silhouettes of the trees.

This season of waiting reminds me of the final weeks of a pregnancy. Not your first pregnancy, when the symptoms still bore the thrill of novelty ("Honey! I threw up! This is really happening!") but a subsequent pregnancy, when you know exactly what exhaustion to expect. When the two-block walk to take your antsy toddler to the park is two blocks too far. When heartburn is old. When you discover pre-partum depression is an actual thing.

How do we get through it? Where does our monumental patience come from?

I can remember a spring morning playgroup in the neighbor's back yard. The preschoolers, full of spring fever, acted out a happy scream-and-run cycle of The Three Little Pigs in the soft sunshine.

“And I’ll blow your house down!” yelled Keegan and the kids ran, screaming, from the playhouse to the picnic table.

The watching moms laughed. We were all enlivened and excited by the light and the breezes, blown away by the light and the green and the flowers. We laughed at ourselves for willingly slogging through and surviving the winter again and we laughed because we knew we had this exact sense of newness and revelation last year.

Just like when our babies spoke for the first time. Even though we’ve heard it before. Even though kids do it everywhere, every day.

With Mia, the moment came when she was a little older than a year. I was talking out loud, wondering where her shoes were when she silently handed them to me.

With Mia's little sister Nora, I was telling her not to crayon on the walls as I wiped up the blue marks, then asked her, just out of courtesy or habit, “Do you understand?”

Right on cue, she said, “yesh.” She looked at me and said “yesh.” She was 14 months old. She’d never responded legibly before. She usually said something like “Yop!” or “Dash!” or “Chai!”

The same cycle of growth and change, and yet, once again, mind-blowing.

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