Friday, December 21, 2012

She Makes Me Proud...Sometimes

Ask any parent, and I bet they can tell you a moment in their child's life where that kid shone brighter than any star in the sky. The parents beamed from pride and there was a choir of angels singing "hallelujah". An aura formed around the child, and s/he was slowly lifted up in the air, set atop their pedestal, from which they would reign until the next big screw up on their part.

Those moments are few and far in between. Even the things that your kids do every day that are actually kind of incredible get boring day, after day, after day, after day. And then there are things that your child doesn't do so well, but you know that they'll come around and catch up, so you don't push it.

I've always thought that Charlie was smart. The light in her eyes tells me that there is a spinning brain in her head, full of thoughts of how to make my life hell exhausting. Unfortunately she really never gets to tell us how smart she is because Sam never. stops. talking. Lots of people say that the older child "talks for the younger child." I wouldn't say that is our case. In our case, Sam just talks, and Charlie never gets a chance to input her two cents.

This is especially evident in the car, where Sam will chatter on about the dead squirrel she just saw, and why did it die? When did it die? How did it die? And then she'll tell me how much she misses that squirrel, and she wishes it wasn't dead. For 10 minutes straight. Meanwhile Charlie is sitting quietly in her seat, probably wondering why the hell her mom hasn't changed the conversation to something more enlightening than roadkill.

Our house has had a touch of the flu lately, with fevers and aches and pains and coughs passing between the two kids but thankfully (knock on wood) staying away from me. I just get the midnight, 1am, 4am, 5am wake-up calls and then the 6am vomit. In my bed. On my side. It's been awesome.

When Workaholic got home from work today, he was in dire need of sleep and so was Sam. So they trekked up the stairs and cuddled on the still-sheetless bed for a few hours. Charlie and I were finishing up some holiday baking and then she started pulling things out of cabinets and drawers and bins. I started to see chaos and I could feel the breath being sucked out of my body as I envisioned the mess I'd have to clean up once she was finished. I couldn't take it. I also knew that I needed powdered sugar. And I knew that taking one kid to the store is cake compared to two. So we bundled ourselves up (which took 20 minutes) and drove to Walgreens (which took 3 minutes).

After finding out that Walgreens does indeed NOT carry powdered sugar, I thought we'd spend more quality time together, just the two of us, outside of the house. We headed to the next town to see some Christmas lights. There, I could go to another store to get what I needed and kill enough time so that she would be ready to go to bed when we got home. You know, since she had been up since 4am. 

We arrived at the local butcher shop and she beelined for the suspiciously low table chock full of candy. And I'm not talking M&Ms here. No sirree. I'm talking fresh, locally made gummy worms and chocolate covered anything and even just cubes of pure sugar. All packaged in these convenient clear tubs, spread out on the toddler-eye-level table. She snatched up a container of sour gummy worms and bolted for the nearest aisle. By the time I caught up with her, she had the lid off and was saying, "Look mommy!" as she dangled the worm over her mouth. And then it was gone. Since she had been so good in Walgreens and generally had a pretty good day, I decided that it would be OK for her to have them. They are seriously her favorite candy. She once ate two bags before anyone noticed she even had them.

This particular town has a very old and large congregation of Catholics who just built themselves a brand spanking new, beautiful (so I've heard) church, complete with gift shop. (I kid you not.) Seeing as how the Catholics own a majority of the main strip through town, they are free to put up as many Nativity scenes as they want. So they do, and I think there are five. In about a 3 block stretch. It actually is very nice, a constant reminder of the reason for the season, and they are beautiful sets. Not the plastic light-up ones you see on people's front lawns. Oh no, these are custom built wood mangers, just like where Jesus was born, with life sized figurines and straw and spotlights that illuminate them at night. There is also a star above, in case there are any additional shepherds that need to find their way.

The whole time Charlie and I had been in the car, I had pointed out every house that had good Christmas lights, and asked her, "Charlie, do you see those pretty lights?" And she would respond, "Yeah," in that tone that says she is just humoring her silly old mom. I am sure by the 20th time I asked she was wishing Sam was in the car to ponder about roadkill.

We finally pulled up to a stop sign next to a manger and I was admiring the handiwork of whoever made it. All of the sudden I heard Charlie say, "Look mommy!", in the same excited tone I had tried to use with her when we were looking at Christmas lights. I turned on the interior light and looked back at her. I was so proud that she had finally noticed something, the beautiful lit-up manger on the corner next to our car. I even thought, briefly, that perhaps she would point out the baby Jesus, or the star over display. "How sweet", I thought to myself. The choir was starting to sing and I was preparing her pedestal.

When I turned to see what she was pointing at, I saw a truly wondrous site. Instead of pointing at the manger, she was holding up one of the sour gummy worms as high as her little arm could stretch. Looking in the exact opposite direction of the manger. I can only assume she was amazed that the light from a nearby streetlamp was illuminating each bump on the worm and highlighting the color change from head to tail. The worm actually shimmered in the glow of the nightlights. And while it was pretty, it was at that moment that I knew that we needed to talk about baby Jesus more often. And perhaps put the angels on standby. And keep the pedestal in storage. While kids are fantastic at making you proud, they are even better at giving you a reality check. Mine for the day is to not expect a two year old to notice anything but the candy in her hand. I'm sure I can call on the choir of angels tomorrow. 

No comments: