Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I Wrote A Letter To My-Love-in-Capitals

I did it. Then I crumpled it up and threw it out. I have been struggling with this letter for six months. It plagues me.

We have been married for ten years, this Christmas Eve, and I cannot, for the life of me, come up with the words to express how much I cherish HIM... every day... More now than when we first met.

Part of the reason is because, of the two of us, HE is the romantic. I am the one who said, and I quote, "No anniversary gifts. No Valentine's Day gifts". Don't get me wrong, I like having a special dinner and calling it A Day. But HE is the type who still couldn't resist bringing me a beautiful, single rose on our first anniversary. (A wonderful sentiment without the expense of a dozen roses - which would have definitely had me blowing my top about wasting money.)

And I do realize that reading the words 'HE' and 'HIM' makes one usually think that the words indicate the Christian God... but I could not resist capitalizing the words because this is how I always think of MY PARTNER... in capitals.

I wonder about this very thing all the time. Every time I hear a person complain about their mate, I am thankful that The Fates have brought us together... Every time we pull into our driveway to see his car there and the children screech, "Daddeee's Ho-o-o-o-m-m-me!", I pay homage again to The Fates. Every time I'm craving chocolate and he pulls 'something special' out of the trunk of his car for me, I thank The Fates... It goes on and on... it really does!

This could, potentially, be the longest essay I have ever written. And so I have decided to go with point form on only a few of the reasons why I wanted to write a letter, on this auspicious occassion, to MY LOVE:

1. HE often knows me, better than I know myself. HE always goes into 'listening mode' after we leave a family gathering. HE realized, long before I ever did, that those things are just a formal invitation for me to go deep into self-contemplation. Also, see the 'rose' situation, above.

2. HE half-expects to, and accepts, doing things over... because I've changed-my-mind. HE's started putting our kitchen cupboards up on wheels. And never complains when I've decided to move our bedroom closet, which is now in its third position... And yes, it is the regular built-in kind. (And no, he is not a carpenter-by-trade.)

3. & 4. HE always tells me the truth AND often knows what to do with me better than I know myself. Like the time a couple came to visit and the woman didn't like me even though I was doing my very best to be likeable (as most people do when they receive company).

After they left I was upset by the firm impression that someone on the planet didn't like me and HIS response was, "No, I don't think she does like you... BUT Don't worry - She's obviously just jealous because you are everything she wishes she could be." I didn't even know those words could 'make-it-better'... but they did. One would think that HIS words might not have been true. However I have a talent for pre-supposing that people (including HIM) are lying to me and so, HE always tells me the truth (I have come to trust this over the years because I constantly test him on it)- But even suppose that that woman doesn't actually wish to be like me (go figure) - Perhaps the words were comforting in that HE thinks I am so wonderful that other women wish to be like me.

5. For 24 hours after I have done-wrong, HE lets me blame HIM for it. I can't even state one example because there are so many of them.

6. & 7. Though I blather-on with my Suppositions-of-life-in-general so much that, as one would expect, it all eventually comes across as 'white noise', HE still went, in good humour, and got his hearing checked, twice, at my insistence, only to find that his hearing was perfect... just selective. And in so-doing, gave us a funny short story to tell for the rest of our lives.

8. & 9. HE still thinks I'm sexy, even after seeing my intestines during a C-section and even now with all my 'baby skin'(after having gone from 125 lbs to 175 during a couple of my pregnancies and back down to 110). I don't claim to understand it but I appreciate it.

10. HE is the most supportive father, ever! And one who willingly went on a special-diet-for-life, without complaint, to show his children that a special diet is no big deal. At the time, a gluten free diet meant 'no beer' (and other gluten grain alcohols). HIS response was, "I will - eventually - figure out a way to make homemade gluten free beer." I have seen and known a lot of men in my time but have yet to meet another one who would be equal to this task.

11. HE accepts the fact that I am an 'experiencer'. This means that I have tried, and continue to try, all kinds of things in life, often expecting to fail and try again until I get it right and then move on. Generally speaking, this means I have done things that are hazardous to most men's egos, but not MY LOVE. In fact, somehow, I think HIS ego grows because of the things I have done and continue to do. Or perhaps it is because I feel that HE is so perfect for me, that HE and HIS ego are so rock-like...

12. HE has always insisted that I-am-the-one-for-HIM. When we first dated, I, who had dated hundreds... even thousands, refused to believe that he could know this because he had only dated two other people... ever. We broke up for five years because I did not trust or believe that he could know that I-was-the-one under these circumstances. He dated one other person during that time... maybe two... and still insisted that I-was-the-one-for-HIM. How's that for stick-to-it-iveness?

I could go on and on. Really, this is just an example of me warming up to the heavier examples of how wonderful HE is. So is it any surprise that I, of a million words in a mundane situation, cannot find enough words with which to express my love for MY LOVE?

Actually, I feel lucky that I am so verbose. I can't imagine the angst of a person who is generally plagued by the inability to put words to their thoughts...

Oh yeah, HIS one drawback... HE, despite being nothing short of a genious, has great difficulty in putting thoughts into words. This means that sometimes I have to work pretty hard to draw the words out of him...

...Although it also means that I'm pretty much the constant winner in all of our disagreements...

...Maybe it's not such a flaw after-all... here in the Gray Zone.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Honour Thy Dead, Wave to Your Ghosts and Awaken Your Pagan

Halloween is one of my favourite holidays of the year, mostly because it makes the most sense to me.

It is, doubtless, an important 'mark of transition' in our year. It connects us with all that is in the past (the season of growing, the sun, the dead) and that which comes to us in the future (the rebirth of the earth, the sun and when we will be spirits of the dead, ourselves). It reminds me to honour those that came before and that one day I will, indeed, be the past... And in so being, will feed the future.

It is a celebration of the season of sleep, death and the spirit of the earth and people around us. It is the one night of the year that I allow the issue of 'time' to become inconsequential just for a little bit. It is the time that I think of myself in terms of being in all of the past, present and future.

I enjoy celebrating the death of the old year (and how wonderful it was) and looking forward to the 'sleepy time' that comes before the awakening of our part of the earth in the spring. I cannot figure out why New Year's Eve is at the end of December. (If someone knows, I would gladly learn something new.) Anyway, I thought I would write something here for anyone who might want to learn more about the CELEBRATION of Halloween... and it is, indeed most worthy of celebration!

In a more simple aspect, Halloween is, in our home, a celebration of the harvest and the subsequent 'great sleep' of the earth... which is absolutely necessary for the 'rebirth' or 'awakening' of the earth in the spring.

This is why it is important to have a day to honour death and the dead, because without them there would be no renewal (new babies, new food, new everything). Nothing grows in soil that is not fed. What feeds soil? Dead plants, animals, people.

Also, on a lighter note, this planet is way too small for everything to just continue on existing forever... And on a science note, if an area becomes over-populated, fertility drops, the whole population ages too much to reproduce, no food is left, disease runs rampant and everything dies, leaving a big blank, yucky space. (Think of that fruit fly experiment in highschool. By the time all the fruit flies died, that jar was absolutely disgusting!)

Also, Halloween is a time to honour the wisdom passed to us by our predecessors. After all, without their wisdom, where would we be today? In kind, without a past, there is no future... and it is important to celebrate the lessons learned in the past so that we may live a better, brighter future.

This is the time of year that I enjoy taking special time out to meditate upon the memories/ideas of those who came before me. Here are a few small examples:

I think of my Grandfather, in South Africa, who passed many years ago. I remember how he taught me to play chess and poker dice and how we would play every day when I would visit him in the summer (winter - over there). I remember how he taught me that it is never acceptable to resort to violence (a rather embarrassing but important memory for me, after having slapped my sister - for the last time). I remember what a good man/male role model he was to me.

I think of my down-to-earth Granny who taught me to love to cook from scratch and filled my mind with the wonder of how to live off the land without the support of a city.

I think of Joan of Arc and how she gave her life and what it means to us today.

I think of our neighbour, who passed in his house next to ours and pray that his spirit is at peace.

I think about how all of our spirits are connected without the barrier of time and space.

And of course, yes, it is also about passing tales of the dead (so as not to forget them) and a few true ghost stories onto my children. Here is one of my favourites:

When my daughter was very young, less than two years old, my husband's work transferred him to a city far from us. And so, until we could find a new home, we spent our mornings at my (adoptive-paternal) Grandparent's apartment.

My Grandmother (Great Meme), my daughter and I, listened to my Grandfather (Great Pepe), read the newspaper aloud as he sat in his recliner, with extra emphasis on the obituaries. (He liked to see who he knew in there.)

While he did this, he would also keep up an, almost constant, dialogue with my daughter who would toddle all around him, trying to steal sips of his coffee. They absolutely adored each other! And so, every day, my daughter and I visited with them just so, for about four months, until we finally moved a couple of hours away and could no longer visit as we used to.

Soon after we moved, Great Pepe was put into the hospital for cancer. He was not doing well enough to be at home but was not expected to die very quickly. Life continued on as best it could in these circumstances.

Then, in the wee hours of one morning, my, now-two-year-old daughter, who was positioned between her father and myself in the bed, awoke, sat up, waved at the unlit ceiling lights and returned to sleep. My husband and I looked at eachother, shrugged and also went back to sleep.

At 8:30 in the morning, the phone rang, it was my Mom. I said to her, "Great Pepe died last night, didn't he?" She said, "Yes. How did you know?" I responded, "He came to say good-bye to the baby in the early morning, she sat up, waved and then went back to sleep."

I asked how he had passed so suddenly. Apparently, he got out of bed for some reason, slipped on the concrete floor and hit his head. They said, he died instantly and did not suffer at all.

And even though all of our children have slept with us, none of them has ever done anything like that again.


Ahhh, I love a good ghost story... I do! And though I have no patience for the ridiculous, creepy, gruesome, evil-spirit type Halloween movies, I do, like a Christian parent who allows Santa into their celebration, allow for some of the celebration to be based on pure fun.

My children bear witness to this as I only bring forth but once a year, my horizontally-striped, purple and black stockings and black dress. And I do try to honestly praise my children for their wonderful creativity... when they come to me, brimming with pride, telling me of their idea to cover styrofoam heads with toothpicks.

All the while I repeat to myself, in the form of a mantra, that there must be some artistic creative puff of smoke involved in there... somewhere...

And my ever dutiful husband may still insist that, in our house, it is really the celebration of many candies and chocolates... sigh...

All is not cut and dried, so to speak, during Halloween, here in.... the Gray zone...

For anyone who'd like to do some more reading up on Halloween. I've listed a couple of good sites and quotes below:

University College Cork of Ireland: explains the historical origin of Halloween and how it is linked into Christianity:


Not only is Samhain (pronounced "sow-in") the end of autumn; it is also, more importantly, the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. ...These two themes, celebrating the dead and divining the future, are inexorably intertwined in Samhain...

Samhain, which means “summer’s end”, according to their ancient twofold division of the year, when summer ran from Beltane to Samhain and winter ran from Samhain to Beltane...

...with its emphasis on the “historical” Christ and his act of Redemption 2000 years ago, is forced into a linear view of time, where seeing the future is an illogical proposition. In fact, from the Christian perspective, any attempt to do so is seen as inherently evil. This did not keep the medieval church from co-opting Samhain’s other motif, commemoration of the dead. To the church, however, it could never be a feast for all the dead, but only the blessed dead, all those hallowed (made holy) by obedience to God—thus, All Hallow’s, or Hallowmas, later All Saints and All Souls...


Friday, September 22, 2006

Cri-i-i-ck: Saved Your Life

My husband threw out his back. All I can say is, "Unbelievable!"

And you may not believe it now but read on, and you will realize that it's the truth I'm telling you, when I say that this, seemingly inconsequential event, may have saved the lives of his entire family.

I know what you're thinking... "No way!"... "People cannot save lives by throwing out their backs. There's no way THAT is possible... "

Oh, but I assure you it is... because as you know... nothing is simply what it seems... here in the Gray Zone.


What makes it even more unbelievable is the fact that he spent the summer demolishing half a roof with no adverse reactions. And then he threw it out picking up our 20 pound baby off the bed to give him a kiss bye-bye on his way out to work. What are the odds? :/

Now my husband may be a lot of things, but when it comes to pain he never complains. When he could hardly walk the next day, I knew he had to be sufferring horribly. And so, I put a call in to the chiropractor who was able to do an adjustment within a couple of hours.

We had to go back in the next morning, again. Happy 40th birthday, honey!

Yes, on top of it all, my poor husband was confined to spending his birthday flat on his back after his second adjustment. Things were looking better... He had more motion but was still in a lot of pain.

At least he had the house to himself.

You see, homeschoolers have all their 'outside' events that begin to take place toward the end of September. This gives you a couple of weeks to get the 'home' schedule back on track before you add in the extra-curriculars.

So, Daddy's birthday is generally a busy, busy time for us. The first day of gymnastics, the first day of dance class (two separate classes - one for each older child) and Mama's night out for the first annual homeschooling Mama's social (so that we don't go completely insane).

Did I mention that we live in the country and generally it takes half an hour of highway driving to get... well... just about everywhere? ... And this is our pivotal point...

Because we had to go out to the Chiropractor's (who happens to be a mere 3 minutes from our house) twice, before going anywhere else, the brakes on the van did not SUDDENLY fail on the highway on our way to gymnastics at the speed of 100 km/hr. They failed in the driveway, going 5 km/hr... after the second visit to the chiropractor.

And so, for his 40th birthday, this man may possibly have saved the lives of his wife and 3 children.

Suddenly... a thrown-out back seems like a really great gift.

Thanks honey. I luv ya.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Girl, The Ego and The First Grocery Shop

Grocery shopping.

It even sounds mundane. It's that thing we all have to do every few days or so if we want to maintain our stash of fresh fruits and veggies. And so it was to be our 'event', last Tuesday. As usual, nothing here is ever just what it seems on the surface or even at second glance.

This grocery event actually harkens back to last weekend. At the time, we would never have realized that... days before actually arriving at the grocery store, we began our journey...

It was the annual town-wide yard sale. We've lived here for seven years now, in this small community. Having grown up in the big city, it is a whole new way of life for me and this yard sale extravaganza is no exception.

Here's the deal: We live just outside of town and so we turn this into a full day outing. We load up the bikes, trikes and buggies and a picnic lunch before heading out. Once in town, we park the van (of course with all of our 'gear' it has to be a full-sized eight-seater) and then we walk and walk and walk...

It's a wonderful walk because the gardens are all blooming and it seems almost everyone in a small town really tries their best to have a wonderful looking yard. It inspires me. (It doesn't make me a successful gardner, but it does inspire me to keep trying to be one.) And every third house seems to have their driveway filled with wonderful magical goodies that will somehow make our lives better.

And so, to provide lessons in economics, negotiating and budgeting, each child was given five dollars to spend as they desired.

Of course, the first thing my son saw was an enormous dinky car track/digger toy that he just had to have. I told him not to pay more than two dollars for it but, at six years old, he was too shy to make the deal. So, I went with him to talk to the lady. She was asking $5. I offerred $2. She kindly accepted. And then I made my mistake. (Pay attention parents-of-young-children...)

I grabbed a toonie out of my purse, thinking that my son's $5 should go toward his own negotiations. Feeling strangely rewarded and satisfied with our deal, we balanced the toy on top of the double stroller and moved on.

We then came across another house that was selling cloth diapers and infant summer clothing that I enjoyed perusing for about half an hour. During that time, the children went to the home two doors over. Though my son was still feeling too shy to negotiate, he stood witness as my eight year old daughter did the haggling. She managed to master the technique in about five seconds and scored a $3 Bionicle for $2, a 50 cent slinky for half price and other unnamed treasures.

All this time the children were running back and forth, between the neighbour's house and our buggy. I was thinking that they were putting their 'deals' directly into the buggy. This was not the case. They were using up the change in my purse before 'breaking' their own five dollar bills.

By the time I finished making my own, extremely satisfying, deals. I realized that I had indeed made a gross miscalculation. I had promoted the idea of making one's money last longer by using someone else's money first. And so the change purse bank was immediately closed for business and the children were left to their own devices and five dollar bills.

It didn't do much good though. They already had pretty much everything they wanted.

My son declared, "I'm going to put mine in my money jar at home to save for something really big. Maybe even for my Smart Car!" (To my chagrine, he has recently stated that he's not going to have children when he grows up because he's getting a Smart Car. Therefore, there won't be any room for children. .. DARN that Smart Car!)

My daughter, in her usual subdued manner, refused to comment in any way, on the future of her own five dollar bill.

Then, several days later, at the grocery store, she confidently announced that she would be using her money to do her very own "First Grocery Shop".

Believe me when I say that I had some difficulty with this. I had all kinds of dreams about what creative thing she would do with her money. Buying food was not on that list of possibilities. My first reaction was that she would have to spend her money on groceries when she grew up. She should get other things now. However, I curbed my tongue because I had made the commitment that they could spend their money however they please and I would not interfere.

I am glad that I did not interfere... and I know that there is another parenting lesson in there but I will have to give it some time to let it sink in.

Her excitement was almost palpable as she placed the marker on the checkout belt to keep her items separate from mine.

On the way home, every time I looked in my 'kiddie' rearview mirror, she had a big grin on her face whilst looking out the window. Finally, she exclaimed, "I love buying my own groceries!"

Usually when her father comes home, he has to search her out to say hello. And when he asks what she did, the usual response is, "I forget." (The bane of all homeschooling parents, worldwide.)

But this day she ran to the door and blurted out that she had, indeed, done The First Grocery Shop of her Life. She then proceeded to list her carefully and wisely chosen items: "...6 kiwi for $1!... a package of radishes... some Fruit-To-Go travel snacks... and some moneyplant seeds!" (Perhaps she thinks that she can grow some money?)

And even now, her thrill is as palpable as if she's just disembarked the biggest roller coaster on the planet, as she replays the events of her "First Grocery Shop".

This is the beginning of something BIG... here in The Gray Zone...

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Today is Mother's Day.

I received a small and inexpensive gift.

My six-year-old son made me a frisbee out of a coffee can lid. He decorated it with special drawings and added pinwheel stripes, and an edge, made of golden star stickers.

Now I know that to some, who may not be parents or who are more inclined towards gifts that cost more financial dollars, this may seem like a simple, somewhat benign child's gift to his mother.

And to others, it would hold more weight simply because of the extra effort a homemade gift requires.

Neither of the above frames of mind apply to my way of thinking because I've never really put much value on these 'extra holidays', and actually don't care much for the value placed on gift-giving.

However, in my Mother's Heart, Today, I just know that this is absolutely The-Best-Frisbee-Ever!

I know this because, unbeknownst to my small boy, it is not the only gift that he gave me. This frisbee is simply the vehicle/respresentation of many other gifts with which my son bequeathed me today. And the true gift, again, unbeknownst to him, was actually in his declaration to me upon presentation of said-homemade-toy.

You see, the truth of the matter is that he made this frisbee completely of his own volition. effort. time. and creativity. (Not because of school, as we homeschool. And not due to television, as I asked if he had watched a craft show that made one.)

So, yes, this is a very small gift. However, It is also infinite in size and importance. It is a combined thing being: inexpensive, expensive and expansive. It is enormously simple and simply enormous. It is both intro- and intra- spective. Because of this best-frisbee-ever, he has given me the wonderful realization that he has the abilities (completely on his own) to:

1) Think critically;
2) Build on a penchant for creating something constructive by making it pretty too; and
3) Place importance and value on his relationships; followed by the implementation of a plan that will foster continued growth in relationships-that-he-values, by showing his appreciation in terms of both time and effort. (Big inhale after saying that last one.)

And as he held his small, inexpensive, seemingly benign, physical gift out to me, he most formally and quietly said, "I made this frisbee so you and I can have lots more play time together."

Things are not always as simple as they seem... here in... The Gray Zone...

Monday, May 08, 2006

A Glass Sink In A Dance Studio Bathroom

Everybody's seen just one of them. You know... those renovation shows where they finish some glorious project in a weekend? In two days they perform miracles on houses that need far fewer miracles than my 100 year old farm house does.

That's not to say I don't like my farm house. On the contrary, I love it... But it needs some work. We knew that when we bought it. My husband and I are both fairly handy and have a love for older architecture. That's what made the house attractive to us in the first place... We could make it our own.

We've been wanting to renovate the downstairs bathroom for quite some time but I could just never find 'the perfect sink'.

Well, I finally found one! It looks like a square-ish glass salad bowl.

Now I realize that there's no overflow and we have three children. I know... I'm asking for a tidal wave in my house... But it really is such a beautiful sink!


So last month we got the sink and tap (I already had the antique table to put it on) and got started.

We've decided to make it up like a dance studio, wall mirror and ballet bar included. I was so excited. The first step is gutting the place. That took two days (and we didn't have to replace the tub). End of show.

Filling and sanding and installation of toilet and sink... another two days... End of show.

We have three children, two dance recitals, a couple of playgroups and no project time. End of third show.

I managed to find a narrow, antique wooden door. So now I am in the process of putting in a new doorway to connect, said bathroom, to the laundry room. I have to cut out an old hand-hewn beam to do it. RATS! If I can figure out a way to keep it, I will... but it's not looking good. Then I'll try to finish up sanding and painting. End of fourth show.

Oh, and did I mention that when we installed the sink, I went around the mulberry bush with the store because they didn't have the proper plug (the one without the overflow holes in the pipe)? No one ordered them because they didn't realize they needed them..... Sheesh, it was a hardware shop not a department store! You think they'd know that if they sell sinks without overflows that they're going to be selling drain pipes to accomodate the lack of overflow. I didn't fail to order it, they failed to tell me that they didn't order it... until I called to find out if it had arrived. "Oh, we're very sorry, the warehouse should be receiving the shipment in approximately two weeks."

"Oh." Shows 5 and 6.

Now, I'm not saying it's not worth it but it's just not happening in one show... here in... The Gray Zone.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Gluten: You had to know I'd get to it!

For those who don't know, my son (who was born very healthy), from the age of two weeks to three years, was very ill and not growing as quickly as he should have been. He also seemed to cry a lot and could not be consoled. It seemed he was exhausted but could not sleep properly. He also seemed to have some vague type of seizure disorder where, when he cried, he would get 'stuck' in an exhale and couldn't inhale again until he passed out, which of course put him under constant threat of a concussion because he was crying so often. He had heart tests, lung tests, blood tests, cystic fibrosis testing, etc. Yet no specialist could figure out what to do with him.

Finally after two years, our pediatrician came back from a convention and said, "I think he has celiac disease." She promptly sent us to the local pediatric gastroenterologist who looked at him and after a cursory visual check deemed him not to have celiac disease. I did not know, at the time, that it is not possible to tell if a person has cd just by looking at them... and so I went home, relieved that cd had been ruled out.

So another year passed and he just seemed to be getting worse and worse. However, after the suggestion of cd, a bug had been put in my brain that maybe we should eliminate all food as an issue. I did not act on it until I came across a book in the library called "Breaking the Vicious Cycle", by Elaine Gottschall. The book was in the wrong section of the library which leads me to believe that God, the Goddess, our angels, Buddha... or some higher entity, made sure that I found the information to improve, not just my son's life, but the lives of every individual in my family! Anyway, finding this book was the motivator that brought us to the decision to try an elimination diet to rule out food as an issue.

Honestly we did not expect any improvement at all. We just wanted to be able to say that we had done it, and done it well. Well, in four days we had a brand new child who was happy and carefree and without bowel issues for the first time in three years. Our pediatrician subsequently sent us 3 hours away to a pediatric gastroenterologist who specializes in celiac disease who has since deemed my son as Celiac based on the outcome of the diet.

What's more? Well, I lost my lifetime worth of daily headaches (sometimes very brutal), and my daughter and my partner were no longer fatigued (among other more private functions that I don't have permission to divulge). None of us wanted to go back to eating gluten because we liked feeling better and didn't want to go back to feeling so crumby (hah).

Well, after watching my son get so much better (No more doctor/hospital visits for 3 years!), our diet is becoming more strict all the time (no gluten, limited grain, no cow dairy, etc.). The dichotomy is that it is also expanding at the same time. (Hooray!)

Now we eat squash, all kinds of squash. Squash was something I never cared for before but now I have found that you don't just eat it plain, you actually do stuff with it and it tastes good! I use it to make pizza dough and tea bread (among other things).

The same goes for goat dairy (all kinds), buckwheat (not really 'wheat'), eggplant, beets, avocado, parsnips, turnips, cabbage, berries, apples, pears, and on and on.

These things have all increased in our diets so that we are eating a more varied diet than we were when we could take the easy way out and just bulk ourselves up with grain.

So when someone tells you their diet is extremely limited... you should really take it with a grain of sea salt... here in... The Gray Zone.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The "Far Apart" Children

The “Far Apart” Children

As a young girl, I remember my friends and I all wanting our future children to be close in age so that they could grow together and play together. Some wanted the boys to be older to protect the girls and some wanted the girls to be older so that they could babysit the boys. (As if boys are not capable of this task…And as if you’d ever leave a 13-year-old in charge of an 11-year-old…Hah!)

Now, as life would have it, the greatest teacher about the truths of our existence, is experience...

My first two are close together. Whether they know it or not, they are truly each other’s best friends. They keep each other constant company. My daughter, the older child, teaches the younger one to strive to keep up. And my son, the younger of the two, forces my older child to put into practise, lessons of patience and endurance. It is a thrill to watch them build on each other’s creativity when they concoct all kinds of stories, plays and dramas.

When my son was born, however, it was not as ‘easy’ as it is now that they are both walking, talking and independent. My daughter, at two years of age, was truly remarkable in her desire to help in the care for her younger sibling. But let’s face it, caring for an infant and even the most cooperative toddler is extremely time-challenging and those ‘special moments’ with the younger infant were fewer and farther between than they were when I only had one infant and no toddler distracting my focus.

With a miscarriage following our son’s birth and several years of unexplained infertility, I found myself pregnant after suffering a cold. Why it is, that a husband can still find his wife to be sexually appealing when she has a runny nose, cough and is all the while ingesting as much over-the-counter cold remedies as she can, is beyond me. However, I am convinced that the particular cold remedy I was taking has some magical ingredient in it that ended our bout of infertility… but that is another article.

And so our third child, Ben, was born into our family with siblings, six and eight years older than he. He is also the child who has more helping hands at his beck and call than any child should probably bear witness to on this planet. At 5 months of age he has no worry of any toy dropped, as someone is there to pick it up for him within 5 seconds. He gets more kisses than the other two did because there are two more sets of lips in the house. And because my daughter thinks of him as her own personal, living doll, he is almost constantly carried which is, of course, one of the things in life that babies love most. He wants for nothing that a baby wants. And now, I can witness all the joys of having a small baby in the house, yet enjoy my very own, unaccompanied, visits to the bathroom... at least for the time being.

I’ve noticed that the older children also have tolerances for the baby, that they do not afford eachother. For example, they find eachother’s spit disgusting and/or offensive. And they seldom say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to eachother without some kind of prompting from my partner, or myself.

However, Ben’s ears, according to them should only be encumbered with sweet, almost melodic tones and they never miss a ‘thank you’ for his gobby, spitty, stringy, baby-kisses. In return, my older two children are learning some wonderful care-giving recipes that they would not have without their much younger sibling.

My six-year-old son will spend half an hour making funny faces that make the baby laugh and squeal. When that same six-year-old was 6 months old, there was not an adult within 50 kilometres that would spend half an hour making faces… no matter how cute and adorable those fits of giggles were. Adults just don’t have that kind of time. And a two and a half year old is just too busy doing... well... all that self-absorbed, two-and-half-year-old-stuff, that two and a half year old is supposed to be doing.

So there are some wonderful benefits for all of our children in this scenario. And yes, the ‘close together’ children are wonderful to have…but so are the ‘far apart’ children...here in... The Gray Zone...

The Gray Zone

I’ve been thinking about writing a series lately that has a lot to do about nothing, yet everything. Things that are black and white, yet not black and white. Things that have a lot to do with life and living… with death and dying… with existence and existentialism...

And so, you have now entered... The Gray Zone...