- a miniature rainbow slinky
- a green patent leather coin purse with silver embossed stars containing $1.18 in change
- a yarn label (Noro Kureyon, for you nosy knitters out there)
- a deck of UNO cards
- a purple felt gnome which Nora had sewn herself
- a hot pink LED flashlight
- a 20-inch length of purple organza ribbon
- two pink balloons, un-inflated
- a business card for the Button Emporium
- 3 scarlet runner beans saved from this year’s garden, and
- a stubby red colored pencil
Archives for 0
Saturday’s trip to the grocery store provoked a yearning in Nora’s little heart. Three and a half feet off the ground at the edge of the candy aisle, she spotted a colorfully packaged pumpkin carving set.
“Mommy! Can we get this? This is for kids! I can carve pumpkins!”
“Oh, let me look at it,” I feigned interest. “Oh, my. That is neat. But I tell you what, we might be able to get a better price on that somewhere else. Let’s tell daddy about it when we get home and see if he’s knows a better place to get something like that.”
Nora trusts her daddy’s judgment on all things related to sharp implements. So she nodded bravely and we carried on shopping.
The next morning Nora was playing with the display of gourds on our table and looking forward to pumpkin carving when she got all excited and ran to Ben.
“Daddy! Mommy and I saw this kit at Zupan’s for carving pumpkins and it was for kids!”
Ben quizzed her about safety with sharp objects. She answered satisfactorily and then asked, “Can we get it?”
“How much was it?” Ben asked.
“I didn’t look,” she admitted. “It was purple and orange!”
“Well, how much money do you have in your piggy bank?” Ben led Nora to her bedroom and they returned a moment later, Nora carrying a piggy bank under each arm.
They proceeded to empty each slotted swine onto the rug and sort and count Nora’s savings.
“Listen up, Nora, because were going to form some opinions that will last your whole life.”
Yes, he really said this.
“You have 10.61 cents, you can afford that carving kit, but then you won’t have any money left.”
“But I want to buy it so I can have that carving kit for the whole year.”
“But you only need a carving kit around Halloween time. What if you find something you want at Christmas and you don’t have any money to buy it? It’s good to have some money left over for an emergency. I’m not telling you what to do, I’m just helping you think it through.”
“Well,” she said slowly, “I’ll find a lot of money in our house.” I had recently found a five dollar bill while doing the laundry and this had apparently made an impression on her.
“You can’t count on that, sometimes it takes a long time to save some money,” Ben said.
“What if we found another carving kit that was less?” Nora asked. Ben and I exchanged proud glances.
“Good idea. Or what if we looked around the house and found some tools that worked just as well and then you can keep all your money instead of buying the carving kit?”
“Yeah! You could make me a kit!” Smart kid. This is basically my strategy, too. If I want to buy something but don’t want to spend money, I just ask Ben to make it for me.
And so the matter was decided.
Nora began putting her money back inside her pigs. She murmured happily to herself, “I’m saving my money!”
She held up her ceramic pig and said, “This is my regular money.”
Then held up her plastic pig, “And this is my emergency money.”
I told her that daddy could label her pigs that way, if she wanted. And so he did, but at the last minute she changed the wording from “Emergency” to “Occasionally.”
It turns out Nora has been walking around in a “love mist” for her entire life (well, since she could walk, anyway.) This makes perfect sense to me.
Tuesday night was my parent council meeting at Nora’s Waldorf school. The sixth grade teacher gave us the “underground” Waldorf education lecture. Which means it was her take on Waldorf education’s take on child development and how our school meets the changing needs of our children. Now your going to get my version of her version.
The first thing she talked about was the “love mist.” Picture your standard preschooler. She wanders around with a far off look in her eye. She loves faeries, princesses and anything magical. She wants hugs and snuggles and will invent new ways of saying I love you and new ways of making sure she knows you love her. Our job as adults during this phase, which ends around six years old, is to keep her firmly ensconced in that love mist. She needs simple, comforting explanations of the world: bread rises because it’s magical, the stars shine for you. She doesn’t need to know about the uglier aspects. The message should be she’s loved and the whole world is there to support her.
At four-years-old, Nora is definitely still in the love mist. But occasionally, the mist clears and she sees the world. That’s the next phase: entering the world. It usually happens around six. Children will want to see, explore and touch everything real. They want to dig in the dirt, feed the chickens, make a pie. It’s the adults’ job to show them the wonders of the world, but still withhold the ugliest parts.
At about nine-years-old there is another change. After a few years of being in the world, it becomes their world. They see that they are distinct from other people — they may worry that they are alone. Adults must support them and try to keep them calm and secure through the change. It can be a difficult time for parents, as your child is pulling away for the first time. The child is also trying on new personalities before assembling the pieces of their personality. She may be an angel at school and a snarling devil at home. Keep calm and carry on. This is the age when the begin to understand the mechanics of their world as well — for example, bread doesn’t rise unless you remember to put enough yeast in it.
Middle schoolers are ready to learn about the imperfections of the world. They are fascinated by science; they want to be shown everything. And they are unlikely to take anybody’s word for anything. They are realizing that the world might need them, and are incredibly excited by the prospect.
And all of these children co-exist in our school. They are all supported and nurtured through whatever phase they are in. Every teacher is committed to putting kids on a solid foundation and supporting their growth as individuals — and supplying facts and figures in a way they can absorb based on where they are developmentally.
And the thought of that? Puts me right back in the love mist.
Perhaps you have important guests coming in from out of town? Your husband’s beloved grandfather (Papa) and uncle who’ve never been to Portland? I can help!
Your guests will be tired from travel. But not so tired that they don’t immediately notice that your front yard is full of dog crap. Quickly steer them into the house. The first thing to do is feed them, of course. Just make sure the dishes you feed them on have that weird residue from the dishwasher.
After dinner, give them the tour of your quarter acre urban farm, being sure to stop in the basement to look at the piles of laundry and the smelly, yet adorable, baby chicks. Then make them stand around outside in the rain looking at your chicken coop and overgrown lawn when all they really want to do is sit by the fire and talk to your four-year-old who they only get to see once a year. She will cooperate by burying her head in your chest and grunting whenever they address her. Once she warms up, she will deliver ear piercing girl screams to show her affection. At this point, advise that hearing aides should be turned down.
Let your guests return to their hotel for some much needed rest. Your husband has a role to play here, too. After closing up the chicken coop for the night, he should decide that one of the chickens definitely needs to go into the vet, as her butt looks like those red-assed monkeys you can’t help staring at at the zoo. Make an appointment to drop her off in the morning, you can squeeze it in during the grand tour you are planning, it will just take a few minutes.
In the morning, instruct your husband to ready a large box to house your giant chicken for transport to the vet. As you guests arrive, recruit one of them to take over cooking breakfast while you and your husband wrangle a 12 pound chicken into said box. Leave your husband to finish cooking and scurry off to the vet.
The vet’s office will instruct you to return for your chicken in two hours, so, take a wrong turn on the way home to add another twenty minutes to your already half hour return drive. Once you’re home, it’s time to being the tour of the Rose City! Pile into the car, passenger seat for Papa, of course. Your husband drives and you ride on the hump squeezed between uncle and large car seat.
Make a stop of your daughter’s school. Brilliant photo opportunity. Wow, it’s time to pick up the chicken already!
But when you get there, it won’t be. You will sit in the lobby, with guests, four-year-old and husband waiting in the car, for a ludicrously long time, while every bird keeper in Portland waits with you.
Because they are gracious and midwestern, your guests will forgive you. But God only knows what they must be thinking. Finally, after nearly an hour and half, the vet pulls you to an exam room to tell you that your chicken has lice and a mild uterine infection. You get to give her — a chicken who won’t come within 3 feet of you of her own volition — antibiotics twice a day for seven days.
But the monkey butt? Completely normal.
Fork over enough money to buy a flock of 30 baby chicks to treat a chicken who hates you and heft your box of poultry out to the car, wedging it into the space between the passenger seat and the back seat on the floor, your four-year-old’s legs resting atop it.
This is where you all break into giggles. There is a chicken in the car. At least there will be a story for your guests to tell their friends when they get back. Never mind that everyone in Minnesota will think you’ve become a hopeless west coast flake. Own it.
Now that you’re off to such an aupicious start, the rest will likely take care of itself. Make a stop at Powells Books, the International Rose Test Garden and the St. John’s Bridge. Your guests will be so relieved that they are no longer locked in a sedan with a sick chicken, they’re sure to fall in love with P-town.