Friday, August 8, 2014

My Favorite Gift So Far

Of all the gifts my son has given me, a renewed sense of wonder in the world may be my favorite.

Somewhere along the way, my sense of wonder faded.  It was like a glow stick that is rather magical in the beginning and completely nonessential in the end.  Much of the time my wonder was inactive and superfluous.
I didn't really miss it.  I had mostly forgotten how it felt.

Then we met Landon, lighting up our lives with more wonder than a hundred glow sticks could contain.  Each year we got to live life anew through his eyes, and there was so much to see.

There was so much to hear.  To taste. To smell.  The world cracked open again and the exploration of it with someone experiencing it for the first time is one of the best parts of parenthood.

I used to point out everything I could to him.  I didn't want him to miss one butterfly wing or double rainbow or dandelion puff.  I didn't want to miss his discovering these things for the first time.  I wanted to see his expression when the sandpaper tongue of a kitten licked his hand, when he heard the haunting notes of a cello, when he rode a carousal.  All of it brand new, all of it ageless, all of it full of wonder for us both.

I thought I was giving him these gifts, wrapped in my renewed interest and enthusiasm. Look at this!  Did you hear that?!  Have you ever seen anything so lovely?  Have you noticed this?  And maybe a little bit, I was.  I wanted to tag the whole world as his--to explore and cherish.

But in the end, he has given it back to me, more beautiful and mysterious than I ever remember it being before.  He asks his questions and increasingly, they are about things I have never once considered.  He fuels my own curiosity the way I once thought I was nurturing his.

This is what I mean:

We have started learning about the human body, beginning with the circulatory system.  I love, love love this topic, and Landon does, too.

"What will you want to learn about the circulatory system?" I ask him after several overview-giving conversations.

He mentioned some stuff.  A few days later he told me, "Mom, what I'm really wondering about, though, is if
the deox-a-nated (deoxygenated) blood is blue, how come I've never seen any blue blood come out of my body?  Why don't I see blue blood?

I sat there silently pondering this.  I felt dumbstruck.  My mind has never wandered there, but it seems like such a reasonable and interesting question.  I find myself admitting (as I am doing more regularly these days) that I'm as curious as he is, that I don't really know, and I'll need to do some research before I can answer the question.  I pose a guess that maybe when it hits the air it gets oxygen then?

Google mocks me.

As it turns out, we don't have blue blood running through our veins. It is, in fact, all about how light is reflected through the surface of our skin and is kind of a trick of the eye.  Even though I read several articles, I was never really able to get my mind entirely around it.  Except to understand that there is no blue blood, with or without oxygen.

Those circulatory charts sure do stick in your mind, though, don't they?

That's what I mean when I say Landon fuels my curiosity as much as I think I'm nurturing his.  Maybe my brain was like a kite and his is like a submarine, because he takes me places I never once considered.

My favorite part is that everywhere we go, the world is full of wonder.

I'd like to trade in my "wonder-as-a-glow-stick" paradigm for a new one.  As a parent, I'll trade it in for a Wonder Colander, able to collect and share wonder with equal ease and unprecedented joy.

So if you see us spinning and grinning in a field of green under a great big sky of blue and billowy clouds, look closer.  I'll be holding my invisible Wonder Colander--my favorite gift my son has given me so far.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Movie Scene or Real Life?

Ever have a day that fits neatly into a movie?  Or a scene, at least?

I don't often notice these kinds of trends, but Landon did the other day and made me smile.

I was at the airport and momentarily reminded of my formerly more extroverted self by this conversation:

"So, Special Forces then.  Is that you?"  He looked up at me, startled.

"Yes, but how did you know?"

"Well, the watch, for one thing.  Most people don't have their watches set to military time.  And that book you're reading has something about Special Forces on one of the pages."

Which in itself was kind of embarrassing to admit, seeing as the entire cover of the book was hidden by duct tape?  Whatever.  It looked obvious that the secret book of military combat procedures was begging for my surreptitious glance to determine its content.

"Well, you're right."

"Thanks, then.  For everything you do for us."

The conversation hovers in that space between awkward and natural and I'm not sure where it will land.

"Thanks for saying something," and he sounds genuinely grateful.  "I don't get a lot of that.  I don't usually advertise what I do."

Yes, the secret handbook sealed with tape...I'm noting that.
Numbers are called and he boards and we board and the moment passes and I spend the first few minutes of the safety speeches constructing all kinds of interesting back stories for him and his tattoos in my head.

I must have been a little proud of my detective work because I even retold the story to my family after I got home.  Landon told me seriously (after I tried to explain what Special Forces meant) that I was really lucky to have him on the flight with us.  "Yeah, that way, if a bad guy was on the plane, the Special Forces guy would know what to do and save everyone."

And just like that, I can picture watching an exciting action movie and thinking, Really?  There just happened to be a Special Forces guy on the plane who could take the bad guy out?

It could happen.
I've already practiced that scene in real life

Friday, August 1, 2014

Blown Fuse

"Please make those damn jingle bells stop."

Do you know that moment of chaos where you don't think anyone but the person you are talking to will hear you, and then suddenly everyone in the room does?  It stretches out long and awkward, doesn't it?

It was Christmas In the Mountains.  Estes Park.  My Aunt's house was filled with family, fun, food and plenty of Christmas cheer.  Little feet running everywhere, with big ears.

And here was Aunt Jodi, bah-humbugging about socks with jingle bells and cussing to boot.

I can still remember the surprised look on my sister's face and the tone with which she said something like, "I'm sorry.  With all this noise in the house, I'm not sure I get why these bells are so aggravating.  Don't be such a Scrooge!"

I felt ridiculous.

And with no words to describe how those adorable little bells were fraying a nerve that left me feeling raw and edgy.  I couldn't explain it to myself.  Somewhere along the way I had reached critical mass and that one little noise seemed to have pushed me there.

Fast forward many, many years later.

My capacity for noise and chaos has certainly grown to contain a career working with kids, children of my own, and better tools to reduce that anxiety before it reaches blown fuses.  But I am still the girl who can get overstimulated by too much.  Noise. People. Clutter. Small Talk. Music. Blinking Lights. Overlapping Conversations. Screaming Baby. Smoke Alarm.  Screaming Baby & Smoke Alarm at the same time.

Sure, I'll admit, I have better tools for coping with this aspect of myself,  but sometimes I forget to use them, or I don't see the need to bring them out until it's too late, or the situation escalates faster than I can unlatch the hinge on my mental toolbox.

Or I get pregnant, hormonal, and fuzzy-brained and my fingers feel fat and clumsy and I can't seem to access the tools at all.

Then I go wildly waving a verbal sledgehammer and coming off as though I'm trying out for a part in a foreign-made soap opera.  Yeah.  It's funny--but not.

Yesterday I found myself in the "stop-the-jingle-bell" mode for the first time in awhile.

There was a pair of Micah's overalls in the dryer.

And that was IT.  I could not STAND the noise of the little metal parts clanking around in there.

So now an adorable pair of Osh Kosh's sit in the Goodwill box in the closet and this mama humbly acknowledges that sometimes, I have to go ahead and blow the fuse.