Francine often questions how long I’ll be her mom, if I’ll still be her mom when, who will be her mom when I die, what would make me not her mom anymore and lots of similar questions. She comments randomly on how much she will miss me when that time comes. She does not want to stick me “in the ground with a rock” on my head. I told her that’s not what I want either. Maybe she’s too young, but the girl is looking for answers and a feeling of security and she wants to know she knows what to do and she needs time to wrap her little mind around it all. This applies to everything, not just my demise. But, right now there’s a focus on my demise. So we talk about it. She’s really worried. I’m sure Keta is worried as well, but in a much less vocal way. What if you die in bed? Who will get you out? What if you die about to…..? What am I going to do when you die? Francine has accepted that she doesn’t have to stick me in the ground with a rock on my head and feels pretty good about it. She’s accepted that I won’t feel a thing when someone “throws a fire” on me and she is not responsible for performing the task. I told her to let the wind take my ashes and that I’d kind of be everywhere and I told her I’d always be with her, always be her mama. And just as suddenly as it comes up, the subject dies for a bit. I know she’ll bring it up again. I hate that at five years old she’s experienced enough loss that she’s worried about the next time. I hate that she’s worried.
Last night she told me, “Mama, I hope my ashes get blowed where your ashes get blowed.”
Keta was telling me stories when we were cuddling before bed, princess stories. This is a girl who can describe a two second scene from a movie in 94 minutes or more. She can describe at length everything about everything with enough fluency to make you wonder if she actually knows what she’s talking about. No short stories or getting right to the point with this one. Having had enough of the princess stories I finally requested a story about a regular girl who did something extraordinary. Hmmmm, she says, like Laura and Mary? Nope, just a made up by Keta regular girl who did something extraordinary. Here’s her story….
This is about a girl named Keta who was adopted by her mama. She grew up and was, well, kind of perfect. The end.
Keta has been looking forward to her birthday for exactly 349 days. Since the day after her last birthday, 350 days ago, she’s been “’bout to turn six!” and she’s excited to inform anyone who will listen.
Keta — Mama, guess what!?
Me – Nothing, I’m rarely given an opportunity to respond verbally. I’m making an excited and eager face to match hers.
Keta – I’m ‘bout to turn six!
On the phone with Bibi…
Keta – Bibi, guess what?!
Bibi – Starts to say something, but is interrupted in the middle of her too slow attempt.
Keta — I’m ‘bout to turn six!
This, for the last 349 days, with increasing frequency.
For me, it’ll be bittersweet when the birthday finally rolls around. Not because of the absence of the, “Mama guess what I’m ’bout to turn six” thing. That will be replaced with a new and improved version going something like, “Mama guess what I’m ’bout to turn seven!” but because she seems to be getting older so quickly! Soon she’ll be ready to tell me she’s ’bout to turn seventeen!
Here she is, ’bout to turn six!
Mama, I know why we don’t have school on Monday it’s ’cause of Dr. King’s birthday.
Mama, he was shotted or something by some really bad people.
Mama, does people still hate black people?
Mama, I’m a black people.
Mama, does people here hate black people?
Even though I have brown skin I’m still a black people.
Mama, were they scared black people had germs or something?
Why did they make them go to a different school?
Are those people bullies mama?
Mama, I don’t want to be picked on.
There was a walk along the river Tuesday for our dog’s eleventh birthday. Keta decided on it and said we should let Milo stop and smell as much as he wanted. We did. We walked for just over an hour on an idyllic path next to a river making that sound that those people put on CDs to help those other people fall asleep. You know, those people who don’t have two five year olds and a full-time job teaching teenagers and aren’t able to fall asleep in four seconds before it’s even dark. But, back to that idyllic spot for a birthday walk….. Also there, a dozen different kinds of birds making their dozen different beautiful songs. The temperature was perfect and I was with my two favorite people in the world. The same people who only stopped talking long enough to make obnoxious noises. Loud ones. Both of them, at the same time. Non-stop for an hour. I couldn’t even hear my own footsteps crunching along on the gravel path and those beautiful bird songs and that peaceful river sound, all imagined. Finally, I knew I was approaching the time when I was going to go a little wide-eyed and crazy and attract more attention then we already were. A sobbing mama on the riverwalk is no good, so I decided to challenge them. Two minutes without talking or making noise at all. What could we hear if we only SHUT UP long enough to listen?! I used different words and an almost maniacal teeth clenched smile, but they knew my meaning. It lasted almost 13 seconds. We’re no quitters though, so we gave it a second try. We almost made it but there was a lot of shhh-ing from one of them and a lot of guttural noises and frantic gesturing at cool stuff we were too distracted to see just minutes ago from the other one. Maybe I do need one of those CDs. Not for assistance falling asleep, but to listen to during our walks along the river.
They both have been going to sleep really early this transition week, our first week back to school. One night, I think it was a bit too early. I don’t know that they could have stayed up any later, but I should have tried to make them. I heard them get up at sometime that was still really dark. They raced, screaming, to the game closet. Did they choose a quiet game like “smack the jack” or memory or “checkerds?” Nope, they chose Trouble. It’s one of those games that you press down on a dome and really loudly a metal piece flexes and throws the dice up in the air loudly bouncing off the dome and finally settling with a clatter to hoots and hollers of “It’s a six! I get to go again!” It was morning, but too early to be awake and so cheerful. I went to tell them to turn it down a bit and found that they were dressed and ready to go to school with beds made and fish fed and happy faces to see me poking my head in the room. They’re pretty great. I’m pretty glad they’re here, those silly amazing girls.
We’re all three headed back to our three separate places tomorrow after a wonderful two weeks all in the same place, usually in the same room of the same place. In anticipation of this stressful day the hug timer has been requested. I set my watch timer to alert us every twenty minutes at which time we stop whatever we’re doing and give each other a squeeze and a tickle or a raspberry. It helps.
K and F got money from their great-grandpa for Christmas. After much thought they decided they’d each like to buy a movie. There are so many great kid movies! They walked past all of them. They could not be swayed. We own two new Barbie movies, one of which we rented from RedBox twice before. We’ve now seen it somewhere in the double digits in less than two weeks. It’s still hilarious and wonderful. They sing and dance and laugh and I remind them that when it’s hair day I get to choose the movies.
Most days I run on a treadmill or ride my road bike tragically stuck in one place on its trainer. —They just ran in the room asking if I’d seen their pants and ran out just as quickly.— Anyway, K and F are in the room or if they’re feeling really secure, in the next room, preparing me a post workout snack. So thoughtful! I have to cram my just heavily used legs into a too small folding chair and try to inch them under a too small folding table bruising my knees. Then I have to pretend that the fake fruit and empty tea cup are just what’s needed. So refreshing and no stiffness results at all! Love it!
We’ve had some snow here, but we’ve still been able to walk the dogs. I say bundle up and they come smiling into the room a few minutes later with crop tights and tee shirts and jackets tied around their waists. Then I explain what bundle up means and they try again. And then I repeat this all the next time we take a walk. And the next time. And the next. And yesterday we’re walking along the icy river and I notice I can’t see Keta’s socks. It’s because she’s not wearing socks. I thought with snow on the ground and with all the bundle up talk I wouldn’t need to confirm everyone was wearing socks before we left the house. I was wrong.
Keta really wants to see a bob eagle sometime.
Francine thinks cow poop is called dumb. I don’t know why she shared that with me, but it is pretty close to dung.
Oh. My. Goodness! You’re getting unriched! Keta tells Francine when we’re playing monopoly.
Lions, and panthers and bears. Oh my!
Keta sits cross legged and places her thumbs and pointers together —they just ran in the room and I had to tell them to put pants on, it’s cold!— and pretends to relax. She explains she’s focing (folking?) on nothing. She’s so zen and centered.
Mama, can you get Francine out of my nerves? She’s ignoying me.
We have so much fun!