Monday, September 1, 2008

By The Light of a Glowworm

Ah, it's the end of Labor Day weekend, and we successfully celebrated with out-of-town friends and family during each day of it. On Friday our friends Kevin and Brandi arrived with their pup Houston, and Trevor's brother Jason, his wife Stephanie and their little ones Annie and Jemma arrived at Trevor's parents' house. Our friends from across the street came over with their three children, and the adults took turns playing our new "cornhole" game while the kids rode bikes and played with stones. The really cool thing was that Berit actually did play with the kids. She engaged with them, participated in games, and rode her bike with the biggest of them. I've never seen her interact in those ways before, and really become carried away with it all so that she didn't even "check in" with me like she typically does. It was neat and a little unnerving to see her evolving.

Saturday was the Big Party at the senior Doublesteins' home, with dozens and dozens of neighbors, friends and family. Trev and Jason played guitar and sang, and lots of amazing food was consumed. On Sunday we went back to Trev's parents' house for swimming in the lake, boating (Marta, who has to wear a life jacket bigger than she is, is not a fan of the boat) and general merriment. I have a bit of a water phobia, which I'm trying not to pass down to the girls, so I jumped in with Trevor and Berit and did my best to stay cool and not think Berit was about to be sucked into the middle of the lake.

I did feel for our friends Kevin and Brandi, because for the majority of the time they were here I talked about being a mom or our kids, and for two childless Chicagoans, I was probably pretty darn boring. 

Today, Monday, the family and friends went home and I took Berit on a long-awaited date. A date is when either Trevor or I take her by herself on a fun outing, totally dedicated to her enjoyment. She has recently started saying to Trevor or me, "Say 'Hold me,'" and we say, "Hold me." And she says, "Not right now, I'm eating/cooking/holding Marta/cleaning." Which is her pretending to be me telling her I can't hold her, and is a little bit heartbreaking. The date, as I said, was long in coming, and desperately needed for both of us.

So she decided she wanted to "swing all day," and get ice cream. We parked downtown, walked to Kilwin's (Superman in a cone for her, chocolate peanut butter malt for me), then walked to the park. On the way, I let her drink my malt whenever she wanted, and go as slowly or quickly as she wanted, and look at anything she wanted. We took the stairs instead of the ramp, because we didn't have a stroller ("we're both big girls," Berit said), lingered in the tunnel and said, "tunnel, tunnel, tunnel," to hear the echo, and we didn't even stop when other people came in, and we met another basset hound (when we saw her, Berit automatically held her ice cream cone up and said, "Mom, hold up your ice cream!"). We got to the swings and they were burning hot from the sun, so we turned one upside-down to cool off while we played on the rest of the playground. But everything was too hot to play on, so we decided to climb down the rocks to the bay shoreline and feel the water (despite our flip-flops and crocs, which are not advisable rock-climbing shoes). We found a little girl's purse on a rock, decorated with Tinkerbell (a new favorite of Berit's), and carried it with us with the intention of dropping it off at the Police Department. Finding it closed, we carried it back downtown where we ducked into shops and looked at various things Berit liked to see. She asked me to carry her and I did, despite the searing heat and uphill climb and aforementioned flip-flops. We got gas, and while we were there a pick-up truck covered in dirt pulled up next to us. Berit wondered how it got so dirty, and so I let her ask the driver, and he said, "Oh, I was just playing in the mud," and Berit said, "Oooh," fully in awe. We came home (Marta freaked out like I had been gone for weeks) and Berit helped me make two pies and deliver one to our neighbor. I put her to bed (while Trevor wrangled Marta out of a bath she had just pooped in) by reading three books she picked, and she hugged her glowworm and said, "You got me this. Thank you." And the look on her face in the light of the glowworm was pure joy, and I thought, "They should really put this moment on their commercials." It was magic.

And then she decided she couldn't sleep, and marched down the stairs, right past me, and said, "I'm not listening" and headed to her toys. Who is this big kid who figured out how to do that? She used to just cry in her bed when she was unhappy up there, and now she takes matters into her own hands. It was kind of funny, so she didn't get into much trouble, and because it was funny and I was sort of laughing, it struck me that I am 30 years old, have two children, am a wife, have a house and live in a community and make decisions and mainly am responsible for not just my own life, but for two small human beings who completely depend on me. I have to admit, I still feel too young for all of this sometimes. 

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