Maybe it’s just because I have a fever or a painful skin issue that came out of nowhere, but I’m feeling sad when I look at the issues of High Five and Highlights that are currently taking up real estate on my bathroom floor.
I just for the first time took a glance at the page of “our family traditions,” just about 10 minutes after saying goodnight to my kids on a night when my 7-year-old son melted down because we went upstairs too late to read in bed.
The pull quote is from an 8-year-old who adores the fact that her mom reads for a half-hour — a half-hour! — with her and with her sibling. Each. Separately.
What time do they have dinner? 4:30? How do you find the time for that, and what does the other one do while waiting?
Wait a second. That’s “sisters'” rooms — plural possessive. If that little Karina seriously understands correct use of apostrophes, my jaw is going all the way through the floor.
I felt guilty tonight because of the meltdown and the failure to at least read a few pages. Yes, we should have read something. But both kids needed to get to sleep! I assuaged him with having him tell me what he’d read that morning of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (when he woke up way too early, hence the meltdown).
I sort of combined that with his recent request, the telling of tales from when I was “a little girl.” He seems to really enjoy this, and for the past month that we’ve been doing it, it’s been a good exercise to practice finding happy memories and finding ways to share sadder info that won’t burden him with sadness — to make sure I convey the idea that you will eventually get over pretty much anything, and even learn from it!
I shared my tales of watching Fantasy Island as a young girl and how it’s really not all that great to watch or even read scary stuff before bed. I suggested that instead he think about the images from the beautiful watercolors in Grandfather Twilight: the sun setting and the moon rising; the calm sea and the animals with their eyes closed.
Then he asked, “Why don’t we do that anymore?”
Um, because I suck and keeping up traditions?
Really, I told him, it just wasn’t working. He was asking me unrelated questions while I was reading. But we could start it again if he wanted…
Then I sang the bedtime song I’ve been singing both kids since they started to sleep together, and my daughter for a long time. I had also recited — from memory — Time for Bed, but it seemed in recent weeks like going out on a song was calmer. So I gave up that tradition.
Until my daughter told me a few nights ago that I needed to “do the animals.” Tonight my son complained that he wished I wouldn’t because he was just about to fall asleep but then added, “Could you close the curtain all the way?”
We have no great family traditions I can think of that my children would want to share in highlights. If I start something, I fall off the wagon, or I let it change if it seems like it ought to. We’ve stopped doing our thankful blessing before meals, our candle… I have a profound respect for the Waldorf way and for ritual, but at 40, I’m still a newbie. I can’t even get on board to always give them their cod liver oil at the same time. Evening supplements are a little better, but not 100%.
And as for holiday traditions, nothing is ever the same. There is no “we always” in my house. That makes me sad. The only thing I think my kids could agree on is that we always have sausage at breakfast. And usually eggs, and usually broth, often with peas.
Do I refrain from committing in full because I think the world will fall apart if we hang ours on sameness and it disappears for a day?
Or am I just a coward? Or more flexible than I give myself credit for?
Having just read Cheryl Strayed’s novel Torch, about a brother and a sister whose mom dies quickly of cancer when they are 17 and 20, I wonder just what the heck my kids will remember me doing all the time.
Probably sitting at the computer.
2013 NaBloPoMo archives
See also the archive of my 2012 NaBloPoMo poems