Returning home full-time to be with kids is like running a marathon. In fact, its like running a marathon with little training, just because you “have done it before”. You end up crossing the line looking like you aged 35 years and have osteoporosis ( I know because I have done it).
Well, everything hurts in this “home-race”. I forgot what it takes. I love it, but I am building up some serious scar tissue.
The kids are growing and have their own
idiosyncrasies talents that make a full day at with them at home with them very interesting:
- Xav grunts for everything. He reminds me of Sloth from the Goonies. And like Sloth, he is kinda cute and I even understand him.
- Ysabeau assures me that any idea she has is “gonna be just fine mom” or “you don’t need to worry” or “just count to five if you are frustrated”.
- Ethan, without a malicious bone in his body, is in a stage where he really can’t retain any instructions I give him, so I find myself having the same conversations with him most days
Ysabeau still loves playing pretend, above all other things. While the Christmas story has wained in popularity (six months later) the other day she did insist: “I be Mary and you be Joseph and let’s get on our Unicorn”. Fantasy and super heroes are certainly taking centre stage right now.
She painted this picture and told the drop-in preschool teacher that it was Princess Leia in the top corner, a light saber in green in the left corner, and various other galactic characters she only hears about from her brother. All bright pink. Perfect.
I have been reading The Chronicles of Narnia out loud to Ethan. I love reading mid- twentieth century British kids stories to him, especially because so much is lost on him (and me), and ultimately becomes humorous.
We are reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader which obviously take place on a ship.
At one point a sea serpent is threatening the ship and the paragraph reads:
And now the real danger was at hand. Could they get it over the poop, or was it already too tight? Yes. It would just fit. It was resting on the poop rails. A dozen or more sprang up on the poop. The sea serpents body was so low now that they make a line across the poop and push side by side… “An Axe,” cried Caspian hoarsely, “and still shove.” Lucy, who knew where everything was, heard him where she was standing on the main deck staring up at the poop.
And more poop.
Despite having to google what a “poop” is on a tall ship, for Ethan (and for me), and reminding him that its the end of the ship near the tiller, we both can’t help but giggle every time the word comes up ….and it always does, in quick succession.
But I am also slightly embarrassed at how little my British kids fail to meet British ship-knowledge standards. I remember visiting British friends one summer in the south of England and their boys, 2 and 4 at the time, were playing ship games and were shouting directions to each other using words I can only pretend to understand like “starboard”, “stern” and “aft”. I thought I should start telling people I was from the colonies.
Well, we now know what the “poop” is….we can start adding nautical words to our repertoire.
Lewis is delightfully politically incorrect as well. He writes almost mockingly about the parents of a very spoiled child (and the child too) in this book and describes them thus:
They were very up-to-date and advanced people. They were vegetarians, non-smokers and tee-totallers and wore a special kind of underclothes. In their house there was very little furniture and very few clothes on beds and the windows were always open. Eustace Clarence liked animals, especially beetles, if they were dead and pinned on a card. He liked books if they were books of information and had pictures of grain elevators or of fat foreign children doing exercises in model schools.”
Basically he doesn’t seem to like people who are into fads. I had to laugh because he clearly doesn’t like minimalists, and I have kind of bought into it. I wonder what he would think of Marie Kondo.
I was going to “Marie Kondo” these out of the house but who can get rid of “Star Wars: Wookie Cookies Cookbook”. I’m keeping them. C.S. Lewis would be proud.
He has a point though. I gave away any bridesmaid dress I ever wore. Ysabeau would otherwise have been deprived of dressing up like this but thanks to a good friend, she was given a selection of old keepsakes to play with. What delight!
But words are a funny thing and I realize just how hard it is to truly grasp any language, especially when living with a child who is ESL.
I have been telling Ysabeau not to say or do some things simply because (for expediency) – “it is inappropriate”. Ethan has now taken to telling on Ysabeau when she is doing something wrong by shouting loudly “MISAPPROPRIATION!!”
Saying goodbye to our Working-Holiday nanny Elise.
Ethan teaching the padawan
As I am adjusting to the rhythm of life at home again, I thankful for an article a friend sent to me called The Domestic Monastery.
While I thought about equating home life to the “poop” on the ship (it really does seem to be where all the important stuff and any action happens on a vessel), this analogy is probably better.
I have spent a lot of time considering these words and letting them be a balm for my mental world that seems frustrated by this adjustment.
For example, the mother who stays home with small children experiences a very real withdrawal from the world. Her existence is definitely monastic. Her tasks and preoccupations remove her from the centres of power and social importance. And she feels it. Moreover her sustained contact with young children (the mildest of the mild) gives her a privileged opportunity to be in harmony with the mild, that is, to attune herself to the powerlessness rather than to the powerful.
The principles of monasticism are time-tested, saint-sanctioned, and altogether-trustworthy. But there are different kinds of monasteries, different ways of putting ourselves into harmony with the mild, and different kinds of monastic bells. Response to duty can be monastic prayer, a needy hand can be a monastic bell, and working without status and power can constitute a withdrawal into a monastery where God can meet us. The domestic can be the monastic.
My stepmom once told me (before I was a Catholic) that if I had been raised a Catholic, she thought I would have become a nun.
Well, in a way I am!