Thursday, August 19, 2010

31 Months (part two)

I like the way Quinn says certain words right now. She's very clear but still has that baby warble in her throat. She's speaking in confident sentences but the slur between words keeps her indelible baby cuteness intact. Sure, our kids will always be cute to us, even when they grow into their awkward-moody-snarky-teenage selves that I've been warned to fear many times over (I'll try to check back here in a few years just to make sure that I actually just wrote that line) but there's something incredibly cute about babies, especially your own.

Quinn is right in those tweener years where she still clings to some baby tendencies but where she also seems to grow up a little every single day. Next month she'll be light years ahead of today and in a couple more years she and Lucas will have their own ways of communicating that we won't even understand. Only then will I truly appreciate the ways she talks to me now.

She's so adorable, so earnest when she determines to let you in on one of her secrets. She'll even grab your face if you try and turn away from her while she is engaging in conversation with you (like I said, cute at two-and-a-half, maybe not so much at thirteen). But I get the feeling that she just likes to interact with people, to share in the exchange of information and engage in the social game that we all play. She is very observant and our home isn't one filled with much passive entertainment, especially when it comes to our kids. I don't know how many times I've heard myself say the type of thing I would've hated to hear my own parents say to me, like, "There's plenty of stuff to do if you use your imagination." And I suppose that I chuckle at it all now but I was the type of child that used my imagination and I still enjoy the need to come up with creative ways to keep me entertained. Some of us don't want to rent twenty movies every weekend (yes, I see those people at the video store, too) and give up our lives to the collective desire of entrepreneurs to leech away our time. Some of us enjoy learning how to play the violin or writing a novel or making a movie or painting or even reading a book, spending a quiet moment in the fascination of the mind.

We often spend evenings together with family or friends and, with a beverage in hand, chat the night away, soft sounds keeping rhythm in the speakers. It's a delight to share this time with others and have sincere dialogue with one another. Also, a couple of times a month, we have Buddhist meetings in our home where we chant and share with one another some of our thoughts about the conditions of our lives (minus the beverage and music, of course). Both Quinn and Lucas are very aware of these gatherings and often run through with their loud play or sometimes they even sit quietly on our laps as the interesting conversation swirls around them. We don't pretend to be something else with them either, to prop up our lives in a fantastic way. This is the environment that they are going to grow up in.

The other day Lucas told me that he doesn't like to talk. I was dumbfounded because he has the tendency to be very talkative. Then when I asked him what he meant, he told me that he rather be playing than talking. Well, I thought that he talks when he plays all the time, creating storylines with his cars or playing a game with Quinn, and that's what I said to him. He told me, emphatically, "No, I mean when we just sit around and don't do anything else but talk." It made me laugh, of course, but I was also a little sad that Lucas is already distancing himself from our living room conversational atmosphere. Yet, I have a strong feeling that Quinn will not feel that way once she gets old enough to interact with all of us on a more equal plain. She has a tremendous confidence and I am constantly amazed by her intricate awareness of the world around her. I know that Lucas will pull her away for awhile and they will have that space that only belongs to them but eventually our little Quinny will be pulled back into the thick of it and she'll espouse fluently on all the topics of the day...just like her Mommy.

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Friday, August 06, 2010

70 Months

You know, if we were true to our nature, Lucas' name would have been Luna from the beginning and Quinn would have been River or Amaranth or some bohemian name like that. But we were intimidated by the pressures of our society to conform, to disavow our individual spirit and not make too many waves. Sure, we like to go against the grain a bit and subtly undermine the status quo as much as possible but becoming outright rebels hasn't entered the realm of possibility just yet.

The arguments for and against are equally compelling at times but the most profound examples of anti-establishment expression that inspires us the most almost always comes within the world of art. We acknowledge the artistic spirit that lives within each person and wish to express it, as well as witness its expression in others, as much as possible. We are also pacifists, embracing the ideals of Ghandi and MLK, so venting our outrage and confusion at a discordant world using non-violent means is the best way for us to get our message of non-conformity across without losing our sanity.

And it truly is insane, all of the violence that exists in the world. The ways that humanity has figured out how to hurt one another is astonishing when you stop for a moment and think about it. I know that it's easy to become numb to the reality of that insanity but it's out there, a threatening ominous force that burdens our consciousness. Lucas is very aware of our ideals and what he's allowed to bring into our home. Now that he's increasingly being influenced by the world beyond our doors, there are a few confrontations that we've had with him about what we expect, no gun simulation being at the top of the list. Many times he's asked if he can watch certain movies that many of his friends have watched. Most of them (even the ones that we enjoyed at a young age) have gun violence in them. It is a huge problem; the ratatat of our culture, the gluttony for blood, the insatiable desire for havoc. I don't understand why we feel the need to introduce our children to this glop so damn early. There are plenty of impressionable and creative programs out there that doesn't involve some guy getting blasted a million times until his body turns to hamburger.

Needless to say, Lucas hasn't seen quite as many movies as most of his friends. But he's come to learn that we are not going to let him watch anything that we don't want him to watch. Xtimu and I are united on this front (ahem, I hope the Grands are listening) and he's come to accept it. Ever since the teevee was invented there have been parents who have taken the time to analyze the programs that their children were exposed to and they have been filtering it. My parents did it and there were many times that I thought they were being overzealous with their censorship. Some of the time they missed and some of the time they were right on the money. Lucas isn't always going to like it but for now he's faced with an environment where his parents are very involved with the type of media that enters his brain.

Sure, there will come a day when he sneaks off to watch his generation's version of "Porky's" or "The Road Warrior" and he'll probably think they are the greatest movies for awhile, but I'd rather create a place that cherishes the beautiful light of the moon, the perfect reflection for his little face, and have him grow within that pale glow, instead of the sick blue flicker of the television. His vision will develop more profoundly in the long run and we'll have so many wonderful memories of happy and gentle thoughts, rather than the wicked echo of a machine gun rasping in our ears.

Just a note: this song always reminds me of my little moon. He's such a delight to see at the full of night.

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Thursday, August 05, 2010

30 Months (part 2)

I'm outnumbered.

There are days when two-against-one is too much for me. It's not like they intentionally team up on me (not yet anyway) but just their combined energy has me completely overwhelmed. I go in with the best intentions, a great father outing prepared for them, something along the lines of a light lunch or simply a trip to the park, and everything is perfectly beautiful. You know, you have the sun cascading through the trees and the blue sky blanketing your idyllic moment, a cup of coffee in your hand, maybe a double because 2 plus five equals 7 and 39 divided by 7 will never add up to the amount of energy that you need to keep up with those two rascals, then you calmly sit down and try to enjoy the afternoon. Before you know it, the sun has lowered in the sky and a cool wind has lifted, caressing your delicate bones and you can't remember what it was that you did that made you so freaking exhausted.

Xtina always mentions a basic fact to new mothers who are in our social awareness, "It's amazing how so many of the difficulties with children boils down to them simply being tired." "Ahhhhh, she must need a nap" is often a common phrase we utter here in our home, as well. But it still always surprises me when it feels like it's just my brain that is tired. Can I please just have a moment where I'm not required to answer a question that I'm sure I already answered many times or read a book or settle a dispute or keep an eye out for unsettling behavior or set up the bath or practice violin or get some food in them that they will tolerate or...yeah, I could go one forever.

I remember being very specific about wanting more than one child but it wasn't like we totally planned it that way. Lucas was wonderful and easy in many ways, but no matter how much you like to fool yourself, it's damn hard taking care of that baby the first couple of years. Then you think, "Oh yeah, they're potty trained and becoming more self-sufficient, it's going to get easier." But with self-sufficiency comes a growing confident awareness that enjoys puffing out that magnificent chest. It never gets easier, who am I really fooling with that kind of talk? I knew that we were doubling our workload with Quinn but I didn't care at the time. Lucas needed a sibling. I knew that more than anything else but there are certain ramifications that come with such a narrow-minded focus.

I guess that we simply have to accept the responsibility that we've taken upon ourselves, perfectly willingly, of course. I'm really good at that when it comes to the rest of my life. I don't dwell on the inconvenient situations that arise with indignation in my heart. I just deal with it and move on because I can't control the entire world. I don't have that kind of power just yet. And I know that I don't have the power to corral my kids in a tiny cage either, nor do I want that type of relationship with them. Apparently I need to muster some inner resolve and develop my strength, so that I have the ability to influence them in the most positive way, without losing my mind in the process.

It's a push that began almost six years ago and was doubled three-and-a-half years later and it keeps moving forward. It keeps striving, which is what I always tell Lucas and Quinn when the burden to quit presses down on their heads. I suppose that I need to take my own advice and find new ways to encourage myself when an overwhelming clutch tries to shut down my own brain, because I don't want to look back on these years and have one ounce of regret.

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