Tis that time of year again. The time when our mailboxes are filled with wishes of joy and happiness for the holiday season. The time when we kvell over photos of smiling children – some who we see no more than once a year on shiny photo paper. Some whose progress we document every December with a “Wow, this kid’s gotten big” or a “Can you believe a twelve year-old still lets her parents dress her like that?” OK, that wasn’t nice, but people? Rethink some of these get-ups, would ya? I’m just sayin’.
And then there are the family newsletters. No, not yours – I love getting yours. Yours is different. But you know the ones, right? The ones that tell us how little Piper is speaking twelve languages now that she’s in third grade and how darling Cooper narrowly missed next year’s Olympic team in water polo. They thought about appealing the age limit, but decided to wait until he turns six. Apparently Piper can’t decide between the eight sports at which she excels Thank goodness there are seven days in a week and we can fit in two on Sundays! and Cooper just isn’t sure if he wants to continue to play the violin in the city symphony. Second chair is just tough on a five year-old’s ego and it really cuts into rehearsal time for Shakespeare in the Park.
I don’t know these ladies, but I’m guessing it was December when they came up with the idea to write their book, Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid.
Our news just doesn’t fit as well into a chatty golly gee ain’t we grand letter. But it doesn’t mean that we don’t have news. It’s just that I’m not sure that the stuff that’s HUGE to me translates into newsworthy to my family and friends.
But you – you get it, don’t you? You know why small moments like the ones we had last night aren’t small at all. You know why I want to shout them from the rooftops. And you know why I don’t. You know why I keep them here, where they’re safe – treasured – celebrated. And why it takes 365 newsletters (or oh, say .. this blog) to really tell you about our year.
Last night ..
We sat together in the booth of a familiar restaurant, celebrating Luau’s birthday. He’d chosen it from the two options on our ‘relatively safe’ list. Well, I guess there are three, really – if you count McDonald’s. I don’t.
Brooke was listening to the soundtrack of Godspell on her iPod, having needed to escape the noise of the restaurant for the refuge of her world of music and predictable characters. She leaned into me, rendering my right arm happily useless throughout most of the meal.
Periodically I’d check in.
“You doing OK, sweetie?”
“Uh huh. Mom, who is singing?”
“Well, I don’t know, honey. I can’t hear the music. Who is singing?”
“Is it it Jesus?”
“I don’t know, Brooke I can’t hear it. Is it Jesus?”
“It is Jesus. Can you tell me it’s Jesus?”
“Well, love, you just said it was, so I believe you.”
“Mom, can you tell me it’s Jesus? Is it Jesus?”
“Yes, honey; it’s Jesus.”
And then we’d go back to the business of sitting and leaning and slowly eating.
She was leaning on my arm, facing away from me when out of nowhere, she turned her head up and said a single word.
I bent over her headphones and asked, “What’s that, Brooke?”
She stretched her little neck and – quick as a flash – planted a kiss on my cheek, then turned away and leaned back again as if nothing had happened.
But it had.
I looked at Luau for confirmation. “Did you see that?” I asked. He had.
She had kissed me. Unsolicited. And not just the slack mouth, soft touch that usually constitutes a ‘kiss’. No, this was a full on noise-and-all smack on the cheek.
We may have had a sack full of gifts under the table for Luau, but I’d gotten the best one of the night.
When we’d finished dinner we packed up and headed out to the car. The parking lot was crowded and we’d parked a fair distance from the door. I reached a hand out for Brooke. And she took it. With her WHOLE HAND, she held mine. And we walked. Together. All the way to the car.
OK, see this is why I don’t write a newsletter. Because I have no idea how to explain how big this is. How to explain that for YEARS I couldn’t get Brooke to hold my hand at all. Or how I finally got her to hold onto just one finger - a pinky - for as little time as possible. Or how if the slightest bit of fabric (a shirt sleeve, a jacket, a glove) touched our hands it was over. Or how she’d try to struggle out of my hand and I’d have to hold on anyway if we were somewhere unsafe and how she’d yell, “I DON’T WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND!” far too loudly and it would KILL me every time.
Or how last night I was on cloud nine as we walked the ENTIRE way to the car – calmly, happily, hand-in-hand – and looking to all the world just like duodelingual, athletically-gifted Piper and her proud mom picking up one last gift for little Coop.
He asked for his very own copy of War and Peace this year – isn’t that just something?