Slow Children Playing

Posted by jdg | Tuesday, August 23, 2011

There is a sign in our neighborhood that warns:


The other day we were walking the dog past that sign and my daughter casually mentioned that she doesn't like it. Sometimes I forget that she's old enough to be learning to read. "Why does it say that when we're not all slow?" she asked. "Gram's not slow. I'm actually quite fast."

What an adventure lies ahead for her, to discover and push the limits of what words can do. For now we're taking it slow.

* * * * *

We've been spending a week or so up north, staying in a rented cabin on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. It's more than nice up here, but we could be in a yurt on the Mongolian permafrost for all that really matters: vacation means my kids see their mother all day, every day, and revel in it. We are in the same cabin we rented last year, a quiet place where it's easy to let the days slip away with the waves unscrolling on the sand. We've marveled at how big our kids have become, watching them in this place we were a year ago, at the edge of the water. What was his first word? we asked ourselves, but it was so long ago neither of us could remember. You must have written about it, she said, but I didn't think I had. By then this website was read by enough strangers I wasn't comfortable just noting such things down like it was some kind of baby book. Remember last year when we first got here, how he toddled towards the water asking us about the "scissors of gold"? We had no idea what he was talking about until he pointed at the blades of beach grass glowing in that last gasp of sunlight. I had almost forgotten. I'll write about that one, I said. I'll be damned if I forget his first metaphor.

Fifteen minutes in the car with children fighting and my wife is daydreaming about desks and teleconferences, case files and quiet lunches. Reveling in their mother's attention often means more whining than usual, because they long ago learned that whining to me accomplishes little. Their mother has a softer heart, but a quicker temper. My son throws his shoe at his sister. She retaliates. Their mother warns: "If I was the type of mom who spanks I would so be spanking you right now!" This accomplishes the desired result, but leads to a series of endless queries and a six-year-old's speculation about the ineffectiveness of corporal punishment. You should have written more about all this crap too, my wife tells me, Otherwise we might forget and somehow think that parenting them was always fun and easy.