Monday, January 7, 2013

Paying Attention

I have to take a moment, every now and then, and marvel at how incredibly lucky I am, in so very many ways -- but particularly how amazing my kids are.

They're ridiculously smart. Intellectually, Alex is so very ready for kindergarten. (He's there socially, too. The only place that he might be lacking is that I don't know if he has the patience for a whole school day of having to follow orders.) And the other night when I was reading to Penny, she was fidgeting with the lap-blanket and fidgeting with her toy and fidgeting and fidgeting and I finally just stopped reading, ready to wait for her to settle in, and she protested, "Mom, I was listening!" I figured there was no way she'd been paying attention, so I challenged her to tell me what had just happened... and sure enough, she recited it back to me, very nearly word-for-word.

And they're so very loving. My brother and I bickered, fought, and argued more or less constantly until we were nearly adults. Penny and Alex get pouty if they haven't given each other enough hugs lately. I'm not kidding. My big frustration with Penny lately is that she can't really recognize when Alex needs to be left alone, and so when she gets up in his face, cooing about how cute he is and how she wants a hug, she gets her feelings hurt when he tells her he wants to be left alone... and then her solution to the problem is not -- as you might reason -- to leave him alone for a while, but to try again immediately. (And much to my frustration, this tactic sometimes works.)

This isn't restricted to playtime, either. Penny will happily fetch Alex's breakfast for him. They share their candy and treats with each other, and help each other with chores. They want to have "sleepovers" in each others' rooms.

I groan when they climb into bed with me at 6:45 on a weekend morning, but once I've reconciled myself to being awake, it's the best part of my day -- maybe even my week. If I kept all the mash notes Alex has written me ("I LOVE YOU MOMMY TO MOM FROM ALEX") I'd have enough paper to start my own school. Penny is prone to spontaneously doing little household chores like making the beds, just for the fun of it. Both of them come up to me out of the blue and wrap their arms around me and ask for hugs and kisses. Alex occasionally plucks a leaf off the only household plant I've managed to keep alive and brings it to me: "Look, Mom, it's shaped like a heart. It's for you, because I love you."
I can't wait to meet the beautiful, generous, loving adults I know they're going to be. But part of me wishes I could just freeze them, the way they are right now. And in the moments that part of me reaches out for them, I try to remember to take a moment and marvel.

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