I started the day with the book of Daniel and a cup of Dandy Blend, trying to convince myself that it’s as good as coffee. My self could tell that I was spinning it a yarn.
Gabriel went out the door with his lunch and the real coffee I fixed lovingly for him, with collagen and raw sugar and cream, about the time that my babysittee came for the day. (I will call her Bee here.) She sat on my lap and chattered while I drank my pretend coffee. It’s our ritual so that she doesn’t insist on “making something” or playing hide and seek or some other fascinating pursuit that requires too much energy first thing in the morning.
Today Bee had a sketchbook full of line upon line of serious squiggles with occasional wild bursts of scrawls that represented sunshine and a ballerina skirt. You have to admire the confidence of the young in their creative outlets. They don’t apologize for what they make. In fact, they give their sketches away with all the poise of those who know they have made something from their hearts, and why wouldn’t the world be happy with it? Why indeed?
I am not doing so well with the daily writing habit that I aspire to, but I am slowly working through The Story of my Life journal that I bought at Walmart. If you like writing even a little, it is worth your money for the fantastic prompts. Today’s writing prompt: “Describe your parents’ parenting style. Tell a story that shows how much (or how little) freedom you had.”
My mind went back to last week when we four siblings surprised my dad for his 70th birthday. We truly did surprise him, and what fun that was! We all went without any kids or spouses so it was just the immediate family group when we went on a drive in the van to look at our old haunts. Out of the floods of childhood memories, this story surfaced from when we moved to a summer cottage turned house beside a good-sized creek. The boxes weren’t even all unpacked before we children were wading, fishing, swimming in the frigid water. I do not remember any parental shepherding, but probably there were some ground rules given. We crossed to the island in the center of the creek by leaning into the current of the rapids and feeling for sure footing with bare feet on the algae covered rocks. Just upstream there was an eight foot deep pool where the water ran still and mysterious. That’s where we taught ourselves to swim, first by paddling about on anything that floated and held us up. Eventually we started to wade out to chest depth, then turned around and swam to shore. As we got more confident, we went out deeper until we were all decent swimmers, and thank the Lord, nobody drowned. Somehow my parents gave us the freedom and confidence to try new things without hovering too much. I do remember a lot of admonishing and rules that were intended to keep us safe, but not a lot of on-site coaching. (Granted, this was the era when nobody bothered with seat belts, car seats, bike helmets, or safety nets on trampolines.)
After our morning rituals of just sitting, writing, etc., Little Bee and I checked on the chickens and watched the flock tiptoe around a very easily ruffled mother hen and her excitable offspring. This hen is an example of 100% concentrated devotion to motherhood. She spends her entire day keeping track of her babies, scratching up choice morsels for them, showing them how to tip their heads back to trickle water down their throats, and calling them to herself to sit under her wings for a warm-up when it’s chilly. We are enchanted.
When it was time to go inside, Bee evidenced some hanger. She is always cheered when I let her make her own scrambled eggs with the little pink spatula that’s just her size. Every. single. day. she wants applesauce to eat too. If I were asked what the most common food of my childhood was, I would have to say applesauce. Little me got tired of it. Little Bee thinks it is the best treat ever. When it was time for a nap, she wasn’t one bit sleepy and her feet stomped to emphasize it. I have noticed that a small child will fall asleep much quicker if you tell them they do not have to sleep if they can’t. How about having some quiet time, just lie down on the bed and read some books? I wasn’t even through the second story before there was a gentle whiffling snore beside me. I drifted off myself. Maybe it was Just the Thing for Geraldine that did it.
I woke up an hour later, with exactly 20 minutes before Olivia’s dental cleaning appointment, and it was going to take us 15 minutes to get there. I left the sleeping tot with Rita and we skedaddled faster than we have in a long time We made it with one minute to spare. It was a relief to sit in the lobby and just read my new book about soil. Except for one granny with a magazine, every other soul there was on their phone. The granny and I virtue-signaled like everything, but it didn’t make a difference.
Since Olivia got braces, her sisters complain about how she holds up the bathroom, cleaning her teeth all the time. Apparently it is paying off. Her hygienist said she has never seen cleaner braces and Olivia feels rewarded for her virtue.
On our way home, we stopped for groceries. I estimated that the cart, half full, would probably be 150 bucks, but I was ten dollars too high. Should I feel smug at my estimating abilities, or dismayed that I am getting used to the inflation of the times? (I no longer need to buy grocery store flowers to cheer my household, so that may be where the savings are.)
It is a delight that never palls for me: walking outside, just casually picking some blooms for the table. Today it was grape hyacinths and on the mantle we have branches with wrinkly crimson leaves that are opening fast in the warm house.
Tonight Addy was hungry for escalloped potatoes like we had in Florida. I found my favorite recipe with “top milk” as an ingredient, presumably the creamy milk at the top of the jar before the cream is skimmed off. I showed her how to slice the potatoes thinly on the mandolin, then I practiced the same sort of parenting style I grew up with and went outside to mow lawn (after I warned her sufficiently to use the guard if she still wants all her fingertips). When I came back inside, she was ready for the seasonings and cheese and cream.
When Addy and I cook, unforeseen things tend to happen. We are both”schusslich”, only I have learned many lessons over time to avoid epic cleanups. This evening she accidentally pushed my binder of recipes onto the floor. It was so stuffed that it popped open and the pages fanned out over the kitchen floor. She was chagrined, but I saw an opportunity to do something I should have done long ago. The old binder is getting a thorough edit. There are recipes in it that I clipped out of magazines twenty years ago and only made once. I am culling them down to the favorites and the ones handed down from loved ones. It will take a while.
The potatoes were ridiculously good, by the way.
Thanks for joining me on my meander through the day. We didn’t go far, but we covered a lot of ground.