Thursday, July 22, 2010
Life With Little Miss Avery Kate
It's been an interesting week. We're all rather tired after joining Jamie at a high school camp in Tygh Valley, Oregon, last week. It was a great camp, and the kids all had a blast. But when it came to an end, we finally collapsed and did . . . nothing.
The fatigue has manifested itself in various ways. I can tell that Jamie is tired because he frequently falls asleep while reading his book. I can tell that I'm tired because it's taken me all week to do the laundry. I can tell that Drew is tired because he doesn't voluntarily practice his piano. I can tell that Bethie is tired because she wants to read all day. I can tell that Aidan is tired . . . . well, no, scratch that. I can't really tell that Aidan is tired. He just keeps on with the Legos and the knot tying and the matchbox car racing and the fort building.
And, oh, can I tell that Little Miss Avery Kate is tired. I first noticed it when she woke up the other morning and greeted me with the words, "I hate oatmeal!" This from a girl who loves her oatmeal.
The next morning she glared at me with the challenge, "I hate pancakes." I simply informed her that she would still join us at the table, even if it was only to sit and watch us eat our pancakes. She sat and watched. I finally slipped a pancake onto her plate. The glare became even more fierce. "I want two." It's enough to discourage a woman.
That afternoon was the banana incident. We were playing at a friend's house. Avery was getting that unmistakable Pooh-like rumbly in her tumbly. Our hostess offered Avery a banana. She brightened, and I prompted, "Oh, how nice. Can you say thank you?" To which my little pixie firmly replied, "No." Thus began a very lengthy attempt to persuade a stubborn child to express her gratitude. I held onto that banana and she held onto her pride. She never did get that banana.
So what does a mama do with a tired girl? She holds her tongue and she prays without ceasing. I've learned that reasoning with an exhausted four-year-old is pretty much impossible. So I give her some space. But I also come close when she needs me. I kneel down when she wants to play doctor, even though I don't really want to play doctor. I let her listen to my heart with the plastic stethoscope, and I breathe a dramatic sigh of relief when she gives the hopeful diagnosis, "Your heart's not beating, but you're alive."
And I pray that my true heart is beating wildly for my daughter, especially during the contrary days.
I follow when she grabs my hand and says, "Mama, you have to come see the baby tadpoles outside!" And I try to express my enthusiasm when I behold the mosquito larvae to which she has led me. I marvel at her creativity, even if it means listening to her pound out the same tune over and over again on the piano. I am charmed by her imagination as I help tie the bandana to complete her pirate costume. I put myself in her position when she proudly informs me at dinner, "Mommy, I put the baby mosquitoes on the nature table!" I paste a smile on my face and say through my teeth, "Oh really! Let me see!" I quickly run to the school room. Sure enough. A bowl of murky water and seven wee larvae.
Because I know she's not thinking about how to nurture pesky insects that will one day attempt to suck our blood. She's showing me that she's a big girl.
Isn't that what it's all about anyway? I see it happening. She is getting to be a big girl. Her form is becoming more slender. Her profile more defined. Her thoughts are unique. Her desires are real. And she wants me to know that. She wants to be as close to me as possible . . . and grow up at the same time.
I'm not sure what we're having for breakfast in the morning. Little Miss Avery Kate might hate it. Little Miss Avery Kate might love it. But either way, we'll grow up together -- as close as possible -- and we won't let fatigue get the better of us.