Aside

the nature of passing time

I see the days falling away as my eldest child grows and changes and matures and we get closer to the end of babyhood for the littlest one. I feel a low level of stress – almost like I’ve got to meet a deadline I am unprepared for. In the little moments with each of my boys I wonder how much I’ll remember of this time… The urge to somehow capture it all consumes me, as I desperately repeat phrases, questions and gestures in an attempt to keep them all close to me.

How soon Arlo has moved into boyhood, how incomprehensible is the size of his heart and his emotional mind. He’s taking on so much; the reflective and absorbent brain and its trillion firing synapses such a wonderful, beautiful thing to witness. And how careful one must be right now – the evidence of influence so obvious as his vocabulary expands and so too his understanding of the life he leads, and that which surrounds him.

And since recognising this desire to keep something tangible, to catch the words and even the actions and store them somehow outside of me so that they are real, I have made peace with the reality that it is unnecessary to burden my heart with such a task. Instead I realise now that I must just “be” in every single second I spend in the presence of both my boys, so that each special moment is engraved upon me, burned beautifully into my soul for all of eternity.

Aside

Touching Children in France.

Did that title grab your attention? It doesn’t mean what you first thought. This post discusses what could be seen as a French Tradition, and starts with the cultural aspect of French people kissing each other. You kiss someone when you meet for the first time, and then you kiss again before leaving. I don’t mind this at all as in my family, that has always been the way. TWO KISSES! What I don’t approve of or promote, however, is my son having to do the same. Something that irks me a little bit is that,

PEOPLE WANT TO TOUCH AND KISS CHILDREN. ALL. THE. TIME.

It’s mainly women, and it often happens on the street. A LOT. Okay, okay. I have a gorgeous looking child. But he’s a person, and he doesn’t know you, nor does he want you touching him let alone kissing him.

At the start of our trip we literally had one lady beg us to kiss Arlo, “just on the hand” and before I had time to realise what she had said and step towards Shane, (who had been baffled by the French she used) it was too late. She sailed in quickly and planted a wet mouth kiss on his delightful little hand, his unprepared brain registering severe distaste before he began shaking his hand and wiping it scornfully. Now, several months later, if Arlo is in the right mood and an elderly lady comes close, watch out biatch. He will use force. I don’t condone violence or my child hitting anybody or anything, but if someone is up in your personal space and you’re uncomfortable but unable to vocalise that, action is apparently the next best thing. Of course I do intervene when I am quick enough, usually by stepping away if he is in my arms and explaining to him that I won’t let him hit.

Once, Arlo and I were watching a man turn on his motorbike (he’s obsessed) when the man crouched down and stroked Arlo’s cheek with a warm-hearted sort of look on his face. He then followed up by suggesting he take Arlo for a ride on this motorbike…ummmm, no thank you monsieur. Au revoir.

These examples are no exaggeration, and sometimes they’re acceptable, but it depends. Sometimes these advances come from beautifully dressed and delightful smelling, grandmotherly figures. Sometimes they stop to chat, sometimes they want to touch, a lot of the time they have advice. They certainly won’t hesitate to let you (the mother of the child) know, that this child is tired. Oh! Is he? Well I never. I wonder who tried for two hours to get him to sleep earlier today!?

I have been a fan of Jennifer Lehr’s book Parent Speak since before Arlo was born. Lehr advocates for letting children know that in fact, they don’t need to endure Uncle Peter’s sloppy kiss and tense arm grab at every family gathering. They need not suffer through someone they don’t know (or do know, for that matter) physically touching them. That, if something like this makes them feel uncomfortable (I know I absolutely faced these situations growing up!) that there are alternatives that can be suitable for both parties. I am teaching Arlo that he need not kiss somebody he doesn’t want to, that instead he could offer a high 5 or a handshake, or a hug if he feels like it. This way the imposing person doesn’t get embarrassed, and the child is not shamed into doing something he doesn’t want to do. At two years old though, we mostly just get a straight “no” for all options. Lol. And as a child who is very affectionate with those close to him, there is obviously some meaning behind his response. At least he knows exactly what he wants!

 

 

Those California Smiles

It’s funny, thinking back to when we were kids. Unconsciously taking each moment as it came, not worried that standing in the rain would make our clothes wet and we’d be cold later, or that too many cupcakes would head straight to our thighs, and never second guessing that the people around us had anything but unqualified love for us. It’s only when we grew a little more, when our brains were roused from childhood slumber, that our thoughts became a little more conscious, and we learned to worry about more superficial things. Once innocent thoughts became tainted with the mundane realities of “life.” And of course, maturation continued and the thoughts evolved into grown-up beliefs and realisations.

One of these realisations for me was the recognition of old people’s teeth. I believe that many people would agree with me when I say that old people have a special sense about them. It’s funny to look at one (old person) and note that they too, were once a baby, once a child, and lived out their whole adult life as well. And upon passing the threshold into becoming “elderly,” came a certain essence that reverberates in the people around them. I think children, especially, unconsciously summon this innate feeling in the presence of elderly people. Perhaps it’s something to do with being at paradoxical ends of the life-spectrum, or something. It comes in the form of an unabashed love; it lives in their hearts because they’ve not yet grown into that state of self-awareness that is cultivated with age.

I used to believe that all elderly people had nice teeth. I remember feeling perceived confusion, however slight, at why people got old and ended up with nice teeth. If I was lucky enough to have seen a photo from their youth, why had their teeth changed so much? Is that what happened to adults? Why did I notice “my-parents-age” adults with seemingly normal teeth, and then old people, older than The Adults, with perfectly aligned pearly whites, all the same size and without blemish? These thoughts developed into a reasonably solid belief inside my young, impressionable and ever-expanding brain…that all old people had nice teeth.

The realisation did too, undertake the process of change. It wasn’t till much later that I learned about the existence of dentures. From that point, the light bulb flickered on and the door to curiosity was closed. No longer did I need to endlessly wonder why this phenomenon remained a “thing” for those in the later stages of life. My marvelling mind ceased its justifying and reasoning, and the transient question that I’d never actually asked was answered.

This piece was published in Bella Rae in the second half of 2019.